Powerlifting Petri defining her own terms

The local newspaper did an article on my story.
Enjoy it here..


End of year reflection: Give more, want less.

The key to success; complete and utter catastrophic failing.

The key to success; complete and utter catastrophic failing. 

The one ingredient of success that no one talks about; failure. Complete and utter total catastrophic failure. 

In order for you to get the impact of this video; you need to understand the back story. 

In powerlifting you only have 9 total attempts. (3 for each of the squat, bench and deadlift). 

There are a lot of rules depending on the federation you choose to compete in. USAPL is considered one of the most strict federations.

I have competed in more than a few sports in my entire life. I had visualized my lifts for my meet. I had been fueling my body with fuel for months. I hired great coaches. I had a ridiculous amount of support. 

All 9 of my attempts I have done before. 
(With a perfectly controlled environment. No crowd, no judges, no ridiculous chafing 1970s asbestos-filled polyester singlet, my own music(perfectly timed to the height of the most amped part of the song), my own spotters, my most comfortable time of day, when I had to only complete one type of lift(pr squat, dead  OR bench), if I was injured-I took that day off, all the stars were in align, the starship enterprise could land and Rocky would run the Philadelphia Art Museum steps all in perfect jubilee).

So yeah, competitions are DIFFERENT. 

My first squat 225. I do this for 20 reps in my gym. Nailed it (someone on the side lines after told me that I got a red and asked why? I didn't know I didn't get 3 white lights(perfect). It still counted but I had no idea what the warning was for).

Second attempt I asked them what I did wrong before and they couldn't remember. 

245. Boom. Easy weight. Nailed the lift. 

Red lighted. For what? I asked.....Moving my foot? Shit. When did I move my foot? I didn't know. 

So third attempt I'm totally focused on never moving my feet and missed the lift. 270. Which I have done in the perfectly temperature controlled gym on a perfect day with Rocky and Starship enterprise. 

Hmmmmmm.  (squats not my worst. Bench is. Which is up next........ SHIT(we are about 4 hours in of competition with 4 more to go)in my mind I'm trying to shake it off but in reality I'm like 'omg. I just lifted what my 20x rep max is. DISASTER.'

Ok. So the bench story. I had been struggling with my bench for a while. Most I've ever done was 185 on incline. Not with a pause. So I KNOW I'm capable of big numbers. But I have been battling a shoulder issue for months (no excuse to not put up a small number to get a lift on bench).

So coach and I choose 125(actually he chose 135 and I asked for 125) I 10-rep this in the gym. 10-Rep. 
(Warm up with 115, easy and perfect and did all the calls with TWO other coaches-confident)...

First attempt. Totally focused on commands and form falls a part at the bottom. FAIL. 

Second attempt I get it up but did it before the command. FAIL. 

Third attempt (announcer YELLS over microphone 'everyone give it up for Jenna PETRI! SHE HAS TO GET THIS LIFT TO STAY IN THE COMPETITION).....I, at that point, lose my breathe, my focus, my EVERYTHING.

Complete and utter total catastrophic fail. 

Everyone. Watched. Everyone!!!!!!!!
The entire crowd who had high-fived me all day tried to hug me and say it was ok. Strangers. Totally felt bad and pitiful for me. 

Olympic and Arnold athletes just stopped what they were doing to cheer me on and I FAILED. 

Gulp. Excuse me mister judge? Where can I go to die? Make it fast, please. 

How bad do you feeling reading that? Omg. Illllllllll feel bad for THAT girl. 

So I was disqualified from my first meet. I had trained for for 33 weeks, hired coaches. Paid for lots of equipment and FAILED. 

I knew I needed the experience so I knew I needed to stay for deadlifts. 

Before I started training I hated deadlifts. I was terrible. 275 was a struggle. My DREAM 3rd attempt was 315. Dream. My form was awful. Coach was always on me to take the slack out of my arms, push against the floor, and lock it out....

Over time I learned to love deadlifting. It's easily my favorite day of the week. 

So. Here I am. I can totally go to my comfort zone. Call it a wash and QUIT. Easy way out. No one would judge me. They wouldn't. I can coach everyone else (which I know I'm good at) or I can attempt my lift. 

Now my first attempt lift was 290. I had already sent that in and couldn't change it. Before my meet I was CRAZY confident about 290.

NOW. Not so much. My confidence was at an all-time low. All of my friends were saying things like 'good job, at least you got out here and tried something new!, or that's not the Jenna I know, or I'm still inspired by you-------it all was hard to hear. 

In my head I was struggling with whether or not I could pull 290#. 

So I went into an adjacent crossfit box and loaded the bar with 135, easy. Then 225, easy, 265, easy. 275-started to grind. Shiiiiiiit I'm not going to get my first attempt! I'm going to fail deadlifts too. Noooooooo. FAIL. FAIL. FAIL. 

At that point I said. 'Stop!'

You Vs. YOU. 

Go to that place you love. You're bigger than this weight. YOU need this. YOU have to execute. YOU can salvage this day. 

275. Boom. 

290. Boom. 

And then I went out to the gym and didn't talk to anyone; I pulled MY own confidence out of the shitter and I EASILY pulled 290.

Second attempt( judge said what do you want -

315.(she was a little skeptical I think because she had seen my earlier nightmare).

Yes. Ma'am. 

Back to the crossfit box. Loaded the bar with 315.  Growled and yelled. 

Boom. Got it. 

Out to the gym with my heat-same song 'Eminem Til I collapse' on repeat. 

This one I'm nervous about. Was it a fluke the last one still went up. 

Stepped on the platform. Literally grumbling with perseverance and mad with disappointment.... 

315. Boom. Easy. 

Scorers table. 340# please. (In kilos it ended up being 342#)

(At this point people are trying to high five me and congratulate me. They saw my all day shit-show. I mean noBODY wants to see ANYONE compete and fail. No one. Everyone wanted me to nail those lifts).

I walk through the crowd. Literally FINALLY finding my inner alter-ego. Breathing heavy, big breaths through my chest. Numb limbs from emotion, all of my supporters had left(including my family-I sent them home(kids were sick))and I was ALONE. Just like in the gym, on a regular day, with Rocky flying the starship enterprise. The ONLY PERSON I needed to prove anything to was 


So back to the crossfit box. All alone. At this point I knew I had a few more minutes because I had lifted heavy enough I moved up a few spots. (Btw you lift in order of the weight you are lifting which makes it easier for them to rack your weight-I didn't know this before my meet)!

Instead of taking my time to catch my breath I had FEAR in my throat. I started the 235 lb (how much I used to weigh-not how much I lift) Jenna negative talk. 'Jenna you can't do this. You've failed everyone today. You're kids saw you fail. Your friends saw you fail. Everyone at your gym saw you fail. You have only ever lifted this one time. (340# not #342). You can't do it.

 (Don't text me and ask if I'm ok or pm me and say I didn't let you down-I KNOW THIS. This is what years of negative self-talk takes you back to..... It's a very bad habit that I have to work on every day).


The song starts over. 
Eminem says 'when you feel weak and tired and you wanna quit----you gotta find what's in you....'


Nope. Not today, Jenna.

Lift the %#^*!%# weight. You CAN do it. 

340#(of bumper crossfit plates literally takes up the entire bar)

Did it. 

I walked out to the gym when I was already in the hole. Two more people then ME. 

I saw tunnel vision like Rudy getting ready to come out of the tunnel. 

Here I was doing my Rocky run up the stairs, my Vince Papali into the end-zone........ 

I was so focused that I walked up the the platform with my head phones on. 

The judge had to waive at me to tell me to take them off. 

I approached....

And this happened......


I've never in my life been so proud of myself than I was at this very moment in time. 



The hardest thing we ALL have to do. 

The missing ingredient in success is complete and utter catastrophic failure. At this very moment I have never been more driven to compete. I have never felt more extraordinary. I have never felt that I find figured out the last piece of the puzzle. I was SUPPOSE to FAIL today. I need this in my toolkit for survival. I will never forget this moment in time. 

I had 8 lifters come up to me after the meet and tell me watching my deadlift series changed their vibe and they got pr's. 

I had to epically fail FIRST to really prove to myself what I was made of. 

My coach believes that you should never fail. I hadn't ever failed in practice, so once I did in a meet I wasn't prepared. I was stunned and shocked. I'm not saying you need to set out to fail. 

But IF YOU HAVE TO FAIL; I promise that you will learn. And learning is the key to progress. And ANY progress, no matter how big or small-is always good. 

Keep failing. It is the tipping point to where YOU overcome YOU. And that's where the magic happens. 


Simply summed up by my 6 year old tonight at bedtime..

Me- Olivia what did you learn from watching mommy compete today? She only saw the bench 0/3.

Olivia- 'That even when you do bad, you don't quit, you keep trying and come back and do awesome (word for word her response!)'

The story of my last 4 years. 

March 2012- my youngest was admitted into the children's ER for RSV for the second time. Husband was traveling a lot and I was working to spearhead raising millions for my job at the Charlotte Chamber. Trying to lose baby weight was not a priority, sleep was. I would stay up all night with my sick son making sure he could breath and then go to work all day. After our entire household had been sick from November to May; I knew we needed to change. I was around 200# that entire summer. 

On sept 3 I got a phone call that my good friend Jamie had been shot and killed by her ex boyfriend. 

Jamie really wanted to run a Tough Mudder that November. I wasn't ready but trained the entire year of 2014 and competed in November of 2014. I loved how it felt to do something I had never done before. To be able to run 12 cc miles and complete 30 obstacles was amazing. When Jamie died I vowed to take on the mission of 'give more, want less.' To give more to others and want less from people. This changed my entire personality, my entire world, who my friends are, how I thought...

In 2014 I decided to train for a bodybuilding show(although I didn't compete, I learned so much about myself and what I was able to accomplish. I was suppose to compete in April and had to have surgery; I had 6 weeks off to think about what I wanted to do. I decided to take a year and add muscle to my physique. 

In 2015 I fell in love with my training. I fell in love with being able to lift hard and heavy. At the same time I had been working with a nonprofit for sex-trafficked women. I took a step back in a world where so much focus is spent on how we look-and its so apparent that it doesn't make us feel better. Getting abs doesn't make you pretty, the hard work it takes to get abs is where you become humbled and you realize what you're made of. These women that I work with don't have amazing bodies. They also are very insecure, very broken children of God. 

I realized that me getting on stage in a bikini wasn't going to inspire girls like this. Girls like this need me. They need someone that has felt ashamed and hurt and not confident show them that they,too, can change their life. They too can become STRONG. They too can become something different than they are. 

And isn't it interesting how my journey started. A girl named Jamie. A beautiful blonde soul. Through domestic violence SHE inspired me to learn and live my life. 

So, if you're still reading..I'm sorry this is long, when you look at my four years of transformation photos, know that there have been shitty days, anxious days, rainy days, terrible eating days..


There have been entirely more awesome days, days where I look at myself in the mirror and I'm so grateful for the work that I get to do. I'm so happy that I'm showing my children that my body is my business. That my hard work is mine and no one can take it. 

Today was an awesome day. I can finally say I'm a powerlifter. I have trained for 33 weeks. The last 27 days every morsel of food was approved by my coach...and I can say I accomplished something amazing this year. And I can say I didn't do it for me, but at the end-I challenged myself, I saw what I was capable of and I conquered some things that I never thought were possible. Especially I learned that after a couple of terrible lifts I was able to change my mindset and come to go 3/3 on my deadlifts. I learned so much about the sport of powerlifting. What an amazing group of athletes. 

Big thanks to my coach of 33 weeks Brian Scott. Can't say enough awesome things about you. I never knew I could do what I did today. You knew exactly how to prep me. I remember asking you what you thought of my potential when I first trained with you and Sam at your house and you very carefully chose your words by saying 'you have some bad habits, but if you work hard and do what I tell you, you'll see progress'
(This lit my fire in a major way-every coach has always told me I'm strong. I was so pissed. Hahaha.).. Thanks for putting up with me and teaching me that prehab, proper warm-up, and patience and consistency are the name of the game. Oh and rest. (Still hate that!)

Rachel Allbaugh thank you for teaching me how to properly cut. You're so awesome to help me and be with me each day the past 27(16# worth) I never knew it was possible to lose fat and keep my strength-your knowledge is so appreciated. Thank you. 

My sponsor!! ANA Thank you Scott Hardesty for seeing a uniqueness about me and committing to me to be an ambassador of your brand. I wear it with pride. Maxxout was a major player today and is with all of my lifts. Thank you friend! http://allnaturalassets.com/jenna-kohlmeyer-petri-ana-sponsored-athlete/

Fitfam! Laaaaaaaaaaaaawd. I probably need to do this individually as there are lots of personal appreciations to go out. But as a whole; y'all are incredible. I love our family. I love that we support each other no matter what. Thank you for being with me today and sending me messages and spotting me and working out with me. You guys push me to another place that I never knew was possible.  Love you guys.  

How am I impacting my family?

Every day my kids talk about being strong and kind. 

Two funny quotes from my kids from this prep..

Max (at his friends birthday party where they were going to go on a bear hunt in their back yard) 

M- ' i don't want to go'

Kids mom- 'ok you can stay inside if you want'

M-' my moms killed a bear'

(We both thought this was funny because my kids truly believe I can do anything. They think I'm stronger than everyone. It's awesome)


O - 'mom, if lifting weights makes you strong and makes you feel good about yourself-why doesn't everyone do it?'

Me- some people don't know what the benefits are of weight lifting Liv

O-'I'm going to tell everyone. '

I love my life. I love what I've been blessed to do. I'm so fortunate and grateful that people have watched my story unfold for the last several years. There are so many vital people that I didn't mention because it really does take a village. All of my coaches and friends and family all played a role in where I am today. I still can't believe that so many people have read my story and so many have reached out and thanked me for helping them change their life. Inspiring people is the best job/life I could have asked for. As a matter of fact I feel like I started my life when Jamie died. So technically I'm only 3 years old. 

I Cannot wait to see what God has in store for me. I am just a vessel. 

Thanks for reading. I'm truly honored. 

A question for mothers: What was your biggest sacrifice for your children?

A question for mothers: What was your biggest sacrifice for your children?

I was recently asked this question by a newly pregnant mom..and I thought about it for some time. I immediately thought about what my mom sacrificed for me.

One of the reasons that my mother is my rock is because of what her and my dad gave up for me. They don't make me feel guilt about it; they were gracious to be able to do it. But they gave up a lot. When my dad received promotions and raises, they never bought new cars or bought a bigger, better house they could afford. They always showed us their love through time. My brother and I played a lot of sports and at least one of my parents were at every single game. My mom drove us 25 miles to school each day. Some days she was in the car for 2/3 hours driving us. When I asked her what she gave up she said "Paying for private school, and time (in the car)." Of course she would do it again without blinking an eye she says.

If a new mom asks me what to expect about being a new mom; I always say that you give up your world for the child...as if it's a gift that you want to give. The first time you look at your child, you know that you would do anything for them. So you do. I had to put my career on hold to stay at home with my kids when our baby was sick. It was the hardest decision; and the most rewarding years of my life. 

I'm not near as remarkable as some of my friends and mentors...read what these moms say...(I simply asked them "what was your biggest sacrifice for your children?' No other details. I asked over 40 women, some stay-at-home moms, working moms, moms that are retired, moms with teenagers, moms with newborns, moms with 4+ kids, moms with one, moms with pretty significant health issues, moms that adopted, moms of children with multiple challenges-a melting pot of amazing moms).

(Please have grace as you read these as some of them are very personal quotes.)

"I don't feel like I've sacrificed. I mean, we have such a full life that I don't feel like I've had to sacrifice anything for it".

"Oh wow, my time. Choosing to bring children into the world means I don't focus on my strict agenda and needs at the expense of them. It doesn't mean I ignore myself or don't prioritize me (my gifts, needs, responsibilities) it does mean everything has to pass through a filter for whats best for their hearts and my call as a mommy".

"My biggest sacrifice is the time sacrifice I make.  I've worked hard the past five years (during the middle/high school time when they don't need me that much) so that when they go to college they do not accumulate much debt.  They are both very independent, self sufficient, confident young adults."

"Wow!  What a great question!  The first thing that popped into my mind was knowing that while they are our gifts from God, ultimately they are His.  The thought in and of itself keeps me continually loving on them.  Watching parents struggle and grieve the loss of their young mystifies me; how does God make them THAT strong?"

"Probably my career". "My body, it just didn't matter any more."

"As I sit here thinking, that's a great question...I'm not sure if I feel like I actually sacrificed anything. Obviously having kids brings great changes in your life, but nothing I feel I gave up and missed."


"Sacrifice seems like a strong word, but I would say that every life decision was more about the children than me. I lost my "I", but no regrets."

"Myself. Period.....but truthfully it doesn't feel like a sacrifice because she became my word, and I took the backseat happily. I think most would agree with that too!'

"WHEW! I think every mother(married anyway) gives up a part of their relationship with their partner. Something that has to be rekindled and molded again once the kids are grown."

"my breasts...sucked the life out of them, literally!"

"hmmm I wouldn't say that anything was a "sacrifice" because I chose to do it but probably giving up my career to raise them. Thats ben my most challenging part of being a mom".

"If I'm being totally honest I think the majority of the stuff I sacrificed was material things...nice car, the nails every other week, buying nice clothes and north thinking twice about it. And of course my job.  But those are so insignificant now because I found out who I am being a mom."

"I don't know the biggest..my first thought was career, freedom, financial obligations from having kids, inability to be selfish and the impact on marriage (which requires constant reprioritization." 

"Being a single mom I sacrificed my love life/dating relationships. I would absolutely do it again."

"sacrifice is a harsh word, I just say that I changes my way of life when I had to. Their needs came before mine and that's how I wanted it, I didn't consider it a sacrifice. I considered it motherhood. Does it sound crazy? I loved every minute of it, even if I did complain sometimes. If you want one word I would say freedom to do whatever I wanted- but that's just not motherhood!"

"That's a toughie, simply because I would give up anything at the drop of the hat for them. But, if I had to choose just one I would say time. That covers the bulk of it. My whole world revolves around theirs and even if I plan "time to myself" I'm still thinking about them and that's the first thing out the window if they need me".

" Career. I would do it again in a heartbeat.'

"That's not an easy question/ answer.  Since I got pregnant out of wed lock & in college...the personal sacrifices were many. Today due to my health, I don't have a choice but to be content w/the role of mom & wife. My neurological issue does not discriminate. I have enough energy to be a mom/wife only. Everything else: education (3 classes from Master's degree-honors) marketing career, church volunteer, full-time board member & hobbies are pushed to the back-burner. The fact of the matter is I wouldn't have it any other way. This blink of time with my babies is short lived. I hate to admit it but if I weren't physically limited I would be less present with them even when I'm physically there. So I choose to trust that the Lord has me right where I need to be for this season. In the mean time we continue to seek for treatment & answers."

"my life but that was also my biggest blessing.  I died shortly after having my first and they told me that would happen because my body just couldn't handle a pregnancy at that time.  Second was - I thought ever getting married, a lie satan tries to tell single abused pregnant young women.  Someone tried to talk me into having an abortion (well several people including my parents) and one of the things they said to try to make me decide to have an abortion was that having this baby would mean that I was giving up on the man God had for me for this baby that was going to be too hard to raise on my own.  The last large thing was college...I had signed up to take college classes but felt like I needed to work and pay the mortgage so we have a place to live...then when my first was younger the only way I could afford care, and housing was to work 2 or 3 jobs...no room for college classes...but honestly I won't change any of it.  God used every bit of it to be a blessing...even the super hard stuff."
"Food choices and my sanity .....I have had to 100% change my way of life due to my food allergy kids. Each day I live my life around food prep and fear. I can't mess up, not even once or it could be fatal. Certain restaurants we aren't allowed to even walk in...(five guys) . His sports....I'm constantly looking over his shoulder for the snack they bring. 
I can't attend certain cook outs that I used to love. Friends birthdays because all cake is unsafe.. I can't even attend "spirit night"  at chick fil a with my kids. Every vacation with friends or family I send emails with rules,  so that we can attend. So embarrassing. Neighbors have to wipe down before we show up. It's exhausting . But if that's what I have to do to keep My children's safe, I do it. Not sure if that's a sacrifice ....but it sure feels
Like one being the mother of a food allergy kid. Haha Of course there are others.
My body, My sleep, My profanity. "

"My biggest sacrifice was time. I missed out on a lot when they were little. First steps, first words. I was working and putting myself through law school as a single parent. But, I did it. And we are all better for it, and I would do it again."

"My marriage. With four children we try hard to make our marriage a priority, but we are constantly bombarded with schedules, interruptions, homework, arguments between siblings, someone in our bed having bad dreams and tiredness. ...we are always tired."

WHY do I feel like new moms or pregnant moms need to read this???

It HELPS me to know what we are capable of humans. How extraordinary simple people can be. These women are everyday heroes. They are raising our youth; the future of our country. Their job is quite possibly the most critical role (of course dads too) of a human beings life...

When I am having a tough day...I know this....

I know that a single mom of two young girls can put herself through law school while she works full time. I've seen it. 

I know that a young mom can have miscarriage after miscarriage, be torn from being pregnant with second trimester babies and lose them and still happily try again. To truly believe that she was put on this earth as a mom, and dammit, she will be one. Two very healthy vibrant girls later, she is an amazing mom. I've seen it!!

I know that a mom with a child with severe autism, a degenerative brain disease, severe allergies or other health issues can wake up everyday and be a superhero. I've seen it. 

I know that a mom that had her very own mother die at a very early age can be the best mom ever. I've lived it. Love you mom!

Being a mom is a gift. The sacrifice is the gift. We find ourselves through giving to our children.

Extraordinary people don't come about without adversity.

Sometimes there are more bad days than good days for that particular season. Just remember, (if you are still reading-ha!) that we are all together in this chaotic glorious mess of life. 

We are all grateful, we are all trying our very best, and of course, we would ALL do it again.

#lifeisateamsport #encourageamom

How to travel with all of your meals when you don't check a bag!!!

I fly for work and in order to be healthy and travel; you have to plan! 

I typically don't check a bag so here is how I can fit 15 meals into a carry-on bag!

Breakfast: oats+whey protein+flax (all you need is hot water; most hotels can provide you with a microwave or hot water from their kitchen for free)

Mid-morning meal: typically a protein bar. My favorite ones are quest or victory. They both have about 17g of fiber; 20ish of protein depending on flavor. If you heat the cinnamon roll quest bar up in the microwave for 20 seconds; it tastes like dessert. (Victory bars have less fillers FYI))

Lunch: Tuna pack + rice cup (all that you need is access to a microwave-if I'm at a conference center all day I will  pack sandwich bags and cool the rice in my hotel room microwave and pack the meal in the baggie)

Dinner: actual meals. I find that shredded chicken, sweet potatoes and Brussel sprouts fit my macros best. Even better is that they freeze well. So I Cook the meal and freeze them. You can take most foods through security at the airport if they are solid! In the winter I freeze cups of chili in flat containers and break them out like ice cubes and throw them in individual sandwich bags).

Mid afternoon snack: if I workout that evening, I eat a meal. If not it's an apple with a tube of almond butter or Greek yogurt and nuts(in pic), or cottage cheese and berries; just depends on what my plan calls for. 

Dinner: I eat with my team. I will fill in my macros accordingly. You can easily freeze 3 more meals for dinner though. 

Before bed or post workout I'll have my protein shake- ANA protein is great because you don't have to pack a shaker bottle-and I won't have room for one!

Do I have a fancy six pack bag for storage? No. I use a backpack and have my laptop and books in it. We are talking very minimal space here for food but I make it work!

You can freeze almond milk for cereal or oats if you am have room. I always take extra protein bars for post workout carbs; even though they aren't as ideal as real food. 

I have found that if I don't pack my food I fall way off the wagon and feel terrible when I return. 

I learn how to pack less and become more efficient each time! I have even cooked over easy eggs and froze them-worked great! 

How to have a successful marriage with a spouse that travels

Success in marriage when your spouse travels

As we continue to enter a world of wireless technologies and significant improvements to telecommunications; more employers are asking middle managers and higher to cover larger regions. Business is no longer silo'ed by state boundaries; it's gone national and even international and will continue to do so as we progress and become more efficient. 

This changes how we look at the 1950 ideals of family. One person working a 40-hour work week while the spouse stays home and tends to the children is becoming the unicorn of family ideals. A time when both individuals are home every single night to parent, take care of the house, and physically be there for each other just doesn’t happen anymore.  

More often that not, both spouses work, and if one travels extensively it can be a complete disaster in a marriage. The error for lack of communication is extremely high. 

We are going to talk about how both individuals feel in this situation and then talk about some tips on how to transition better in and out of travel.

1. Awareness: Both parties believe that they do more than the other

Jack works anywhere from 10-12 hour days and this doesn't include travel time. This says a lot about a human being. He is incredibly hardworking and is very loyal to his job. He wants nothing more than to provide for his family. Unfortunately, he constantly rushes his wife off of the phone to take calls from clients and consistently has tunnel vision when in “work-mode”. His company loves this and he thrives in this mental state.

Jane is the CEO of the home. Often times she is feeling overwhelmed with kid duties (homework, activities, carpool, trying to add 'fun') as well as her own full time job). She gets up every day to rush the older kids off to school. Rush is actually the biggest word in her vocabulary. Constantly hurrying everyone up, pushing the limits of the “to-do” list, trying to be a part of the kids' life and still work a full-time job, as well as managing all of the fires of daily household maintenance and the kids is exhausting. Jane hits the sack at 9pm most days.

Tip: BE AWARE. Both people are equal. Both people have to respect and communicate their respect DAILY. This is so important in a "traveling spouse relationship"; more so than any other marriage. You have to connect without expectation at least twice a day.

2. Time. 

Jack travels with a Fortune 500 company and is a National Sales Manager, he is not available very often as he overbooks his time when he travels so that he can rush home to his family. He has to be “on” all day and is typically on the phone with clients and employees 80% of the time. Every time Jane calls him, he cuts her off to take another call. Making her feel unimportant. Jack is constantly under pressure to meet sales goals and believes that EVERY single second he needs to be saturated with business.

Jane is exhausted at the end of the day and crawls in bed and is fast asleep at 9. When Jack calls her after his client dinner, she has been long in bed. She fell asleep exhausted from the day and didn’t text Jack. Why should she? He ignored her all day. He texts her at 11:00, and she doesn’t answer. He realizes what time it is and feels like he has failed for the day. He now assumes that Jane is probably upset with him.

It's important to have respect for your spouse and what their day is like. If you can be cognizant of this throughout the day; even if you just send a text; it helps. It is up to both parties to acknowledge that they need to check-in. If Jane had sent a text with highlights from the day and said “I hope your day went well, I love you, goodnight” it would not snowball. Just as Jack should write highlights of his day and say I love you. These small adjustments really show that you both genuinely care, and it helps keep open lines of communication.

3. The Transition: The Weekend Spouse

Living in a household for 4-5 days with a spouse that is gone and switching to have them with you for 24 hours a day can be remarkably hard to execute.

Jack has just arrived home after being gone for 4 days. He is on the phone in the driveway with an irate client that he can’t get off of the phone with; inside the kids are crying that daddy is home, dogs are barking and Jane is just trying to hurry and clean up the piles of dishes and throw the laundry in.  Jane also notices that she didn’t shower and has no makeup on-so she feels like the day has creeped up on her and she starts to talk negatively to herself in her head. Immediately she feels very down and feels like she is failing as a mom and wife.

Jack walks in and the kids go bananas with excitement.
Jane is quiet. (she is immediately more irritated that the kids seem so excited to see daddy when she takes care of them all week).
Jack says "hey." in a monotone voice. He already can tell by Jane’s body language that she is upset. Instead of hugging her (He doesn’t want to deal with her right now because he is exhausted from traveling all week)he goes straight to his office and continues his work day.

This is the tipping point for the weekend.

Jack needs to mentally take a minute before he gets home to transition his mental state from business to home. Coming in and immediately kissing his wife and saying the house looks great and I missed you, is a great start. His attitude of when you walk in the door is critical to set the vibe for the weekend. 

Jane needs to plan better. She needs to set an alarm for her phone to be prepared for Jack to come home. She needs to give Jack a break. She needs to realize that the house being perfect is not crucial. She needs to stop what she is doing and be happy to see her husband and hug him and tell him she misses him. 

Success starts this very minute. It's both individual’s responsibility to stop what they are doing and be respectful. 

4. Engage each other: when both spouses are home 

Jack has literally worked 50+ hours in 4 days. He is worried about a contract with a big client. He has been talking all day every day and he has been entertaining all week. Jack just wants to veg and be with the kids. He wants to sit in his recliner and watch football, he has caught flack from his clients all week- he hears Jane say something about going to church and fixing the garage door. He rolls his eyes and turns up the volume on the tv without even realizing it.

Jane has the house in order all week long, her schedule with the kids is based on a very tight schedule. She has been a taxi for the kids all week and she is completely spent with zero ounce of life to give anyone. On the weekends she really hates to be on a schedule. She craves adult time. Her love language is actions. She has asked Jack for weeks to fix the garage door, she is sick of constantly reminding him.  The house needs cleaned, she needs to grocery shop and meal prep for the week- she is anxious and overwhelmed. She knows that if she doesn’t work all weekend to prepare for the next week it’s a complete disaster.

It is imperative that you plan your week and weekend together-typically Sunday nights are a great time to do this. Try not to pack the weekend full of more than you can accomplish. Each person should choose one thing that they want to do-and they should be able to do it guilt-free.
When the traveling spouse is home-you are responsible for the work of the home as well. It’s not fair for one person to take care of the maintenance of the household by themselves on the weekend.
Divide and conquer. It works if you both split up and try to accomplish some tasks and then come back together for intentional family time. Quality time over quantity still matters. It is better to plan a family activity together for a few hours and have both individuals be happy than it is to have a forced weekend with negative energy.
Communication is key- what works for one couple-may not work for another.

6. Code words. 
I have seen fights escalate quicker when couples have a traveling spouse. This is typical of two independent people internalizing what they THINK their spouse is thinking. It’s crucial that if this sounds like you, you get out of this habit.
How do I do that?? Well, I call it a code word. Life is cyclical. We talk about communicating and we do really well for a couple weeks or a few months and then we naturally go back to our old tendencies.

Come up with one word that is ridiculous. It has to be something that makes you both laugh. If Jane feels Jack ignoring her-she can laugh and say “Burgers and Fries” and it takes both of them back to their first date where they ordered burgers and fries. She has immediately changed the game. He snaps out of it and they can laugh and move on.

Tips that will make you happy in your marriage!!

1. Make life easier-hire a cleaning lady or someone to mow the yard. It’s important that the weekend time is as stress-free as possible 
2. Over-communicate. I don’t believe you can over-communicate. Always be honest and have an open dialogue of where you are mentally. Good or bad.
3. Each person should call or send a text in the morning and in the evening. Write enough to tell the other person how your day was
4. Know that the other one cares- always have a date planned or a vacation planned together-we all need to have something that we are working towards
5. Respect each others’ roles
6. Never say divorce
7. Set up a weekly 20 minute call. I like to do this mid-week during spouse's travel. Get it on their calendar.  Yes. It's not romantic-but its tactical and sets you up to have a winning week and keeps both of you connected. Have an agenda and communicate a plan during this 20 minutes (bills that need to be paid, max's soccer schedule changes, teacher conference for olivia, weekend plans/chores, budget)
8. Shared calendar
9. Don't feel guilty about making time for yourself-communicate it’s importance to each other
10. Spend 30 minutes on Sunday planning the week together. 
11. Know your love language but know your spouse’s better.

“I’m not perfect, but I’m perfectly made”
Jenna Petri
coach/detective of purpose