Hi Captain Lim,
A great salute to you captain for maintaining this very informative website.
Captain, can pilots have family? I have heard rumors that pilots have a high rate of divorce cases? Is a pilot's job that busy such that it interrupts one's personal life?
I once had a neighbor who was a Malaysian-Singaporean and worked for Singapore Airlines. He was a captain. He often travels from Johor Bahru to Changi Airport almost every day. Amazingly, his wife was a flight attendant in Singapore Airlines too. They even had children. But, after 15 years of marriage, they broke up and divorced. I heard that busy schedule kept them apart for most of the time and they misunderstood each other.
Now, I am aspiring to become an airline pilot. The problem is, can I have family? If 'no' is my answer, I am sure my mother would rage on me because she is a little bit of the 'village' type woman.
So, Captain Lim - I wonder how a professional pilot like you can maintain a happy life, being truthful and have a family?
Can pilots have family? If they can, when should it be?
Read a related answer to a query where I wrote on 20th October 2005, in “Is it true that you won't be able to stay faithful if you are a pilot?”
Okay, perhaps I can elaborate some more to what was already written. As you would have read (assuming you had gone through most of my FAQ), I generally paint a good life of a professional pilot. Maybe I was more biased towards this view because I have been lucky to be blessed with a happy family throughout my flying career.
Now, I will throw some more lights on the general perception of the pilots’ family issue. Yes, many views are expressed. To me, it takes many kind of people to make this world. Some are quite happy to live and know how to tackle the perceived extra-matrimonial issues whilst other pilots’ wives constantly fear the infidelity problem. My answer in the past was that if there is genuine trust on both parties, then you can expect a happy family in that relationship.
Some say, the flying job destroys the marriage. To an extent, it may be true if your future partner is not warned of the expectation of what an airline job entails. It is also important that she must be independent and understanding. For instance, tell her beforehand that there may be times when you are going to miss some family important events.
Further, she's got to trust you and not suspect that you're going to sleep with every flight attendant you work with. It's hard for most but an understanding woman will make it easier.
What some wives say of the frequent absence of the pilot from the family? “Well, when he is home for three or four days at a stretch, they are really nice and pretty much make up for the time when he has to be away. The trips away keep things passionate between us!”
There are however, some frustrations and joys that come with the lifestyle but people never seem to see why plans for time together cannot be made a month or two in advance. They have plenty of notice and can perhaps plan to get off to Paris for shopping in the weekend once in a while!
What a pilot can do to make life better for the family? Well, if you don’t have any kids yet, bring your wife along with you on long stay overnights as much as possible. Encourage her to use travel benefits to see her friends and family while you away. Let her experience first hand how wonderful and glamorous it is to be an airline pilot’s wife. Keep her happy and encourage her to enjoy the benefits of the airline lifestyle (shopping in Rome, New York, London, etc).
If the job is a purely negative thing in her eyes, then it can affect a happy family. Another point, always keep in touch. If both have webcams on your laptops, it can make a lot of difference as it allows you all to see each others faces at the end of the day. I used to carry my laptop with me on all my long flights.
I know its tough sometimes to get back from a long trip and want to do your own things but you really need to make sure you take some time and spend it with your wife. You just have to set appropriate expectations for her right from the start. If one of you can't live with that then that is another obstacle to a happy family.
So can you have happy family when you become a pilot? Sure you can if your relationship with your partner is strong.When will it be? Well, when you have enlightened her of the joy, expectations and tribulations of being married to a pilot.