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Ellen Voie, author of the trucking book Marriage in the Long Run, recounts a sad story from a former trucker’s wife.
“The very first thing I felt when I found out I had crabs and then, later, gonorrhea, was disgust,” Voie says she was told by the woman, who declined to be identified. “I felt violated and betrayed. I took a vow with this man, the father of my three children.”
Her husband accused her of infidelity, then said he got the diseases from a toilet seat. Finally, he admitted he’d been with a prostitute, but expressed no remorse. They divorced, and he remarried.
Some truckers’ wives and girlfriends are particularly at risk for a sexually transmitted disease because they are in the dark about the ready availability of prostitutes to over-the-road truckers. Others know of the temptations their men face, but – rightly or wrongly – feel secure because they have a trusting relationship.
“When my hubby was driving alone, I always trusted him,” says Alice Aber, a trucker’s wife. “We have so much love for each other, neither of us would risk screwing up what we have for some cheap thrill.”
The typical wife of a trucker, especially a new driver, knows little or nothing about prostitution in trucking, says Phyllis Horsman, who as manager of employee support at Covenant Transport counsels trucker families. “I’ve never heard someone concerned about the women they meet on the road,” she says.
When wives or girlfriends express suspicion about their mate, it concerns the man being with a female trainer or team driver, or the man not calling home after being a week or more on the road. “When minds begin to wander, they imagine the worst,” Horsman says.
In some cases, a wife or girlfriend would be shocked to know the extent of her man’s sexual preferences, and the consequent risk to her.
“I’ve got friends who are married and dating guys,” says one gay trucker, who declined to give his name. He was married for six years at the beginning of his trucking career. “It’s out there, big time. The reason they’re still married and dating guys is because they can’t be themselves at home.”
When a spouse learns of infidelity, working through it can be a monumental task, especially if an STD is involved, says Emily Brown, director of Key Bridge Therapy & Mediation Center in Arlington, Va. But, she says, many marriages can actually be stronger after the admission of an affair or an incident with a prostitute. The key is to work through a counselor experienced in infidelity issues.
“Get it out in the open with your spouse or girlfriend,” she says. “That way, you can open the door to better communication and get the relationship back on track.”
Of course, some relationships do not survive. A woman who declined to give her name wrote to eTrucker.com that her marriage is in jeopardy since her husband contracted an STD from a truck stop prostitute. “I cannot help but wonder how many other marriages have been affected by this person who destroyed ours for a measly 20 bucks,” she writes.
Kelly Wisnosky of San Antonio, Texas, says she and her trucker husband Bill of eight years trust each other explicitly. “He has shown me signs he made that warn off lot lizards,” she says. “We both pay attention to each other and make sure there is no reason to be tempted by unfaithfulness.”
Jane Connors, an owner-operator’s wife who has written a family column for Overdrive, says she hears from truckers’ wives who want to know how to deal with the unknown when their husbands are on the road. She tells them that trust issues arise when there are gaps in intimacy needs, which is common in trucking couples. “When you are both doing your own thing, some of the connections can get loose. Make sure your relationship is solid and everyone’s needs are being met. The other stuff will then fall into place,” she says.