For spouses married to presidential campaign staffers, the fight for the American Dream has never hit so close to home. Like a handful of other spouses, I have sacrificed over a year of my marriage for a campaign. Only I am the one needing the guts, while it seems my husband gets all the glory. I am the wife of a senior staffer on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.
For thirteen months, I have gone to sleep alone, watched TIVO fill up with programs he'll never have time to watch, and attended family events at my sons' schools as a single mom. I keep telling myself "we're" in it to win, but the road is long, bumpy and lonely.
We are a frustrated yet optimistic bunch, we husbands and wives of presidential campaign staffers. We knew what we were getting into, but we didn't know it would hit home this hard. As our spouses work ridiculously long hours and attend grueling but often glamorous fundraising events (sprinkled with celebrities and star athletes), we work equally long ones at home—taking care of the kids sunrise to sundown and doing decidedly unglamorous work like garbage duty and dishes.
Blackberries are blacking out marriages. Our spouses' voicemails are too full to accept our messages. Friday nights once reserved for family dinners are overcome by donor requests and the latest poll results. Home life is subject to the ebb and flow of the campaigns. A good news story for a spouse's candidate on CNN can bring him home in a great mood. Some bad press can ruin an anniversary. A campaign communications crisis can botch an attempt to simply have coffee.
The daily telephone calls to touch base—which my husband and I have done for more than fifteen years—have fallen by the wayside. In the first campaign year, I think I called him at work just four times: once when the babysitter called me to report our house had a gas leak; once when I fell down the stairs; once when I couldn’t find where he left the dog’s leash, and once when our basement flooded.