Recently, my husband took a new position that requires a great deal more travel than he had to do in the past. About a week into the new job, he was sent off for an entire week.
It couldn’t have been more timely.
See, I’m of the theory that absence will make the heart grow fonder. Because, let’s face it…no matter how much you love someone, you do not want them in your space or your face ALL the time.
At least I don’t.
Traveling for work and relationships can mean lots of things. You may experience depression when your spouse travels. Or you may throw a party.
But more than likely, you find yourself somewhere in between those two.
That was certainly true for me.
I’ll be honest, though…I felt a bit nervous about him going away for a whole week. Then I thought, “Ha! He doesn’t do as much as I do around here. I won’t even notice he’s gone.”
But notice I did, and I realized that I missed him. Quite a bit, actually.
Apparently, the same was true for him too.
He sent mushy messages, something he never does. And he called us every day.
Table of Content
What I did with our time apart
Well, for starters, I had to look out for the kids. That’s not hard, right?
My eldest was fine with her dad traveling. But the little one? Oh boy. We had our work cut out for us. She cried a lot and wanted her daddy.
So, I aimed to make it fun. The first night he was gone, I took us girls out to dinner somewhere nice. We had a wonderful time.
The next night, there was an activity at the school we’d signed up for long before this. It turned out great.
On the following night, I invited some of my gal pals over. But before I did, I made the girls what they’d requested for dinner. And the next day, we went to the mall. And to the arcade.
And all the while, I was exhausted. I was starting to see what life would be like without my husband.
Yes, I could have fun, feed the kids, not listen to so much farting, and all of that.
But I missed him. It’s somehow easier with another adult around. Another adult at home means you can run to the store without an entourage. Or that you can have time to yourself.
And if the kids are being annoying, nothing makes them fall in line faster than their dad giving a warning in Chinese. That’s when they know they’d better cool it or else.
Sure, he’s traveled before, but now that this new position will have him doing it more often, we’ve got to get used to it.
I think I slept 12 hours the night after he returned because I was so tired.
What I learned
When I dropped my husband off at the airport, I felt free. But apprehensive as well. And I thought it would be fun. It was fun, but I was ready for him to come back after a few days.
Sometimes I wonder if I love my husband. And by being apart, I realized that I do.
So to me, traveling for work and relationships is a good thing. I think it strengthens the bond you have.
I know I’m not the only one. After the whole pandemic mess with everyone being stuck at home, my other friends and their husbands were going nuts. Maybe a little space isn’t such a bad thing.
Plus, I got to spend time with my kids on my own. I liked that. It somehow felt more free because he wasn’t there to remind us not to spend too much or tell us not to get donuts because they’re so unhealthy.
Yes, we got the donuts. Sorry, honey. But we never have them. And we won’t have them for a while. They were great!
But donuts and all the fun dinners and activities didn’t make up for him not being there.
Now that he’s home…
My husband came to me once he returned and said he was sorry. “For what?” I asked, thinking the worst.
No, he was sorry because he’s been a jerk lately. He told me he loves me and wants to do more to make me happy. So we’ve found him washing the dishes and helping out more. He also took the kids and spent time with them so that I could get a break.
Yes, while my girls are bigger now, it’s still hard work parenting on your own. I thought, what if something had happened to him, and I’d be stuck raising them myself. It’s a scary thought.
Of course, my happiness at his return was marred by him not being able to get his computer and his phone to play nice and download the photos he took. So he asked if I could help. His dumb phone was still dumping photos onto my computer an hour later.
I think it’s time for a glass of wine.
But the good news is that it’s date night, and my husband is making up those moments of being away by being present.
So, this whole ramble has really been to tell you all that:
- It’s totally normal to rejoice when your spouse leaves town.
- And to moments later, feel depressed about it.
- And to be exhausted by handling the kids yourself.
When your husband is out of town for work, go nuts and eat the things he hates. Watch the movies he groans about when he’s around, so you don’t have to hear him complain. And when he’s back, make it a point to have a date together so that you can share how it went when you were apart.
What will I do next time my husband travels?
I’ll probably make the best of it like I did this time. And hopefully, we’ll have more advance notice. It just seemed so sudden. A week after he went to the new position, they shoved him on a plane.
But until he gets sent somewhere again, we’ll enjoy our time together. We’re going to a farm this weekend, one the girls and I had seen an advertisement for while he was away. And we’re going to take him to do the virtual reality game we played while at the arcade because he’s going to love it.
I’ll be somewhere between feeling joy that I have time to myself and depression that he’s gone. And even though that feels like being in limbo a bit, I have the tools to keep myself occupied and use my time wisely.
That’s really what it all boils down to. You can either sit around and mope or put a happy face on until you find something to do that fills up your cup.
And while you’re filling that cup, you’ll find you’re replenishing yourself as you need to without pouring your whole self out to him.
That’s what I realized we’d been doing wrong. And he noticed it too while he was gone. So, tonight, I’m off to soak in the tub while he keeps the girls busy. Then we’ll open a bottle of wine we’ve been saving for a special occasion and cuddle up for a movie.
If your husband is about to go out of town and you feel depressed about it, take the time to take care of yourself. Because when he gets back, he’s going to notice, and he will realize you need to put yourself first more often. It’s true; you really must, because if you’re not at your best, you will be at your worst for your husband and your kids.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs. She loves eating too much sushi, exercise, and jamming out on her Fender.