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When Husbands Travel – The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

February 10, 2014

Sign trip. Illustration of a group of suitcases and a plane tickI want to applaud all of the women whose husbands travel regularly and often.  I don’t know how you do it.  Like everything else in life, I’m sure you get used to it, but it can’t be easy.  Whether he travels on frequent short trips for business, or the much harder, longer deployments for the military, I know I couldn’t do it.  Maybe in my younger, carefree, childless days, perhaps.  But definitely not now.  My hat is off to you all.

My own husband just returned from his annual golf trip.  Once a year, and only for 5 days and nights, he heads south to hit the links.  I know, I know, no sympathy deserved here.  But over the course of those five days, I discovered a few things about myself and my marriage.

Leading up to this trip, I was honestly looking forward to it.  (Shhh, don’t tell my husband!)  After the holidays, January and February bring with them a funk.  This year, that funk was topped with about three feet of snow.  We all were suffering from lack of fresh air and exercise, cabin fever, and too much together time, thanks to Christmas break followed by umpteen snow days.  I was cranky, my husband was moody, and my kids were driving us both bonkers.  So I was looking forward to this trip to give us some needed space to breathe.

Besides, I used to live alone.  I loved those years of having my own place with only my two cats for company.  I wasn’t worried a bit.  In fact, I started thinking about all of the great things about having the house and the kids to myself for the next week.  This would be great!!

The Good

There really are some great things about having your husband away from home for a while.

  • mommy kids drink magnetEasy Dinners!  Ask any mom and she’ll tell you, we’re really happy with a bowl of cereal or a salad for dinner most nights.  Fix the kids some easy pizza, chicken nuggets, or mac n cheese and call it a night.  No meal planning, grocery shopping, prep, cooking, or clean-up required.  Whoopie!!!!
  • Post-Bedtime Quiet.  Once the kids are in bed, the house is MINE.  They won’t notice that I’ve turned all the clocks ahead by half an hour to push that a little earlier, right?  No discussing plans, house issues, small talk.  Just peace and quiet.  Pure bliss.
  • Control of the Remote.  I can watch Downton Abbey, cheesy 80’s movies, or as many reruns of Grey’s Anatomy as I want without anyone scoffing, complaining, or interjecting with jabs about this “special, touching episode.” I have absolute control and refuse to watch Top Gear, golf, or the history of man’s finest inventions.
  • Full Stretch on the Sofa.  Yes!  I can take up all three cushions to myself and stretch out from end to end in complete and utter relaxation!
  • Clean, Tidy Bathroom.  I love my bathroom when he’s gone.  No cans of shaving cream left on the sink, no razors falling out of his toiletry bag, and the bathmat and towels are hung neatly, and the shower curtain is perfectly draped every time I enter.  My absolute favorite here, though, is that I can actually see myself in the mirror because it no longer has that smeared streak down the center of it from him wiping away the shower steam to shave.  Clean, tidy, and just the way I like it.
  • The Whole Bed.  Our rooms are too small to fit a king size bed, so we share a queen.  Without him here, I can sprawl right across that nice, firm bump in the middle that hasn’t sagged yet and not worry about hogging anything.  All the covers and pillows are mine, all mine.  Let the peaceful slumber take me away!

The Bad

Except, my slumber isn’t all that peaceful and I begin to realize that it’s nice to have him around.

  • red wine popcornLate Nights.  I stay up way too late when my husband is away.  No clue why, but I do, every single night.
  • Snacking.  While I’m staying up way to late, I find myself snacking before bed.  I know this is a terrible habit, yet I do it anyway.  Maybe I miss running my mouth, chatting with him before bed and have to keep my lips busy.  I don’t know.  I just know that I’d be huge if he was away any longer than a week.
  • No Alarm.  I haven’t set my own alarm clock in years.  My husband’s alarm goes off, waking us both up as he gets ready for work and I get ready to get the kids off to school.  Late nights plus no alarm equals an unhappy, very rushed morning.
  • Household Duties.  I do just about everything for the house indoors as far as cleaning, cooking, and basic upkeep.  But my husband does the outside stuff.  When a storm dumped another 5 inches of snow, topped with a wet coating of ice and sleet, I didn’t have him here with the snow blower, clearing our driveway, steps, and walkway.  So I had to shovel  all of that very heavy, wet stuff myself in order to get the car out.  I have a new hatred for snow plows after sobbing my way through the sludge they pushed to barricade us in.  When is he coming home again?
  • Single Parenting. I do most of the parenting on my own anyway in our family, due to the fact that my husband commutes to the city for work.  He leaves at 6:30 every morning and isn’t home until 7:30 most nights.  But even with that schedule, I didn’t realize how much he helps with the kids in those few hours that he does have.  All of the help, discipline, and bedtime routines fell to me this week, making me miss having him here.
  • Restless Sleep.  Although this is the same house in which I sleep every single night, when my husband is gone, every noise wakes me up and starts my heart to racing.  Before bed, I bring my cell phone with me instead of leaving it charging in the kitchen.  I triple check every door lock and window, and generally get myself in a horror-movie panic, imagining every demon and ne’er-do-well coming to get me.  Suddenly having this bed to myself doesn’t sound so good.

The Ugly

After the first two days, the luster has worn off and I need my husband back home.  I am a sleep-deprived nutcase, holding it together for the sake of my kids.

  • Snow Sucks.  (and perhaps my attitude does, too.)  I think the weatherman predicting more snowfall during my husband’s drive home should be hanged with his own ugly tie.  If one more snowflake falls on my shoveled walkway, I’m buying a flame thrower.
  • Empty Bed.  My covers are cold and my nightmares are haunting me.  I need my husband home to reach out and touch in the middle of the night.
  • Kissless.  They may not be the steamy smooches of romance novels, but I really miss morning kisses as he walks out the door, evening kisses when he comes home from work, and good night kisses before bed.  I am kissless.  Even my lips miss him.
  • Kids Who Miss Their Daddy.  My kids adore my husband.  He is a great father.  Hearing my daughter say how much she misses Daddy is breaking my heart.  I can’t wait for him to come home so he can see just how much he is loved.
  • Post-Bedtime Quiet.  Once something I looked forward to, now it’s just too quiet.  All other noises are amplified and it makes this big house feel so empty.  I never knew I could feel such extreme isolation in the comfort of my own home.  There are four people living here, yet it is so very lonely.
  • Missing His Wit.  Control over the TV remote is great, but I actually miss my husband’s sharp wit and silly puns.  No one makes me laugh and smile as much as he can.  I miss his company so much.
  • soap barsFeeling Incomplete.  When he is gone, I feel like part of me is missing.  After so many years together, we have become like two slivers of soap in the shower, slowly molding ourselves around each other until we’re one solid chunk.  We may be worn around the edges, and a little soggy from overuse, but we work best when together.  Separate us, and neither piece is enough to get the job done on its own.  But together, we’re a fresh, clean whole.

I suppose absence really does make the heart grow fonder.  Each trip away proves to me that I married the absolutely perfect man for me.  It’s not just missing someone when he’s gone; I miss everything about who he is.  The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, and everything in between.  He’s home again and I am whole again.

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