By Sunshine Burges
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.” ~Mandy Hale
Last week I read a post on another page where a man who was deployed was asking for advice because his wife wanted a vacation alone when he returned home. His letter didn’t upset me. The response by the advice columnist didn’t upset me. As much as I know that I should avoid the comments on such things, I read the comments and some of the people, well honestly, I felt like they need a big wakeup call. Actually, wakeup call was not my first thought, but that is what I am going with for now.
Let me recap a few phrases. “Horribly selfish person.” “Unbelievable.” “Girl trip waits.” “She just had a 5 month break from him.” “I suggest some counseling.” “Can’t stand your spouse or kids –embarrassing.” My favorite, “the essence of a dependapotamus.” I could go on, but why? Why validate the negativity being spewed? Since I am one of the wives that they are referring to, let me explain how and why this may work for you.
I am not saying that this concept of Spouse Vacation is right for everyone. Every person is different and every marriage has two people in it. Like Chapman’s 5 Love Languages, every person has different basic needs and how they respond just like they respond to their own love language. Some people need more alone time to function at full capacity than others. There are other people who are perfectly happy never being alone, EVER! Not only is it important to figure out if your spouse needs flowers and gifts or romantic letters, it is also important to learn when he/she just needs space and their own time. Not only should you learn when, but also that it has nothing to do with loving/not loving you or the kids.
As I said, I am one of those “selfish wives” to which they are referring. Not only do I get a vacation to myself either before my husband leaves or after he returns, but I also get a vacation every year! My husband realizes that I am one of those people who needs alone time, while he needs much less alone time than I do to function. He realizes that my job is wife and mother, so every trip and vacation we take with the kids, I am taking my job with me. We do take trips as a couple, usually only an overnight because we are rarely stationed near family and quite honestly, it is hard to ask someone to take your kids for more than a night. Although I love my husband, sometimes I need a break from being his wife too. Sometimes I just want to be Sunshine. No title. No expectations. Judge if you must, but he gets it and he is the only one who has a horse in this race. In fact, he tells some of the guys that I am a much happier, well-rested, even better wife and mother after I return. Isn’t that what is important? Isn’t it important to make sure that your spouse is functioning at their best self?
Another way to look at this, whether he has been TDY or just working too much, when I leave for a few days or a week, he takes leave and he spends uninterrupted time with our kids. That is valuable reconnecting time. They enjoy me being gone as much as I enjoy my break. Daddy makes food that is more fun and less “healthy”. They get to have guy time and play video games and watch movies with Daddy. He is an amazing father who can do most of the things I can (except pack lunches because after my last trip the boys told me I was much better at that), and by me not being there, he was able to show my kids what a rock star he is too. In five days, he called me 3 times. Not 3 times in an hour, but 3 times over the course of 5 days. Want to hate me more? When I returned, the laundry was done and the house was clean. Like I said, he is awesome and maybe your husband is too and you just haven’t given him the chance to prove what a rock star he can be.
As I said, every situation is different and by all means, do what is right for you. If you are active duty and reading this, I can tell you that I meet many more spouses that envy my vacation than I meet those who condemn me for not loving my family enough, so it is worth you considering the option. If you are someone who has spewed the negativity, I remind you that you have no way of truly knowing the full story of the deployment/marriage situation and you may possibly reevaluate your comments, if you did. I find that, like the debate of who can love their active duty member more based on the amount of tears shed/not shed at deployment goodbyes, this debate is just as ridiculous. Just because someone doesn’t want to spend every waking minute with their husband and kids, it doesn’t mean they love them less. Maybe spending some time away helps them love them even more.