Mike has returned home from Chicago to attend to some house repairs, while I remain in my basement “she-shed” at YD’s condo. Throughout our marriage, we have experienced frequent times of separation, especially when Mike traveled extensively for work, so I don’t find it unfamiliar nor uncomfortable. Instead, it is for a while a relief.
I notice that when Mike is around, although we are attending to our own interests, I feel a need to. . . what? He is perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Nevertheless, I check with him before I take a walk. Does he want to go, too? When? Stroll or walk? How far? What do I do until he is ready? Is he hungry? What would he like for dinner? (Always, order out.) I go to bed alone. But I wait for him before falling completely asleep. No wonder I am tired.
I started the laundry this morning without waiting for Mike to sort out his clothes. I made plans for lunch with friends later this week; no need to consult his calendar. Tonight I will make dinner and not be concerned if he gets enough to eat. I will turn off all the lights when I go to bed.
People who know us will testify that we are independent while supporting each other completely. So what nags at me when we are together?
My sister observes that traveling with a group of women is easier than traveling with a husband. Vacationing with a group of friends at the beach, “I’m going for a walk,” I announce. Others come along, stay, or join me later. I retreat to the patio with a book and decline playing a game; no one questions me. Meal planning is shared allowing everyone nights off, with breakfast and lunch on your own. While caring for each other, gone is the sense of duty, a duty drilled into girls in the ‘50’s.
And that may be the nagging. When my mother lived with us, she insisted that Mike have a “hot meal” each night. Our division of labor allowed for me to cook and Mike to clean up. Although we were both working up to 50 hours a week, my mother had no problem with me cooking; she was never comfortable with Mike cleaning.
Thus the relief of separation isn’t the relaxing of a relationship; it relieves my female guilt. Personally, I am glad to give it up. Without guilt, the relationship is more equal, more honest, and more loving. I do miss his hugs.