Start a conversation with a civilian about military life and they’re bound to say “It must be so hard to have your husband gone so much at one time!” Of course, they’re right – mostly. Sometimes I love the time away from my husband, though. Not deployments, but the short 2 to 3 week chunks that he is away for field exercises and training. In fact, I call them spouse-cations. Give me a spouse-cation and I will show you the meaning of the phrase “when the cat’s away the mouse will play!”
I have a pretty consistent list of things I do when my husband is gone, especially since we’re several years into military life.
- Catch up on chick tv! I’m a gleek. I also love Smash, Grey’s Anatomy, Downtown Abbey and the Vampire Diaries. My husband would never sit through any of those shows, though. I spend most of my evenings alone eating dinner in front of the TV while I watch episode upon episode on my roku!
- Eat shellfish. A lot of shellfish! My husband is extremely allergic to shellfish, including shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, lobster and calamari. Unfortunately, shellfish is also one of my favorite foods. I go a little overboard when he’s gone! I’ll eat it at least four nights out of seven. Of course, I have to clean the dishes I used extra carefully!
- Avoid dirtying dishes. I’ve been known to eat my dinner directly from the pan when I eat alone. There’s nobody to see me, except my toddler – and he’s not talking!! Literally.
- Use the same knife for the peanut butter AND the jelly! My hubs insists on separation of “scooping utensils.” I stage a quiet rebellion when he’s gone.
- Host Girls’ Night. There’s no better time to host a girls’ night then during a spousecation. It gives me much needed contact with adults and it’s a great way to add strength to existing friendships. We recently PCSed to a remote location, so I used my most recent girls’ night to turn new acquaintances into real friends. Best things about hosting girls’ night? I don’t have to pay for a babysitter OR drive home, so I can imbibe as much as I would like!
- Take lots of hot baths with candles. Who doesn’t love sinking into a hot tub of water and reading a book by candlelight? After diligently practicing item 3 (avoid dirtying dishes), I have plenty of free time for this relaxing ritual!
- Focus on my goals. It’s easy to lose track of my own ambitions while raising a child, supporting a husband, moving across the country and taking on the extra responsibilities that come with an often-absent husband. Time alone gives me a chance to remember what it is I want out of my life and take a few steps towards my goals – for example, writing a blog for USMC Life so I can improve my writing skills and find my personal voice!
There you have it – my ritual for turning a husband’s lonely absence into a festival of fun. You don’t have to let military life get you down. Work with what you’ve got and enjoy the simple pleasures of solitude. You’ll be glad you did!