When we moved to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, my husband moved into mythical creature status. Many mornings he sneaks out in the black of the early morning for physical training. Most nights, his chair sits empty at our white farm table. Pilot training, aerial gunnery, field exercises, and work exercises take him away some weekends too. When he is home, his black work phone buzzes and rings in a constant stream of interruption.
The old me would have been resentful of my husband’s demanding work schedule. Unfortunately, the resent still tries to sneak in, but I believe that my husband is not the enemy, and I cling to that truth. He proves his dedication to us constantly by actively helping in whatever we need when he is home (no matter how tired he is).
The combination of military job stress and family responsibilities presents a daily challenge for our service members. Trust me, I’m not downplaying the family’s sacrifice, but it’s okay to recognize the service members’ stress, too, it’s not a competition.
Recently, an opportunity for a solo recreational trip presented itself to my husband. I told him to take it, even though it meant I’d be taking on more responsibility in his absence. He was already in burnout mode, and I knew he needed this vacation to recalibrate. Here were the benefits of sending him on vacation alone:
A Realignment of Priorities
Taking a break from work and family helped him to reevaluate his priorities. So often, the job doesn’t allow for the family to come first, but away from the insane pace my husband was used to, he could see areas where adjustments could happen.
A Renewed Appreciation for Our Family
My husband regularly expresses his gratitude for our family, but working 12-14 hours and then immediately jumping into parenting responsibilities breeds a season of exhaustion. Taking a vacation by himself helped him catch his breath and appreciate our family in a new light.
A Reengaged Willingness to Help Out
While he was away on his trip, my husband knew how much I was responsible for in his absence. (We have three very spirited children!) So as soon as he returned home, he was eager to help out and give me a break. He took our son fishing, played dolls with our daughters, cooked dinner, let me have a day to myself, and gave me a massage.
If your husband is in a season of extreme demand on the job and homefront, consider sending him on vacation alone. Of course, it means more work for you while he’s gone, but it is well worth it for everyone in the end.