When Eric told me that he would be leaving for six weeks, I was certainly not overjoyed.
I love spending time with Eric, but serving in the military means that we never know when or for how long we might be separated from each other. So, we try to value and appreciate the time we share together.
We love our jobs, but every job has its unique challenges, and I have found that the longer we are married, the harder it is to say good-bye for periods longer than a few weeks.
At this stage in my life, I don’t have children or even a pet to keep me busy while Eric is away (I do have some outdoor plants that are barely hanging on!). But I prepared myself for the challenge of a temporary change to my daily schedule and the extra “alone time” at my disposal. During these times, I’m reminded of when I was single and all the things I accomplished then. Not having those added responsibilities gives me time to invest in other people and accomplish some goals, and I have realized that I need to be more grateful for this time.
So, after I said good-bye to Eric, I decided to really focus my resources and energy in some specific areas. My goal? Value this opportunity and use it for positive purpose and enrichment for myself, my relationships, and my life..
During this extended “alone time” I did a lot of things like: counted my blessings knowing our separation would be relatively short compared to one woman I know who just said good-bye to her husband for a whole year!
I finally said “yes” to an ongoing invitation to go hiking with some of my co-workers, and I invested in a friendship, using my free time as an opportunity to really get to know her better and nourish a beyond-surface-level relationship.
I chipped away at a “To-Do” list of things around the house that needed to get done—those things that never get done because they don’t require immediate action or attention, and I finally tried out that new recipe.
These activities really made the time go by fast and kept me from becoming too introspective or gloomy. And when Eric returned, I felt accomplished since I hadn’t wasted those weeks away on Netflix or social media with little to show for myself. Tackling some important jobs allowed Eric to come home and settle in without the added stress of lingering demands and pesky errands.
So, as much as I don’t like it when we’re apart, those periods of separation allow us to reshuffle and refocus who we are as individuals. It’s easy for us to get greedy with our time together. So separating for a few weeks and pouring quality time and energy into other people and other pursuits adds emotional perspective and psychological health, a cleansing detox if you will, to our relationship.
Now that Eric is back, the plants will probably die and I won’t exercise as much. But we’ll both enjoy sharing our new experiences and exploring the subtle changes in ourselves that come with healthy, intentional time spent apart.