Can being apart be good for your relationship?

This summer I will be spending about three weeks with my family while Michael stays at home to work. It will be the first extended separation we have had in about nine years.

The last time we were apart for more than a few days was in 2002 when Michael covered the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. He was gone for about 20 days I guess. That was the winter after 9-11 and I was certain he was going to get blown up. I got satellite texters where he could email me that he was OK even if the power was cut. (I got them free for a trial. I thought it was smart!)

The only other time we have been apart was the summer after we first starting dating in 1992. I studied in Italy for a summer, and he stayed in Atlanta working for the AP.

I know lots of families who spend their summers apart. Either they have moved away from their extended family and the wife and kids go “home” for the summer while the husband continues to work. Or the wife and kids go to a family beach house while the husband stays in town and works.

I definitely think I am going to miss him even though we are going to be busy. I’m glad that I feel that way though. I don’t generally make a big fuss when he travels for business for a few days. He has to do it. There’s no use crying over it.

I remember a long time ago hearing that Paul and Linda McCartney only spent one night apart in their entire 30-year marriage. When I looked that up online I found an article that said it was 10 days but that’s still not very much time apart.

So at this point I am kind of thinking some separation is good where you miss each other and appreciate each other more when you are back together.

What do you think? Is separation good for a marriage? Can it make you appreciate each other more? Do you think it’s weird or awesome that Paul and Linda weren’t separated for more than 10 days in 30 years? Does your family separate for part of the summer to visit family at home or to go the beach? How much time becomes too long and detrimental?

– Theresa Walsh Giarrusso, ajc.com Momania. Follow me on Twitter (ajcMomania) and read what I am reading each day. Great stories on family health, family fun, parenting,  fashion, stars, and more. )

48 comments Add your comment

Julia

June 23rd, 2011
12:52 am

Most defiantly! everyone needs a breather.. you should leave him with the kids and take a week at the beach! :)

shaggy

June 23rd, 2011
7:22 am

Absolutely! If there is trust, you should be your own person. Of course, if there is no trust, why are you with this person?
My wife and I have taken separate vacations, and right now, she is dealing with a depressed shaggy who very much wants to be in Wyoming with his buddy. She has always supported my need to “escape” and sometimes goes with me. However, the absence of bathrooms out there, limits her participation. She knows how deeply it affects me, and I always return better for going. For my part, she does sometimes likes to go on girls-trip, tourist trap type trips, which I loathe, and I 100% support that, because I see how she enjoys it and just want her to be happy…no matter what.
Enjoy your time away, AND enjoy the homecoming.

shaggy

June 23rd, 2011
7:26 am

Oh, Theresa. I really couldn’t care less about what Paul and Linda did or didn’t do. My wife and I don’t look to celebrities for anything but entertainment. Other than singing me a song, acting in a movie, or catching/hitting the ball, I would like for all celebrities to just shut up already.

Ringo

June 23rd, 2011
8:13 am

If I had a wife that was controlling, a helicopter parent, didn’t really have a job because I’m out busting it providing her a very good lifestyle for the family, neurotic about celebrities and royal weddings and obsessed over something bad happening to her children and myself should we dare fall out of her sight, then YES – leave me alone woman for a few weeks and go see your family! I need a break from you!!!

JJ

June 23rd, 2011
8:20 am

Absence makes the heart grow fonder!!!

DB

June 23rd, 2011
8:30 am

I’m probably the wrong person to ask this question of :-) My husband has been working on a long-term project for the last four years that has required him to be out-of-state for usually two to three weeks at a time. I’ve always been accustomed to him traveling, but the last three years has been particularly intense. I’ve been able to visit him at his project site, but frankly, he’d rather come home and relax and get away from work, so I don’t go often.

Do I miss him? Yes, very much. We usually talk on the phone at least once a day, but sometimes may end up skipping a day or two if we get really busy. I don’t know that it’s necesssarily “good” for a marriage, but it is what it is, and it’s not necessarily “bad”, either. There’s absolutely no question of infidelity.

However, our children are much older and are out in the world, now. If my kids were the same age as yours, I would think that separations would be harder. But as you say, he has to travel for work, so making a fuss about it is completely useless and just makes it harder. It really makes you appreciate what military families deal with on a regular basis, doesn’t it? At least with Michael and my husband, I’m not wondering if they haven’t called or emaled because they’ve been blown up.

Becky

June 23rd, 2011
8:39 am

Yes, I think it’s good for the couple..When we were first married, my husband was out of town every weekend and most of the month of May..For the first 14 years of our marriage, we were never togther for Valentines day..

My oldest sister was married to her husband for 38 years (his death)..Other than her being in the hospital having babies, up until their 34th anniversary, they never spent a night apart..Then he lost his job teaching where they lived..He got a job about 4 hrs away and until his death they lived apart during the week..

I don’t want to be with someone 24/7, like shaggy said, I want to be alone every once in a while..

jarvis

June 23rd, 2011
8:57 am

I’m with Theresa on this one. I like the time apart, but 3 weeks is a little too long for me. I prefer a week stretching into 2, but that’s about all I’d care for.

Jeff

June 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

It depends on the marriage! Some marriages are better with the distance, but for some it’s an indicator of problems. Only you can answer that.

justmy2cents

June 23rd, 2011
9:18 am

A week or two is a great break. It gives both parties time to appreciate the little things about your spouse that you tend to take for granted when you are constantly together.

With three kids...

June 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

…and multiple neurotic tendencies, the time apart will help get the juices flowing better, if you get my drift, T…

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2011
9:32 am

TWG…I stepped on the plane the WEEK OF 911 and the week after and after that. I have never been away for 3 weeks. Ten days is about it for me. DB and I talked about military families yesterday and I agree with her…no surprise on that! My husband was gone for 2-3 weeks at a time, while in the Navy. He was never deployed, for long stints, but it happens all the time.

Michael has a job that allows you to go to the beach with your family, that is not the worst thing in the world by far! Enjoy your options…not everyone has them! Many ladies would be thrilled for either a husband with a good job or a trip to the beach…you have both! Have fun!

@ Becky…I need my space too!

TnT's Mom

June 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

It could be good or bad, depending on the relationship and how the couple handle it. Currently my husband has a job in South Carolina. He heads out on Monday morning and comes home Friday afternoon. It is tough during the week when I need something, but the quiet time is nice too. I get to feed my soul and then can focus on our relationship during the weekend. Our boys are teenagers and very independent so it is not hard to basically be a single mom during the week.

He did this two other times before in our 20 year marriage. Then the boys were younger and it was harder, but I wasn’t working full time and had more energy to devote to them during the week.

It all boils down to the strenght of the marriage and the couples individual styles. I don’t want to do this much longer. I told him one year and he needed to find a job back in Atlanta.

catlady

June 23rd, 2011
9:46 am

Well, Theresa, we are talking about three WEEKS, not 3 years. A period of time measured in days. Take the kids, have fun, don’t report to him every little thing that happens–just take care of it! The tire goes down, one of the kids gets sick—just take care of it! It will be a wonderful, exciting trip and you will see folks you have been missing while Michael gets time to devote to working and noticing how quiet the house is! No whining while you are away. Try to have a funny anecdote to tell him each evening, but keep it light!

Every woman should have time before and during marriage when she is on her own, to make independent decisions! You are unlikely to have to decide major things while you are gone (buy a new car? Turn off life support?) so just TCB, and have a good time going and a good time coming back!

Techmom

June 23rd, 2011
10:22 am

I think a little time away does every relationship good. I grew up military and my parents did it often. More than 3 months would start to drive my mom bananas and a year deployment nearly did their marriage in but short times apart was never an issue and almost always seem to make things better. I think it also prepared them for times like when my grandmother was very sick and my spent the better part of a year in California caring for her mother. My dad spent 3 months caring for his parents last year after they both encountered some illness. Then my dad ended up with a job in Maryland so he’s been there since last June while my mom finishes school in TN. She’s moving up next month. They try to see each other as often as possible but it’s really only been a weekend here or there since neither can take a lot of time off. They do talk daily though.

After my husband was laid off from his job a couple of years ago, he took a job that had him out of town Mon – Fri. In some sense it was nice (if the boy and I wanted cereal for dinner, it didn’t matter). But I also felt like a single parent and head of household since I had to take care of everything. I take care of a lot even with him here but the fact that he didn’t have any responsibilities 4 nights a week started to rub me the wrong way. I didn’t have any me time so when he would complain about having nothing to do but watch TV, I wasn’t exactly sympathetic.

Now most of my instances are extended situations which are difficult but doable; make it a vacation of 2-3 weeks, and I’d simply be in heaven!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 23rd, 2011
10:54 am

Since it seems like you’re asking for a woman’s perspective, I’ll explore a guy’s perspective.

I’m sure Michael is just going to HATE coming home to an empty, quiet, house every day for 3 weeks getting to just hang on the couch or take a dip in the pool, have a beer and grill a steak. After dinner, instead of having to sit through an episode of Real Housewives or Kate + 8 he can watch the game on TV uninterrupted, or maybe even spend a few of those nights actually going to a Diamondbacks game with a buddy or two. Later in the evening he can feel free to surf porn without anyone walking in on him and will only have to furiously delete his browsing history the day beore the family gets back. By about the end of the second week, he’ll realize that an integral part of who he is includes the kids and wife running around and making his life chaotic! He’ll miss them and realize there is only so many games to watch and so much porn to surf before you eventually get bored and want them to come home. And he’ll remember that for a while after they get back, but around March or April of next year, he’ll remember those three weeks with a little more fondness and start wondering if you’ll be taking your trip again, because he’s missed out on a lot of games, there’s been no quiet time for 9 months, and who knows what new and exciting porn sites have popped up…and he’ll miss that, not because he doesn’t love his family, but because the summer break can be a nice respit to make him really realize how much he loves them.

teresa's husband

June 23rd, 2011
11:09 am

I, uh…think it would be, uh, great if you disappeared, I mean, great if you went away for a while, far away, for a , uh, well long time, a very long time. I moved 3000 miles OTP thinking, hoping you, uh wouldnt follow me, but you did, you did, and now, uh, well just go away, please, please just go away. (sobbing) just …..leave

JATL

June 23rd, 2011
11:12 am

I love my husband, but I also love time away from him! You are so freaking lucky to be doing what you’re doing this summer! I wouldn’t bat an eye at 3 weeks. My husband on the other hand hates it when I’m gone -with or without the kids. I’ve asked him about enjoying alone time, but he really doesn’t very much. I used to think he was just trying to be nice, but years of whining over the phone and getting wrankled when I’m getting ready to go have shown differently. I just happen to LOVE alone time (lots of it), and time with my friends, and he doesn’t like alone time -but he does go on guy trips a few times a year (and I like it!).

Mark

June 23rd, 2011
11:14 am

When the cat’s away the mice will play!

jbm

June 23rd, 2011
11:16 am

We’ve been together 11 years and still haven’t spent a day apart. We’re best friends and do everything together. He knows he can do what he wants but even last year turned down a fishing/camping trip with his buddies at the last minute. I on the other hand would kind of enjoy a week of just hanging out by myself and doing nothing.

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2011
11:55 am

My Mother never went anywhere without my Dad. She tisked me for doing so and leaving my family. WHAT WILL THEY EAT? :) HOW WILL THEY MANAGE?

After she died, my Dad remarried. StepMom has taken several trips alone to see her family and even a cruise for a week. She spent either Thanksgiving or Christmas ( can’t remember) with her son’s family and my Dad did not go as he hates travel and the remote possibility of snow. I thought it was weird but what else is new? He told us we could come to see him ( hint) but with our work schedules, the trip was not possible.

Thinking of my Mom’s words ( to me) is funny now.

JJ

June 23rd, 2011
12:11 pm

Wells Fargo across the street from my office just got robbed, and one person was shot……the robber is still at large….

3 helicopters are hovering above my office, we have the building on lockdown…..

Wayne

June 23rd, 2011
12:17 pm

Oh man, that has to be pretty dang scary…

Becky

June 23rd, 2011
12:33 pm

@JJ..My neice is a manager at Domino’s just up the road and she was robbed at gunpoint (during the day) Tues..Pretty dang scary…

penguinmom

June 23rd, 2011
1:12 pm

When spouses today are away from each other for extended periods of time it always reminds me of reading John Adams biography. He traveled A Lot when he was married to Abigail and that was when traveling meant days or weeks to get to a place and then he would stay for a long time taking care of whatever business or government job he was doing. I can’t even imagine not seeing your husband for over a year especially back when there were no modern conveniences so feeding and clothing children and tending to the house were back-breaking jobs. We really have it easy in comparison.

I think being away some is nice but don’t really think it’s weird if someone wants to stay together all the time unless they are isolating themselves from everyone else.

motherjanegoose

June 23rd, 2011
1:16 pm

JJ…too scary. The pharmacy my son worked at, while at UGA, was robbed. He was not working at the time but he called me, in case I saw the news. People are pretty desperate. Not sure if it is those who are out of work or those who think they need what everyone else seems to have. The robbery at the pharmacy was for pills that could be sold for a lot of $$$ on the street.

Drago

June 23rd, 2011
1:20 pm

I don’t mind being around my spouse all the time, its her family that I could stand taking a nice long break from! The “obnoxious level” has gone through the roof these last few months, and no sign of letting up! Help me.

jarvis

June 23rd, 2011
1:22 pm

Tiger that was a very accurate account of how I feel when my wife and kids leave town.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 23rd, 2011
1:42 pm

@jarvis…..I don’t pretend to speak for all men….but I think that encapsulated a fair percentage of them!!!

Hedley Lamarr

June 23rd, 2011
1:50 pm

The best thing for my marriage would be if we were permanently apart.

I DON'T EVEN LIKE MILK

June 23rd, 2011
2:03 pm

Four days of peace and quiet are what the Dr. ordered.

jj

June 23rd, 2011
2:08 pm

More than anything it depends on the marriage and the two people in it. For some couples it works out just fine. For others it would be awful. In my first marriage my spouse was in the military for the first 15 years. He spent a great deal of the time away from home. It worked out for us. Most of the time I felt like a single parent, but without the financial stress. When he was home, I got a break, enjoyed having him around and he wasn’t home long enough for us to get on each other’s nerves. When he took early retirement and we returned to our home town we both discovered we really didn’t like being ‘together’ all the time. In fact in time we came to realize we really didn’t ‘like’ each other much at all. We drifted apart. He began to cheat, I began to eat. Both spelled the end of the marriage.
I am now married to a wonderful man. He’s everything I ever wanted and dreamed of. We haven’t spent a night apart since the first night we spent together. The longest time we’ve been apart is the hours he’s at work. We love being together, and love doing almost everything together. I say almost because seriously who loves housekeeping? Which we do together, but don’t really ‘enjoy’ doing it. It’s been the happiest four + years of our lives. He by the way agrees with me.
So, like I said, it all depends on the marriage and the two people in it.

Robert

June 23rd, 2011
2:15 pm

The recession has caused alot of people to adapt to the changing job market. For example it is no longer practical for people to think they can work where they live. The global economy has created challenges that require you to search for work were ever you can find it. Since 2006 I have been commuting from NC to GA on a weekly basis. I work a 10 hour workday 4 days per week (Monday-Thur). I go home on Thursday night and return to work early (4:00am) Monday morning. I have a MBA and over 25 years experience in IT. Real men who love their families will do whatever is required to put food on the table and keep the family together. My wife and I appreciate the sacrifices we make and we work hard to keep each other happy.

catlady

June 23rd, 2011
2:58 pm

My daughter was crossing the park downtown at GSU a year or so ago and a guy was shot right there. A few weeks earlier she looked out her window and saw a zebra running by (you remember this?) Never a dull moment in downtown ATL.

CDW

June 23rd, 2011
3:12 pm

I’m a big fan of the occasionally boys or girls weekend away. Neither of us travels for a living, so having the bed, the remote, and the house to ourselves every once in awhile is nice for both of us.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 23rd, 2011
3:21 pm

An open suggestion to Michael Giarrusso……Vegas is an hour’s flight from PHX. HIT IT while the family is out of town dude!!!! it’s not like the weather is any less hellish there than AZ! And plus the forecast is always 72 and smokey in the casinos! Be a modern day Braveheart! Hit a strip joint, gamble, drink too much! they can take away your money, your free time, and your will to live, but they’ll never take away your FREEEEEDOMMMMM!

Ringo

June 23rd, 2011
3:56 pm

But Tiger, Michael won’t have any quiet time because that woman will be texting him, calling him, emailing him constantly – “Did you remember to do X?” or “Dont’ forget to do Y”. RING….

jarvis

June 23rd, 2011
4:27 pm

Ringo only made the cut because Pete Best was lacking a personality.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 23rd, 2011
6:00 pm

“I got satellite texters where he could email me that he was OK even if the power was cut. (I got them free for a trial. I thought it was smart!)”

I wonder at what point in your marriage the light turned on over his head that he married his mother. Michael…make the Vegas trip….reclaim your stones….that is, if they’re not in TWG’s luggage half way across the country.

justmy2cents

June 23rd, 2011
6:46 pm

LOL @ Tiger…amen to the Vegas trip and your last comment! I’ve encouraged my hubby to have guy weekends, go to strip clubs, etc. I don’t care where he gets his appetite, as long as he comes home for dinner!

theresa

June 23rd, 2011
10:59 pm

Tiger I think moms would like to have some time alone in their house too. I could get sooo much done and it would be lovely to read quietly. Mg is actually very bad over the phone so we don’t talk much when we are apart. I think he will work out a lot. There a tons of casinos right by our house. He doesn’t have to fly to vegas. He would love it ifhis bro or best friend flew out but I don’t think I wil happen. I did ask him to do a couple of things while we’re gone that I would do if I were there. I think the dads may get the best end of this deal when moms take the kids away.

Drago

June 24th, 2011
12:29 am

Robert,
There are alot of “Real Men” out there that are struggling to find ANYTHING! I’m one of them. I also hold an MBA, yet I am “under-qualified” for the jobs that I really want to pursue. But I am also not too proud to keep myself from going after the jobs that I am WAY “over-qualified” for! Same results though. I love my family and consider myself a “Real Man!” I don’t care where I work or what I have to do. Good for you that you travel from SC to GA everyday! Being in IT you can obviously afford a vehicle (+ the gas) to get you where you need to go! Others are not so fortunate, so shove it with the self-righteous/preachy comments!

motherjanegoose

June 24th, 2011
4:55 am

Drago…Does Robert drive from GA to SC EVERY DAY? I am thinking it is out on M and home on Th with 10 hour days. Maybe I read that wrong. Even so, it may be quicker to drive to SC, from my house, every day than drive through the traffic here some days. Good luck to you…this economy sucks doesn’t it?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 24th, 2011
10:32 am

@theresa…”He doesn’t have to fly to vegas”…..you just don’t get it!!! Anyone who thinks that hitting a couple of indian casinos is even remotely equivalent to going to vegas has obviously never had a proper weekend in vegas! :-)

“I think moms would like to have some time alone in their house too” I fully understand that mom’s would like time in a quiet house as well, I get that completely, I was just providing a uniquely male perspective.

“I think the dads may get the best end of this deal when moms take the kids away” STOP RIGHT THERE! You DON’T get to do that. You take the kids back home in large part because it’s the “toughest year of your life” and you hate Arizona and you are homesick and can’t stand being away from mommy so YOU decide to pack up the kids and go back to that safe zone for 3 weeks. You DON’T get to now matyr yourself and complain about how the dad’s are getting the better end of the deal. My GOD, you know what you should do? when you get back home to AZ, you should nail yourself to a cross on the wall so that Michael and the kids fully understand the sacrifices you make for them!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

June 24th, 2011
11:21 am

Tiger — I was mostly referring to other friends who are doing similar things where dad stays home to work but mom has the three kids with her where ever she goes. A have a friend who takes the kids to her parent’s beach house each summer. While that is lovely, it is also not easy to care for three kids alone no matter where you are. the husband is left to work eight hours and then come home to a clean quiet house where can he pursue whatever he wants.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

June 24th, 2011
12:10 pm

“While that is lovely, it is also not easy to care for three kids alone no matter where you are. the husband is left to work eight hours and then come home to a clean quiet house where can he pursue whatever he wants.”

See this is what kills me. You completely discount the husband’s contribution in your statement the “the husband is left to work eight hours”. I guess to me, that’s a very simplistic and just a little offensive. Your implication is not “the husband is left to work eight hours”…your implication is “the husband is left to JUST work eight hours.”

I don’t know too many guys who support their entire family financially who JUST work 8 hours and feel no pressure for keeping the train on the tracks so that their family can be taken care of. I generally put in 50-60 hours a week, as do most of my friends/colleagues. I understand that taking care of the kids is hard work. and I tell my wife all the time thanks and how much I appreciate her doing that because I know it isn’t easy. but you know what, she tells me right back that she couldn’t do it without my sacrifices as well. We’re a TEAM in every sense with EQUAL albeit different sacrifices. You just gave me the impression that all those “husbands is to work eight hours and then come home to a clean quiet house” really have it easy. Guess what…..they don’t. What I’m saying is both situations are equally hard (albeit different) work….but the beach house sure does provide a better view!

Old School

June 24th, 2011
8:43 pm

For 8 or 9 summers, I taught in GHP at VSU and for those 7 weeks my husband was mom and pop to our daughters. It was rejuvenating to me and my teaching career and it built a bond between the three of them that is a most wonderful thing to this day. Both girls found husbands who are very much like their amazing father and our marriage strengthened and grew more loving through the years. There are times I feel a tinge of regret for missing out on those summers but all I have to do is look at how close we all are (including the sons-in-law) and how we know each can count on the others and that regret disappears.

karma

June 25th, 2011
8:04 am

In your scenario, real or projected, you’re at a BEACH HOUSE with your kids, and you are “concerned” that your husband is at home kicking back in a quiet house? Are you ever happy? Do you read the papers? do you know how many people are not taking vacations and you never fail to whine about yours. This was a blog where you introduced the new guy and yet you turned into a travel blog, whining about your inability to control everything. Your comments average 30 for each blog (same 5-6 people). Why? because people dont want to read poorly written, unedited, or cut/paste whines that detail the minutia of a horrid, upper middle class existence in a ranch on a basement 3000 miles OTP.