My husband left this morning on a weeklong trip, without me. And I couldn’t be happier! Not because I don’t like being with him, I do very much. In fact, I can’t think of anyone else I like spending time with more than him. But that’s not the point I’m trying to make here. Most of the time we vacation together, but not always and I think that is ok because we have a healthy relationship where we appreciate each others needs. So his vacationing alone and my being more than ok with it is not a symptom of deep problems in our relationship. In fact, it is an expression of some of our greatest strengths – understanding and respecting each other.
I like spending time with him and other people too, but I also like spending time with myself. Alone. Sweet solitude is healing and rejuvenating for me. I know not everyone understands or shares this need, but for me, it is vital to my mental health. Like most people, I tend to live life going from commitment to commitment until the day is done. While some find being with other people a way to unwind and recover from the day’s efforts, I am completely the opposite. I like people and I like doing social things, but these are not relaxing or energy refueling activities for me. People, even the ones I like or even love, tire me out!
Luckily, my husband totally understands, accepts and supports this about me. Sometimes he can tell before I do that I need some solitude. He encourages me to take this time to take care of myself because he knows this will allow me to be at my best. And he wants that for me even more than he wants my attention every minute of the day. It doesn’t hurt that he shares this need; that surely makes it easier to understand and allow. I seriously cannot even imagine what it would be like living with a partner that didn’t respect this. Oh wait, I can. Yep, I lived with a partner for many years who did not respect my need for alone time and used to try to guilt me for it. I had made a habit out of getting up early in the mornings to take care of myself before the rest of the house woke up. Unfortunately, my then partner saw this as evidence I was being selfish in not keeping hours closer to the rest of the family. In retrospect, I think he was jealous of the healthy relationship I had with myself and the way I understood my own needs so well and wasn’t afraid to claim boundaries around them. His unwillingness to accept this about me was painful and this is just one of many reasons why he is no longer in my life.
If you are a couple that desires separate vacations some of the time, more power to you. I see no obvious issues there, provided both parties agree. However, wanting separate vacations most or even all of the time might be a red flag that requires drilling for deeper potential problems. Ask yourself why you want to spend time away from your partner: is it because you need a break from them or because you are not a good fit or you can’t be yourself or enjoy yourself or relax around them while on vacation? Might want to question your fit if answering yes to any of these. Conversely, if you don’t trust your partner to vacation alone, you fear what they will be up to without your constant presence or you dread being alone without them for even a few days, then I’d do some exploring around those to uncover any trust and abandonment issues. Those can be relationship killers. For me, I will miss my husband while he is gone and look forward to his return. But I will also enjoy this time by myself immensely. And I don’t feel guilty about that.