Exactly one week ago today, I walked through the (supremely intimidating) doors of our International Airport and started my first ever solo adventure to another country.
No husband. No kids.
And I was to be gone a full week.
And although I’ve done a bunch of travel in my lifetime, one of the aspects of getting married young was that I’d never flown in an airplane by myself.
And while I nervously waited in the security line-up (without any shoes on!), my dear husband fed the kids breakfast, got them ready for school and did the get-out-the-door dance by himself.
Was this time apart going to be good for our Baha’i marriage or would it create distance from the lack of shared experience?
Because, really, it could easily go either way depending on a few factors.
- Was my husband encouraging me to go on this trip? (yes)
- Did he have the support he needed to fulfill work obligations? (yes)
- Was I cool with his parenting choices and decisions while I was away? (yes)
- Did we have a secure base of love already in place? (yes)
Not to say that all these need to be a reality in your marriage for this to work but I would be pretty naive to say that time apart is great for everyone!
But this experience really got me thinking about the Baha’i year of patience.
First off, I really don’t think the year of patience is being used for it’s intended purpose right now. I mean, I get that we are still a little baby Baha’i community and still trying to grasp Baha’u’llah’s prescription but, as it stands, most couples see it as a hoop to jump through before divorce.
Which isn’t a terrible thing, just the reality.
Because there is so much stigma about struggling in your marriage (fyi, everyone does at some point) and actively working on it (which everyone should be doing), I think people just leave it to the very last minute, after things have deteriorated significantly.
Having space from each other can be an important tool for remembering that you are separate from your Baha’i spouse.
During this trip, I was able to find my independence after a very long time by navigating the travel stuff by myself, spending quiet time during the plane rides doing exactly what I desired (reading and listening to podcasts) and having meaningful, deep conversations with my new friends.
I didn’t have to consult, negotiate or think about my spouse’s needs at all.
Which was really nice.
And he got to have the same experience as well. Back home, he was having big adventures with the kids and even got a beach fire going (in freezing temperatures)- both of which I don’t love to do.
One thing we DID do was keep in touch during the week.
It was really sweet to get little texts once in awhile from my husband. I updated him on my journey and he sent me pictures of the kids trying on my bras!
He texted after the talk I gave to see how it went and I made sure to call him before going to bed to say good-night.
It felt a little bit like we were dating again.
Coming home and re-entering our togetherness took a little adjustment.
My return home was delayed one day because of weather and traffic. My (incredibly helpful) dad drove the hour and a half to pick me up at the ferry and we ended up at my in-laws house for the night because of the large dump of snow we got that day.
So when I finally saw my husband the next day, it was a little strange. I had just come back from a life-changing trip of giving an historic talk, meeting some amazing women and taking a very courageous step in my life.
On the other hand, he had been holding down the fort the whole time and I needed to make sure that he was feeling appreciated for all the hard work and effort.
So, ya… it did feel a little strange. But also a little exciting too. My hunky husband had bought some new clothes and lost a little weight while I was gone and was looking super fine! We also had some new stuff to talk about and it felt fresh and novel.
All-in-all this little break was a really good thing for us.
We had the opportunity to see ourselves as individuals, remember why we love spending time together and support (and appreciate!) each other during new experiences.
So maybe you might consider taking a little break from your spouse! Even a little over-nighter might just be enough of a space to feel the pull to come back together again 🙂