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Tips For Adulthood: How To Manage Without Your Spouse

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood. My husband is away on a business trip this week. I’m very lucky that he travels so infrequently....

Every Wednesday I offer tips for adulthood.

My husband is away on a business trip this week. I’m very lucky that he travels so infrequently. And usually when he is gone, it’s only for a few days at a time.

But this time he’s gone for an entire eight days. And because we don’t have a car or regular childcare, it can be a bit of a challenge to manage when he’s not around – both logistically and emotionally.

I tried really hard to gear up for his absence before he left, and so far (Happy Hump Day!) things are working out pretty well. Here are five tips for managing your life when your spouse or partner goes out of town:

1. Be relaxed but organized. That – courtesy of my fabulous life coach – is my mantra this week. As regular readers of this blog¬† know, the “organized” part comes easily. I am, after all, a walking calendar. But relaxed? Not so much. Especially when the carefully carved out division of labor between myself and my husband goes awry. (There’s a reason I’m not in charge of the kids’ music practice…) So every time I find myself tensing up, I just repeat that phrase out loud. I also keep a stress ball located in various corners of the house – my desk, the piano, next to the stove – so that I can just squeeeeeeze the anxiety out when it arises.

2. Do less. If, like me, you’re someone who tries to cram all of the 65,000 things you normally do in any given week into a week where – for whatever reason…school holidays…ill children…AWOL spouse – you simply have less time, here’s a radical proposal: do less. If necessary, pretend that you’re sick. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel.

3. Bribe your kids. I suppose the politically correct term here would be “incentivize,” but whatever. The point is – if you have children – you need to motivate them to get through the week despite all the changes to the normal schedule. In our case, because my kids attend different schools, the main hurdle is vaulting ourselves through the morning school run which is normally split between my husband and myself. This means getting up half an hour earlier, moving through breakfast at a brisk pace, and adding two additional 25 minute walks to my seven-year-old’s day. The incentive? Because I have one of those daughters who really cares how she looks, I have secretly saved a skirt and “half-jumper” (sweater) that we bought last week and she thought we were returning. I will bestow it upon her this evening just in time for…Come Dressed As Your Favorite Book Character Day at school tomorrow. (Isn’t it fortunate that Jane, the elder sister in Pride and Prejudice, wears long skirts?)

4. Treat yourself. Be sure to carve out time for yourself when your spouse/partner is away, where you can relax doing the kinds of things that you enjoy doing (particularly the ones he or she doesn’t like). In my case,¬† as a huge and often unrequited fan of the Oscars, I cordoned off all of Monday night to watch a special Oscar Highlights program (time change made it impossible to watch live), followed by Glee. Imagine my delight.

5. Appreciate the absent spouse. This is also key, for both partners and children. When someone’s away, try to set aside some time to think about and talk about why it’s sad that they’re not there, beyond just the inconvenience of it all. What do they bring to the family? What do you miss when they’re gone? (Be prepared that this may backfire. When I asked my kids the other day at breakfast “Imagine if Daddy was always traveling. Wouldn’t that be awful?” my son responded: “Well, we’d definitely have a car.”) Not exactly what I was looking for, but it’s a start…


For those who are interested, here’s a post I did over at Politics Daily on new medical guidelines in the U.K. telling women that abortion is safer than childbirth.

Image: Glee by statelyenglishmanor via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

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  1. Rose March 3, 2011 at 1:11 am #

    I was a Road Warrior Widow for many years. Cooking went out the door with my husband when he departed.

    For me the key was to enjoy the time with my kids. Travel was an important component of my husband’s job and he liked it. I always felt like it was good for him to go off on those trips knowing that his wife wasn’t steamed or resentful about his absence. After all he was doing it for us.

    There really isn’t much that a woman can’t take care of without her husband — as long as she’s got a Visa or Mastercard!

  2. Annie March 3, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    My husband was away last week on a 3-day weekend (work not holiday). I was intending to catch up with chores in the garden but the weather was so awful so I curled up with a book and the dog and read all day. I’ve started a lot of books recently I couldn’t get into but I got totally hooked on this one (‘The Divide’ by Nicholas Evans). I ate Marks & Spencers ready meals straight out of the packaging so there wasn’t any washing-up. It was all bliss. At one time I would have felt really guilty but I’m more chilled these days.

  3. delialloyd March 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

    @ rose, agree that it is all about enjoying time with kids and not letting all the “musts” like Homework and violin and piano etc totally destroy the fun aspects. @annie-love that story! good for you. i’m a big believer in revealed preferences – i.e. that what you do reveals what you want to be doing. so if you felt like reading all day, that was the right thing! thanks both of you for dropping by.

  4. Missives From Suburbia March 3, 2011 at 1:49 pm #

    This is good. While some of this still holds true for mothers of very small children, that “treat yourself” bit is a much different prospect. Evidence: I have not read any Oscar news all week, because I DVRed the show, since I knew there was no way I’d be able to sit for a couple hours at watch it with my husband out of the country, but I still wanted to ooh and ahh over the gowns and the winners after he returned. There was no babysitter this week to help out here either, so with two kids, two dogs, and a cat, it has been wall-to-wall mom duty. There are many tricks to dealing with that, but you need a version of this post for the “Parenting to the Under-Four” set.

    • delialloyd March 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm #

      @missives, how right you are. have moved out of “under 4s” which is, as you point out, v. dift territory. thanks for dropping by!

  5. aliey March 3, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    I love this one. especially as MSH is away this week. Our big TREAT? taking a taxi to school. because when the kids wake up at 7:15 and you need to walk out the door at 7:41 to make the bus, the extra 10 minutes is so worth the $9. x

    • delialloyd March 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

      @aliey, LOL. I took a cab from my son’s school to his football practice the other day b/c I just couldn’t manage it all…kit bag/violin/2 backpacks/2 kids and only 30 minutes to get from here to there w/a crappy bus. felt guilty for all of 30 seconds. but my own SH would never ever have done that…

  6. Howard Baldwin March 3, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Does anybody else have trouble sleeping when their spouse isn’t in the bed? Both my wife and I experience this reaction.

    • delialloyd March 3, 2011 at 8:43 pm #

      I do, howard! so much space! so cooooollllld!

  7. daryl boylan March 3, 2011 at 8:15 pm #

    Why oh why can’t unwanted pregnancy/abortion be labelled for what is — a contraceptive failure?

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