No, he wasn’t having a midlife crisis, although he had become quite heavy-handed with his cologne lately. I wasn’t feeling neglected, although his idea of a fun Saturday night was Dominoes and House Hunters reruns. No one was drinking excessively, although we were buying more lite beer than milk these days. There were no irreconcilable differences, although he never did learn how to use the remote.
Really, we were quite happy. We just thought it would be best for the kids if we went our separate ways for a while.
You see, we’re a Navy family. And like all military families, we’re often faced with logistical dilemmas that force us to consider separation to preserve stability through transitions. In such circumstances, the entire family experiences the hardships of temporary separation.
However, the fringe benefits of such an arrangement are often unfairly dispersed. In other words — the husband totally makes out on this deal, every time.
The last time we separated, I stayed in Germany to let the kids finish the school year, while my husband moved ahead of us to Florida to start his new job. For four months before we flew to Florida to join him, my husband was a “Geobachelor.”
Sure, the Geobachelor’s life can be a bit lonely, all holed up in the base hotel for weeks on end with nothing but work, gym, books, television, and take out; but this temporary period of solitude offers the husband complete and utter freedom from the trappings of marriage and family life.
While the wife and kids are locked into a typical hectic family routine, the Geobachelor faces tough decisions such as, “Hmm, maid service again today, or shall I make my own bed for a change? Sports bar with the guys, or eat dinner at my workmate’s house (his wife does make great lasagna after all)? Read another book, or watch the premium channels we don’t have at home?”
Recently, my husband called from Florida. I left him there on June 10th so the kids and I could take the summer to get settled at our new duty station in Rhode Island before school started.
“It’s hotter than blazes down here,” he said between sips of cold beer, “… so, what have you and the kids been up to?” In excruciating detail, I vented to my husband about repairs being done to our base house, about needing money for our son’s textbooks, about trying to fit in with the neighbors, about the cable bill, about the dog having diarrhea at 3:00 am, about the mouse that ran across the family room.
“Hold on Honey,” he interrupted, “Sure, I’ll take another one of these, and how about the Buffalo Chicken Wrap with Onion Rings?” As I heard him ask the waitress what she thought of the coleslaw, I wondered whether I could convince the kids to eat popcorn again for dinner.
“Where are you, anyway?” I inquired, knowing that he had been staying with friends since he moved out of our old house. “Well, I wanted to get out of Calvin’s hair for the day, so I got a new book, went to the spa, and have been wandering around Fernandina Beach all afternoon.”
“Wait, what? You went to a spa?” I said, looking at my nails, which were mangled from all the unpacking.
“You knew I was planning to get my back waxed, Honey,” he said defensively, “and I decided to treat myself to a massage too. . . . Honey? You still there?”
I was too busy wondering if I’d ever get to extract myself from the never-ending hamster wheel of motherhood and family life, and feel the unbridled, rollicking, deliciously reclusive, self-indulgently relaxing experience of being a Geobachelor.
After a long pause, I finally responded, “Do they have chocolate cake on the dessert menu at that restaurant?”
“Yea, why?” my husband wondered.
“Nevermind, just order it, with a big scoop of ice cream on top.”
I guess someone’s gotta do it.