Uriah and I have been married for nearing 13 years, together for over 18 😱. We have been best friends since we were nine years old so as you can imagine, having a long distance marriage isn’t the easiest thing for us to deal with. Of course, we are human so there are times we want to stab the other in the eye, but in general we are still very much in love and actually want to spend our time in each other’s company.
The focus of our current goals and therefore our daily activities and extracurriculars revolve around our children. Since the beginning of our parenting careers, we determined that we felt most comfortable taking on “traditional gender roles;” namely, the husband makes the money, the wife raises the children. Obviously, it’s 2019 and if that’s not your style, cool! No judgment from me if a mother works outside the home (as a matter of fact, kuddos to the great moms out there who also hold down a job because I don’t know how the fuck you do it!).
I have always had a problem with being able to accept help from anyone, in any form. I’m a real do-it-myself type of girl, to a fault. So when I was pregnant I painted the baby room and put together all the flat-pack furniture and cooked all of mine and my husband’s meals. And when my flower child was born I never let anyone bottle feed her or change her or babysit her so that I could nap. After our second was born, I still wouldn’t wake Uriah at night to help me, because I believed in our roles. I took care of the babies and the house, and he did an amazing job at providing for us.
Over the years, I added more and more to the list of things my type-A ass had to accomplish by myself, and Uriah worked harder and harder at bringing home the bacon. By the time the girls were school age, they had only been babysat a handful of times in their lives, Uriah was working an average of 18 hours a day, and I was homeschooling and running a small homestead. It felt like I was on my own planet with no other occupants besides my girls. My husband and I didn’t have date nights (though we made a point of taking at least one real vacation a year, because we had to spend some time together), I didn’t spend mornings getting coffee with friends or play dates gossiping with the local mommy groups. We had kind of built individual cages for ourselves. We were not figuratively too busy, we literally had zero time to do anything but work, in our respective roles.
Shit like this happens so quietly, so smoothly. We didn’t even realize we had begun to live two completely separate lives. Now, the girls didn’t suffer missing their Daddy because he actually was able to come to the house and see them pretty often. Since he worked in our neighborhood he could come between calls or while on lunch, or while transitioning to his other jobs. The girls felt like they saw him all day. I just started to get used to his being gone all the time, getting used to my own busy-ness of diy this and garden that.
But as sad as it seems for us to have been so separate, it set us up to be able to make this giant leap to Puerto Rico. As I talked about in an old post, I don’t know if we would have been able to make such a scary decision if I wasn’t already doing.it.all on my own. I don’t know anyone in Puerto Rico, neither of us have any family or friends here. I have no one to lean on but I’d never leaned on anyone in my life (besides Uriah, that is).
So now that I am here and I am truly alone and living without my husband, solo-parenting, HOW are we handling this? Well, at first, I went about it all wrong. I purposely tried to not miss Uriah, hyping up my own independence, attempting to grow a shield around myself.
If I don’t miss him, I won’t be sad and it will be easier to get through this without him.
That approach was working, at a cost. He came to visit and I found myself irritated with him for being in my space. Feeling like I wanted him to go back to Pennsylvania! I never would have imagined I could feel that way about the love of my life! But the mind is sooo powerful, I made myself believe I was better off temporarily forgetting my husband than to long for him. And that is incredibly selfish. While he was alone, now averaging 20-hour work days (no joke!), missing his family like crazy, trying to find a way to continue this cultural immersion yet be physically with us as well, I was pushing him away. We spent our time together exploring new places on the island, having family movie night, eating dinner together. But in my mind I revered him as more of a roommate than as my long lost life partner. I didn’t allow myself to celebrate his return to me, which left me feeling empty when he left–I was sad that I hadn’t taken advantage of loving him more sincerely, and cried that I’d missed another opportunity to do so. Yes, I had succeeded in not missing him! But then was left with the sadness of regret for not missing him *sigh*. Being human is a bitch, y’all!
After having cycled through this emotional torture a couple times, I had to have a heart-to-heart with Uriah and take responsibility for my actions. Self-awareness is the most importing thing in this life! I committed to avoiding self-sabotage in the future. I am making a point to remember his love language and to indulge him when he interrupts “my space.” He has been taking my love of spontaneity more seriously and has been trying to treat me to surprises even from 1600 miles away.
You don’t make it in a happy relationship for two decades without taking care of the other person first. Our marriage isn’t “What can you do for me” but rather “What can I do for you?” I miss him! It hurts, and he is hurting so much! But we can allow ourselves to feel this hurt and let it motivate us to pave a way to accomplish our dreams while under the same roof 🙏🏽.