The Bad Wife

I dreaded my husband’s business trips when our kids were young. Parenting alone for a few days several times a month left me in need of therapy, a vacation, or at the very least a case of wine and a visit from the fairy housekeeper. I missed his help more than his company when he traveled back then. Perhaps that sounds coldhearted and selfish, but anyone who has single-handedly wrangled a baby or toddler will understand.

Nope. That's not me. (Image source:

In the tween and teen years, parenting alone is trying but manageable. The angst, attitude and backtalk stress me out, but at least my kids are old enough that I can reason with them some of the time. And because they are independent and more or less self-sufficient, this mother’s work actually is done at the end of the day. When my husband is away now, I miss his company because I do fine without his help, usually at least.

His latest trip has been a different experience for us here at home. One of our kids is having a tough time, and life has been more than a little challenging. (As much as I would like to talk about it here, I can’t, because I have to respect my child’s privacy. I’m starting to understand why people blog anonymously. Self-censorship sucks.) In light of our struggles, you would think I would want my husband here with me.

Instead I’m enjoying a few days of freedom. There’s nothing sordid to tell. I haven’t been out boozing, gambling or carousing — at least not yet. Actually, I’ve been home every night since he left.

I’m a bad wife not because of anything I’ve done while he’s away but because I’m relieved that he’s gone.

For the past few days, I haven’t worried a bit about being unemployed for the past four months. While the kids are at school, I write and work out at my leisure because he isn’t here to see me slacking. In the evenings, I relax on the couch in front of the TV without a twinge of regret because he isn’t still working in his office upstairs. I do whatever the hell I want, when I want, and I revel in it.

I’m a bad wife because even though my husband has supported me lovingly and completely ever since I lost my job, I still think I’ve let him down. He’s given me no reason to feel this way, none whatsoever. It’s all in my insecure, delusional head. He wants me to be able to relax and do the things that make me happy. Instead, I’ve relegated myself to serf status in my own home because I think I am not carrying my weight financially.

I’m a bad wife for the same reasons I’m a good mother: I would rather give support than receive it. I want to be the caregiver not the patient. I want to heal my family’s wounds, while ignoring my own. If I want to be a good wife who is worthy of my even better husband, I have to allow him to take care of me a little. I have to admit I need the emotional Band-Aid of someone telling me it will all be OK.

This bad wife could really use a good husband right now. Thank goodness he comes home tomorrow.

50 thoughts on “The Bad Wife

  1. I know what you mean! My Hubs travels a lot, and even though I miss his help with our toddler, I breathe easier when he’s gone. No one to check in with or run things by. My inner control freak can run wild and I do things exactly the way I want to without a negotiation. I’m in charge. I like being in charge. I’m probably a real b***h to live with. He probably breathes easier when he’s gone too. 🙂 Glad your Hubs is coming home tomorrow. You’re a great wife, and I’m sure he thinks so too. I hope everything is okay with your child!

    • Thanks so much, Melissa. It’s good to know someone can relate to this. I think you are on to something with the control freak thing too. My husband and I both like to be in charge. We probably need our little breathers from each other more than we know.

      My kiddo will be fine. Just normal teen stuff. Hard to watch your own kid go through it, though.

      Thanks for stopping by and for the lovely, encouraging comment.

  2. I kind of like it when my husband goes out of town too. When I have the whole night to myself it’s much easier to give myself permission to be ‘selfish.’

  3. oh, this made me sad.. because you are a good wife!! and a good mother. it will be okay! you’re a family, you support each other though all things at all times. he’s there for you, like you’re there for everyone. really… 🙂

    • Awwww, I’m sorry I made you sad. Everything you said is right, and I know I have to take the bad with the good; it just gets the better of me sometimes. Your sweet comment really helps. Thanks, mama!

  4. I get it. I worked full time until I was 46 and we moved to NJ two years ago. Sometimes I feel guilty but in this case we made the decision together since his job was crazy. Still, I do find it more relaxing when he’s in the office. I hate it when he works from home – totally makes me feel guilty for checking email or blogging (my head not his behavior)

    • Exactly. It’s not as if they do anything to make us feel bad about it; we put it on ourselves. It’s such a tough transition from working mom to nonworking mom and vice versa. I’ve had mommy guilt on both sides of the fence.

  5. Count me as another who gets this on all levels. My kids are young, so I resent not having him around to help. But I like him being gone because I can make food the kids and I like and watch what I want to watch on TV after the kids go to bed. And, in my current state of under-employment, I’m not contributing a meaningful amount to our household income. It’s all nauseatingly stressful. Many hugs…

  6. I completely understand this. We don’t have kids yet, but I still like having a couple of days alone every now and then. I really think that it is the mark of a good marriage to enjoy some time to yourself, and look forward to your husband’s return. Enjoy the time!

  7. ((hugs)) You are a fantastic wife and mom and it is totally normal to feel this way. I totally get this. When the kids were much younger I use to resent the hell out of him that I worked all day and then did the grunt work of solo parenting once I got home. It wasn’t that he wasn’t involved it was that he was at work and those 3-midnight are the nature of the biz. I imagine him traveling takes some of the pressure off?

  8. Are you me? Seriously! I’m older than you and my kids are now off at college, but I have felt/do feel how you do. My patient, kind and loving husband never indicates anything either because I don’t believe he feels it. He also doesn’t travel much at all, only a few times a year, but I love it now as much as I hated it when the kids were young. I need time in my house by myself and not just a few hours here or there. I don’t do anything but everything “I” want to do which is usually, read, write, watch movies, not worry about dinners, and exercise. I like being alone. I haven’t worked in two years and I should. I’ll get right on that after this comment. ((HUG))

    • Thank you for this comment, Gina. It is so great to know I’m not the only one. I think you and I need to work on not beating ourselves up over wanting time alone. There’s not a thing in the world wrong with it, and we absolutely deserve it. Remember all those times when your kids were little and you couldn’t even take a trip to the bathroom unaccompanied? I think they entitle us to some time to ourselves now.

  9. I could read the love in this post for your husband and it was very sweet. I know how you feel. Sometimes, I really enjoy my time alone when Paul travels, and part of me feels guilty for it. But what makes me feel better is that when he returns, I am always surprised by how happy I am to see him again.

    • Yes! That is how it’s always been for me too…until this trip. My own issues are at play here; it has nothing to do with anything my husband has said or done. In fact, that sweet man read this post and told me again how much he wants me to relax and be happy.

      I’ll get there.

  10. Aw, no wonder you are enjoying being alone. It’s got nothing to do with being a bad wife. You are really hard on yourself at it’s sounds like it’s the only time you’ve been able to let go of that a bit. 🙁 Hope you can hold on to some of that relaxed feeling for yourself once he’s home. (you deserve it!)

  11. Whoa, I am ready for this sucker to go viral. Because I get you– every word. My hubs travels and I love it and hate it. When he’s here, I am all “stop watching me and being up in my business” but when he’s gone I need his help. It’s complicated. I love how you have spent your past few days. It sounds like heaven.

    This is the best line ever: I’m a bad wife for the same reasons I’m a good mother: I would rather give support than receive it. I want to be the caregiver not the patient. I want to heal my family’s wounds, while ignoring my own.

  12. I have a husband who would never make me feel guilty for any of that, either. It all comes from me. I’m working at taking people for their word, because I can only be in charge of me. It’s really hard to practice after 37 years of doing the other, but I can’t do another 37 years of reading between the lines. Exhausting.

    Trust your guy.

  13. It doesn’t sound like you’re a bad wife at all, it sounds like you need to be a little compassionate with yourself. Taking a few days to recharge is okay, really. And yes, a case of wine certainly helps. Also, I hear you on the anonymous blog thing! Self-censorship does suck.

  14. This post reminded me of some quote I once read about not allowing others to love us fully when we don’t love ourselves. I have the same delusional mind that blames myself way more than my husband does. I apologize every time I didn’t get a load of laundry done during the day.

  15. Dinners are so much easier when my husband is out of town. And we get along really well – no snipping, no grumpy exchanges. I also get the whole bedtime routine started earlier which means the kids are asleep earlier – and the means I get to sleep earlier. That said, it’s always wonderful to have him return as well.

  16. So sweet, honest and relatable. I’m glad you know you’re a good wife. That’s clear to me even after reading just a few posts.

  17. I’m not married, but I can completely imagine I would be relieved when my husband is gone. It doesn’t make you a bad wife at all! It makes you human.

  18. I’m an ex wife, and current girlfriend. I completely get this. As much as I miss having him by my side during the week, there is something liberating in being alone. For the longest time we were together everyday. Now, it’s just weekends and I think we’re both happy with that. I get to be a sloth without guilt when I want to be, and he gets to do his thing too.

  19. My husband travels for work too and I know what you mean. My son is almost 6, so I’m somewhere between the really tough time and the not so tough. When my husband is gone, I write, Twitter, watch shows he hates and I don’t do the dishes. But then I miss him.

    This was a really thoughtful post and I don’t think you’re bad wife at all!

  20. You DESERVE to relax a bit. You must know, deep down, that you are a good wife and mom. You have spent all this time putting others’ wounds before yours. Enjoy the flexibility.

  21. You’re not a bad wife at all – these are totally natural feelings. Thank you for writing about them. You encouraged me, because I had been feeling bad about the fact I miss my husband for his help rather than his company. But reading through the comments I think it’s just a stage of life.

    • Thanks, Azara. I’m so glad it helped. I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself. It really is only a stage, and things will get easier. I promise.

  22. I’m thinking lately that a person can be “happily married” and not always be “happy,” whatever that means. It’s funny – when wives tell me that they get despondent when their partners travel (and I’m not talking about long-term deployments or that sort of thing, just standard-issue business trips), I never believe them. Who in her/his right mind wouldn’t want a few days of being a solo operator, if solo-ing doesn’t place too much stress on a person? To eat cheese-and-crackers for dinner, or not eat dinner at all; to click around on the remote as much as you want; to write whenever the moment seizes you? Everyone needs the respite – and we have to trust that our partners are grownups who, if they say “this whateverwhatever doesn’t bother me,” that they mean it. Be unemployed… but remember that if you were being paid an hourly wage for all your household and familial work, you’d be making a fortune. So “unemployed” is a relative term.

Comments are closed.