The question: My husband takes vacations on his own. He does also go on holidays with my daughter and me, but I’m feeling a little resentful of his solo time off. Am I wrong to feel that way?
The answer: There is a lot to be said for the value and importance of couples – particularly those with kids – having time away from each other. Time apart can give people a chance to recharge, to devote time and attention to one’s own needs separate from the demands of others, and to appreciate their spouse.
Whenever I see couples in my patient practice, I explain to them that there are four separate units they need to pay attention to and nurture: the couple unit, the family unit (including kids and other extended family members), and each partner as an individual unit. When any of these areas are not given adequate time, attention or nurturance, the other units suffer.
Now, how much energy and attention is given (or needs to be given) to each of these is based on a number of factors, not least of which is what each couple or family’s needs are as well as what logistically and pragmatically works for them.
You ask if you are wrong to feel resentful of your husband’s solo time off. I feel very strongly that we are never wrong to feel what we feel. A better question to ask is why are you feeling the way that you do, and what can you do that can improve the situation.
Resentment at its heart has an element of actual or perceived unfairness. So it seems that you feel the fact that he gets solo vacations is unfair, and I’m making the assumption that you are not getting similar time off yourself. Assuming there are no other concerns that you have about his vacations away (such as potential infidelity), there is one of two things that can be done to level the playing field: He can stop taking his time away or you can find ways to get your own solo time. I would lean toward the latter as being the best solution.
I would speak openly with your husband about this. But before you have the conversation, ask yourself what it is specifically that you want. Do you want time away by yourself? With girlfriends or family? Do you wish you had vacations with him only, without your daughter? What is it about the time away that you value most? Is it time away from regular routine and responsibilities? Perhaps an opportunity for you to recharge? Bonding time with friends or your husband? Articulate what you feel resentful about missing. Then speak to your husband about how the two of you can work as a family to ensure you also create this time for yourself.
Send psychologist Joti Samra your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will answer select questions, which could appear in The Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail web site. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.
The content provided in The Globe and Mail's Ask a Health Expert centre is for information purposes only and is neither intended to be relied upon nor to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
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