Life Lessons from Real Housewives

I was watching a DVR-ed marathon of the Real Housewives of Orange County the other day (somehow, I forgot that the 5th season started in December, so now I'm catching up. Oh, and shut up, the show rocks!). On this particular episode, one of the housewives invited the others for a "Girls' Weekend" in Florida.

One of the housewives was all for it. Two of the others, however, were not. Of these two women (one in her early 30s, the other in her early 40s), one (let's call her Housewife A) was not allowed to go without her husband and the other (Housewife B) did not want to go unless her husband came too. The first one said that she and her husband never go on trips without the other, and while she wanted to go on this Girls' Weekend alone, her husband would not "let her" unless he came too. The second housewife said that she and her husband also did not travel separately, and that she and her husband have a "perfect marriage" and never want to be apart from each other.

Much as this show seems to mirror my life (like, ha), I could not relate to the "we're married, so we don't travel solo" argument.

I have three kids under the age of three-and-a-half, I'm extremely middle class, and we struggle at times to pay the bills. I have spent the night someplace other than my house exactly twice since Isabella was born: once when the hubs and I went to Toronto when I was about 10 weeks pregnant with the twins (or rather, during the brief period when I believed I was only pregnant with one baby), and the other was just last month when the hubs gifted me with a night alone in a hotel near my house.

It wasn't always this way. Pre-kids, the hubs and I traveled a lot: Europe, all over the U.S., Canada, etc. I am still not used to living a life less-traveled. Most of the time, we traveled together. But sometimes, we traveled separately. I went to visit my sister in Seattle solo. He went to visit his friend in North Carolina solo. We didn't do it often, but it happened. And neither of us had an issue with the other doing it.

Now, the hubs goes on a "Camping and Golf" weekend with his friends each October. He's been doing this since before we began dating 13 years ago. They golf, sleep in tents, drink beer, fart, and freeze their arses off for two days. Do I like it when he goes? Since having kids, no, I don't, because his absence means more work for me, even though my mom is usually able to come and stay for us during that weekend. But prior to having kids, did I care that he spent the weekend away with friends? Not in the slightest.

I don't have a similar annual weekend away with my friends, although I certainly would love one. At least with my circle of friends, most of whom have young children, it's harder for mom to get away than it is for dad. Should it be this way? No. But it is. And frankly, it was hard for me to get away up until I stopped nursing the twins last November. Since August of 2006 when Isabella was born, there haven't been very many months when I wasn't nursing or pregnant (until now, that is).

Housewife A? Eh, whatever. If you want to stay married to a controlling jackass, that's your problem. But Housewife B thinks a "perfect marriage" is made up of two people who can never be apart from each other. This, I find troubling.

I don't think a couple needs to spend every day together in order to have a good marriage. In fact, I think time away is a good thing. Marriages are made up of two separate and unique people who are not simply absorbed by the marriage when they exchange rings. Of course the marriage as a whole is important (hugely important) but it's also important to devote time to the other relationships in each person's life (friends, extended family, etc.), and for each person to devote time to himself/herself as well.

I will contend that a marriage in which both people do not spend time apart (when the opportunity arises and when money and circumstances permit) is quite the opposite of a "perfect marriage." My marriage is important to me, but so are my relationships with my friends. Oh, and I'm pretty important to me, too. And just because I want to spend time away with them (or all by myself), that does not mean my marriage is a bad one, or that I don't love my partner.

So, where do you stand:

Right on, Real Housewives! Married People are Attached at the Hip, Yo!

or

I'm With Kristi, Who Never Goes Anywhere, But Really, Really Wishes She Could, With or Without Her Husband.

14 Responses to “Life Lessons from Real Housewives”

  1. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    Quite frankly I think I would go with a bearded lady if I knew I could get some peace and quiet!

    Seriously? I love my own company. Probably more than is healthy but that is because I SELDOM HAVE IT.

    My man and I are best mates but even so we are individuals with very different interests so we enjoy doing different things.

    We dont take holidays separately but we DO occasionally do the boys / girls weekend away!  

  2. # Anonymous Ness at Drovers Run

    Um, "Won't let her?" Controlling jackass IS the phrase!

    Hubby used to go on an annual guys golfing trip, but recently our finances have just not been what they used to. When we eventually settle down I'm totally okay with him doing this again, and hopefully building up a meaningful 'dad and boys' bank of memories about going golfing with daddy for whole weekends at a time will be come the norm.

    Eh hem.

    The last weekend away that I had without anyone else, was when I went on a scrapbooking retreat when Skip (who is 4.5) was 6 months old.

    Yeah, I'm WELL overdue for another trip. Now if I can just find some excuse...  

  3. # Blogger Rachel

    Well, we're not exactly the attached-at-the-hip type couple, but even when we are living together (let's see, maybe 9 months out of the past 5 years?) we spend so many hours talking to each other every day that when we go out to parties we tend to split and basically ignore each other. I can't tell you how many times people have quietly asked if we're fighting when we're out 'together' but completely ignoring each other. But I'm going to spend every night for the rest of my life talking to my husband - I sure hope he finds some new and exciting things to talk about ;-)  

  4. # Blogger Mom24

    I'm housewife C. A? Forget it, I can't even imagine. B? Perfect marriage? Ridiculous. Words of doom anyway.

    Evenings apart, yes! More than that, I just have a better time when we're together and wouldn't enjoy going away without Mark--even with all his faults. ;-)

    I think that's what comes of getting married at 17 and 19. We're really each other's best friend as well as spouse.  

  5. # Blogger Melissa

    I've never had a girls' weekend away in the near eleven years my husband and I have been married, and my husband went to a fraternity reunion once quite a few years ago. It's just never been in the budget for us, but I'm sure if money wasn't an option, neither of us would have problems with the other going away for the weekend.

    My husband has his man cave, and I have my office. Our dedicated spaces at least affords us a little privacy and "me time." Now . . . if only we could convince the kids to stay out!  

  6. # Blogger Sasha

    I have only left my kids a couple times (once alone for a few days in NYC and once with Rob to a B and B for a couple days), but I did have a girl's weekend without Alan and Rob (but with Sam) a couple week ago and that was really nice.

    If I were doing a big trip that cost a lot, I would probably want Rob to be with me, but only because I enjoy his company more than anyone else's. We are planning a trip to Amsterdam/Germany sometime in the coming months and it will just be me and him. No kids. Then next year we are hoping to go to Tunisia on a family trip. I feel like it would be wasteful to spend that much and not have him with me.  

  7. # Blogger Heather

    I just told my husband that getting some minor sickness that would land me overnight in a hospital might be blissful just to get away. I could care less who I go with at this point. Those Bravo Housewives, always keeping it real!  

  8. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    We've traveled separately. And, you're right, it wasn't a big deal at all before we had kids. It's a little more difficult now, but I'm all for my husband having fun with friends. At some point (when not nursing every 2-3 hours) I'll get my chance.  

  9. # Blogger Andrew

    You're welcome here any time you'd like to get away. Just the cost of a plane ticket for peace and quiet, home-cooked meals, Starbucks close by, dinner and movies, no family, bookstores, parks, and quiet evenings in jammies in front of the tv. Oh, and almost perpetual sunsine and warmth. Just tell me when.  

  10. # Blogger Christine

    We've traveled separately on numerous occasions. Me: Florida and beach weekend getaway type things, and him: Vegas.

    Generally we travel together and I have to say Tony's friend is going to go to Holland in Christmas and then was planning on backpacking for a week thereafter and asked Tony to go, and well, I was jealous. Not so much that he would be away from me, but to quote Liz Lemon, I want to go to there.

    Frankly if it happens I would be more pissed that it is just bad for us financially right now, more than him leaving my presence :/

    But then again I don't have now nor have I ever had a "perfect marriage".  

  11. # Blogger Debbie

    We each get a long weekend a year to go and do what we want. Hubs usually goes to some car show in the States and I usually head somewhere warm(er) with my Mum.

    Last year I took the boys to visit my folks in CA by myself for a week. (I will never fly with two children under the age of teenagers by myself again in my life.)

    Big trips, I couldn't imagine doing without him. I want to see the world with him, that's part of the reason why I married him! But the odd weekend apart here and there? Meh, why not? It gets easier every year as the boys get older.  

  12. # Blogger Sunny

    During my time training to be a counselor, and then actually becoming one and working with couples (hated it, for the record; give me individual counseling any day) -- I actually learned a lot about marriages. The biggest thing is that details like this (e.g. do they travel separately or only together) really have no reflection on how happy and successful a marriage is. If they want to do that, fine! Does it work for them? Maybe it does. Maybe they are a super wonderful couple. But there are many couples who rarely spend time together because they pursue their own interests on the weekend, and they are just as super wonderful. That's a lesson this haughty housewife could learn.

    For me, I can't imagine traveling a lot without hubby, but I would (and have) spend time with the girls away from him and my son.  

  13. # Anonymous Laura McIntyre

    I hate being apart from my husband , don't mind work and day to day but hate when he goes out for the evening or away for work (not that i stop him of course,) . Miss him and worry about the kids acting up . I really look forward to the day i can spend the night away .

    Oh i guess i will be getting a big taste of it this summer, hubby is going away for about 14 weeks this summer. Will be horrible :(  

  14. # Blogger Nonnie

    I have never gone away for a girls weekend, however I would do it in a heartbeat if the opportunity were to present itself. I admit I would probably save the extravagent trips for my own family, but just going away for day or two with my friends sounds awesome.  

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