Alone Time in Marriage – Scary or Sacred?

This doesn’t only happen to me, as it turns out.  Recently my friend described this situation where she and her husband found themselves at home, alone.  This friend has three children who fill up their lives and home with activity.  But one night, *poof* all the children were gone.  They had somehow all made plans elsewhere and there were two parents left in a home, left to wonder what they should do?  Nobody needed managing, help, scheduling, cleaning, feeding, interacting, intervening, or engaging.

So this is supposed to be the moment where the two parents say, “Whew!  Let’s bask in this, our alone time, because it’s far too rare!”  Then they fall into each other’s arms and have some earth-shattering times together, be it in conversation, or otherwise.

But my friend described feeling rather uncomfortable.  She and her husband sort of meandered around the home until they found some errands that needed to be done, and then did them.  Surprisingly, that same day, yet another friend brought up exactly the same situation, and her feeling that same sort of displaced and hyper-aware feeling of being ALONE with her husband.  And that feeling?  It isn’t unknown to me, I’ve been there too.

So I can only believe that we are not three freaks feeling something unique, but that this is a pretty common occurence.  Here’s my take – when Anson and I plan a date, to get out of the house for a few hours, it feels great.  But it’s always a little weird to come home to an empty home.  If our son is at a sleepover, or goes out without us to a birthday party,  home just feels a little foreign and quiet.  Too quiet, as they say in the horror flicks right before someone gets murdered.

So is this trouble?  Before we had kids we were alone, and knew how to be alone.  How is it that it changes so dramatically?  Is it weird that so much of our relationship has become what we do with the kid/s and not what we do together?  Or is it just the normal course of things, because we are actually no longer two, but three (soon to be five. FIVE!)?

11 thoughts on “Alone Time in Marriage – Scary or Sacred?

  1. You know my husband recently surprised me and dropped our girls off at their grandparents house and the moment I found I out, I didn’t think “WOO HOO” instead I was riddled with anxiety. I spent the next 36 hours going between anxiety, boredom, and truth be told a little anger at my husband for springing this on me without providing “anything” to fill in the emptiness. The funny thing is this wasn’t the first time, but in the past we have made the decision to drop them off for a purpose, we had something we wanted/needed to do, but without that “something” it was very uncomfortable. It’s an interesting foreshadowing to what “empty nest syndrome” must really feel like 🙂

    Thanks for bringing this up!

  2. Yep. Us too.
    The worst is when I try to make some alone time for us to check in with each other and I get the….”so what do you want to talk about?” like I’m running this show and forgot to send him the script. Ugh. Unfortunately, we have been known to navigate this awkwardness with bad TV, dessert, or early to bed.

    Takes practice shifting from being a human-doing to a human-being. I figure we’ll have lots of time to finesse our togetherness when the kids leave the nest…I can deal with the occasional gawky evening in the meantime.

  3. i’ve definitely (and recently) thrown the “what do you want to talk about then?” card at the missus, but it really is just an annoying way of telling her to cut the drama when she says we never talk. cuz let’s face it, we are talking when i’m asking her to keep the box of matches out of reach of the littles, right? but i don’t think it is actual discomfort felt when the kids are out. i think it is just a change from the normal- just different, and certainly nothing that some whispering and biting couldn’t overcome. i’m guessing here- the apartment has never been devoid of atleast some of the swarm.

  4. We are on the last of five kids. He is 19 now, and I can’t believe that we will get the house to ourselves, again. Son went to camp for a week, we had a blast. Took a couple of days for a quick get away, and just ‘caught’ up. It seems that as time progresses, and kids start leaving, everything comes back, just ‘like riding a bike’. SMILE

  5. Having an only child and being two creative parents that work out of the house may make our situation a bit different. I love the time together as a family but also relish in the time I get my husband to myself. We were just two for sixteen years and have not forgotten how to change gears when our kiddo is either sleeping or at school. The difference is we have no family near by and have only had a night off three times in three and half years. Great question but remember to enjoy the moment whatever it may be and silence is sometimes golden, unless of course, it comes in the horror movie Jodi mentioned and the lights don’t work and it’s raining and windy and you are wearing really tight belly bottoms and a cat just startled you and the phone line is cut. You know the rest…

  6. My wife and I get that same feeling when spontaneously separated from our kid. Yes, it’s weird (and almost universal, it would seem). I think it’s a situation where responsible parents (hey, who woulda’ thought that label would apply to me?) can’t help but feel a bit irresponsible by simply not having the kid(s) with them, when someone else does. I qualify this, because I doubt the party parents, who are not minding their kids anyway, feel the least bit of angst when separated like this.

    Another intriguing subject, I have to say. Thanks for sharing. (Who knew?!)

  7. Wow – I’m actually surprised (in a good way) that so many of people who are in great marriages and relationships experience this same thing. I’m getting that it’s the element of surprise that throws most of us off – Krista I would have had exactly the same reaction as you! And LeLaLu – I’ve felt the script thing a MILLION times. What is that? So funny.

    Eddie – it’s not fair because I know you guys and like you guys so much that I just don’t believe there is every any chance that you’re disagreeing about anything. And your swarm is mighty big. Maybe one day it’ll be empty and then….get back to me.

    Jonni – really 5?!?! Wow. That’s just – epic. I suppose as you get ready for it, it must seem more natural. It’s just when the empty place sneaks up on me…it’s like jumping from one dimension to another. Congrats on your upcoming smiles together.

    Dotty – I need to hang out with you guys so I can remember how to be alone with my dude. Hmmmm….how are we going to make that happen??

    VA Biker – you’ve totally dialed it. I DO think it’s the spontaneous seperation that makes it uncomfortable. When there’s nothing planned because so much of our life is based on our schedule around the child. When they’re gone suddenly it just feels upside-down. Thanks for reading!

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  9. I love bodyguard books! I think it is something about their protective but take charge attitudes. Those plus the idea that they are with the charge for such a long period, a lot can be revealed.

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