In my house, when someone is preparing for a week in the field, you can guess who it is quite easily — my soldier husband.
I assume our home is set up like most military homes: one spouse taking on those tasks, such as paying bills, keeping up with appliances and making sure all the animals get to the vet each year, while the other manages to sneak past these with the excuse that they can’t be done downrange.
And it’s true. If my husband, Matt, was responsible for the water bill each month, what would happen when he spends a month at Fort Polk? My water would likely get turned off. It’s just easier for me to keep up with these responsibilities, because I tend to stay put.
Finally, it’s time for him to see what it’s like to be left at home. I’m the one who will be spending a week in the field. As you read this, I am up to my ears in sand at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
Matt’s first concern when he heard I was going was, “What will I do without you?”
“It’s just a week,” I reminded him.
In reality, a week is not that long for him to fend for himself.
While I have spent many nights, including a six-month deployment, alone in our house managing everything, he has never spent one night without me. He’s never been solely responsible for taking care of our two dogs and he’s never been the one to make sure there is food in the house and the rent gets paid.
I’ve kept the home fires burning, but to have the opportunity to see it reversed is something I’ve been secretly waiting for. I’m very interested to see how it goes without me. It’s not that I want my husband to fail, but maybe he’ll flounder just enough to realize my true value.
See, my husband went from his mother’s house, to the barracks, to me. He’s never been in a situation where he was responsible for these proverbial home fires. It’s always been done for him.
I found an article in Cosmopolitan magazine that said you could determine a man’s personality by the type of sheets on his bed. So I asked Matt what kind of sheets he’d chosen for his bed before we got married.
His response, “I’ve never picked out my own sheets.”
The man will be 27 next month and has never purchased sheets. They’ve always been mom-issued, Army-issued or wife-issued. This blew my mind. I think I have determined the colors I slept in since at least junior high. Even more shocking, it didn’t seem to bother him.
Just like a parent who cuts off a child financially, expecting him or her to stumble yet persevere and succeed, I expect similar results from Matt. That which was once taken for granted will be valued.
I’m hoping that my absence will show him just how much I do that goes unnoticed, and that I will be showered with appreciation — or a new handbag — when I return.