When I told a friend I was going to Costa Rica by myself, she exclaimed, “My husband would never let me do that.”
Back when I was married, my husband probably wouldn’t have let me go either.
Let me rephrase that.
Back then, I would have let my husband not let me too.
Even if the notion had even occurred to me, I think my husband probably would have said something like “too much money” or “too much time.” But the truth is it probably would have been too damn inconvenient. We had plenty of money, and a week is simply a short blip of time. But since I was the one who assumed most of the responsibility of home life—shopping, cooking, dog-walking, paying bills, transporting kids (even though at times I worked as much and as hard he did outside the home)—if I’d left on vacation, he would have felt the brunt of the confusion and exhaustion. Still, he could have handled it. Even if he didn’t like it. But I wasn’t strong enough to impose it on him. Although if the roles were reversed, of course I would have supported him.
So even if I had been curious about the possibility of a solo vacation, and my husband had said I couldn’t or shouldn’t go, I wouldn’t have had the courage back then to say, “I’m going anyway.” I would have squelched down my desire and complied with his. I would have made the choice to be “responsible” and ignore my own needs. I would have told myself, “Marriage is about compromise. Stop being selfish.” I would have felt too guilty about the whole thing, and let my guilt drive the excitement right out of me.
In that moment when my friend told me that her husband would never let her go, I wanted to shout, “You have control over your own fucking life!” But I didn’t.
I had been her.