8 Things I Learned While My Husband Was Away

Jill Hanna
Written by Jill Hanna

Here’s the tricky thing about getting married at 22. You don’t really, fully, grow up for quite some time.

I certainly don’t regret it, but I have to be honest, I never had the opportunity to do a lot of things for myself as a result of marrying early in life. I never had the chance to experience the trials of being a young college grad finding their way alone in the adult world. I moved to Los Angeles, 3000 miles from home, when I was eighteen, but I still had the comfort and security of living on a college campus where it was fairly easy to make new friends.

But I married someone who travels. A lot. When you get married young, this becomes an opportunity to learn how to do a lot of things for yourself. At 27 years old, I may have been late to the game on some of these things. I say, at least I learned eventually.

It’s funny how life deals you challenges you’ve never encountered at the most inconvenient times. It’s like the universe knows you’re alone, you’re vulnerable, and you will either sink or swim. When my husband left the continent for a very long trip, I took on all of the responsibilities associated with the home we own, two crazy dogs, and my regular work obligations. And of course, to add to the list, machinery broke, I got extremely sick, and I stumbled on some other mini disasters along the way (like someone stealing my credit card and putting $3000 on it).

Some of the things I had to learn during my time as a “single lady” were funny, some were serious, but either way, there’s a lot you can learn when you’re suddenly completely on your own. Whether you’re 27 or 47, you gotta learn sometime…


1. How to mow a lawn

When you go from being a single girly-girl living in Hollywood with roommates, to being married and living in the ‘burbs in a house you own, you don’t really think about mowing the lawn. Your spouse does it. But when the grass gets long and fear of HOA fines creeps in, you realize there’s a lawn to mow and you have no idea how a lawnmower works. I grew up in a big city, give me a break here guys.  I gave myself a crash course in lawnmower operation, took ten minutes to start the thing, lost the lawnmower down the driveway, and still managed to get the front and back yards mowed. It only took 3 hours. Is that normal?


2. Who you can count on when you really need someone

When your husband travels a lot, who do you call when there’s that inevitable emergency while he’s gone? You figure it out pretty quickly. We all need that person we can call who will advocate for us, keep us company, and make us dinner when the person we usually rely on is abset. That’s just one reason it’s oh so important to maintain friendships even when you’re married to your best friend. Your spouse can’t be everything, all the time. It may sound silly, but you’ll always have your girl friends.


3. Being home alone on a Friday night with no plans isn’t awful.

I tried to have plans every Friday night that my husband was gone. Then I realized, I wanted to see what it was like to have a Friday night completely alone, in my house, doing whatever I wanted. Usually, Friday night is sushi night with the hubs, movie night with my best friend, or girls’ night with the women from my workout class.  Then I had a Friday evening where no one expected me to be anywhere, and I forced myself to stop working. I sat down, pulled out my nail polish, and watched whatever shows I wanted to. I didn’t have to cook dinner for anyone, talk to anyone, or be good company. I just drank my wine, ate my mac and cheese, had way too much chocolate for dessert, and drunkenly slurred sweet nothings to my pug. It was awesome.


4. You shouldn’t clean your husband’s office while he’s gone.

Apparently, it looks messy for a reason. According to the husband, it’s “organized chaos.” So when I told him gleefully, “I cleaned your office so when you get home, you’ll have a nice clean space,” he immediately said, “Thanks, but now I don’t think I’ll be able to find anything!” Sorry, bud!


5. Sometimes it’s easier not to have a second opinion.

If you want pasta, then that’s what’s for dinner. If you want to go the gym tonight, then that’s where you’re going. If you want to watch Revenge instead of Castle, then you’re watching Revenge. No need for debate. When you start second guessing yourself about a work-related matter or something with friends, and there’s no one next to you to consult, you have to make your own call. It’s good practice for trusting your own instincts, and asserting yourself in a way you feel most comfortable. It’s too easy to let someone else make a choice for you.


6. As much as you miss someone, you may not have that much to say to them on the phone.

Sometimes, a long day is just a long day and you don’t want to recount it to the person you miss. But if you’re not talking about your day, what’s there to talk about? Not always all that much. Occasionally, you’re both just tired and want to talk, but don’t have much to say. That’s ok. You can always check in, then go do your own thing.


7. It’s too easy to neglect friends.

When you’re married, you might forget that you haven’t talked to that old high school friend for a while. You get caught up in hanging out with your spouse, or your friend who lives close by. When that extra person is gone, you start to think, “Who else can I hang out with?” Then you remember someone you wish you’d been spending time with all along, call them up, and are overjoyed when they’re just as excited to see you.


“I just fixed my $2400 laptop with it.” So duct tape fixes a $2400 computer, but not a $400 vacuum…ok…noted..

8. Duct tape doesn’t fix everything. 

You know how men tend to think they can fix everything? Well sometimes, their solutions just aren’t that spectacular, especially when it involves duct tape.

Apparently, our vacuum cleaner was broken, and my husband said he had fixed it before he left. When I went to the garage to check it out, I saw that he had “repaired” it with duct tape.

Thing is, when I went to use the vacuum, it honestly didn’t seem all that repaired….because the head snapped off when I went to use it. “You may be an engineer,” I told him, “But apparently you can only fix machines that go into space. Not household appliances.” I vacuumed my house on my hands and knees using a little handheld DustBuster from the 1990’s.

When my husband came back, he insisted he could fix the vacuum with “a little duct tape.” Yeah. Right.

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