Carolyn Hax: Is it selfish for a parent to take a solo vacation?


Dear Caroline: You replied to a spouse, “berserkwho was unhappy that their husband was taking a seven-day solo trip, advising them to take their own solo trip to even things out. I thought your advice was really bad.

The real question is why does the husband feel the need to be away from his family, and especially for this long? It’s pure selfishness on his part, and very disrespectful to his partner.

My daughter is going through a similar situation with her husband. They have been married for five years and her husband continues to go fishing without her. He made the first of many trips shortly after their marriage. Her most recent was a five-day fishing trip, leaving her at home with an 18-month-old child and a full-time job.

She does NOT want to take her own trip. She wants her husband to be home with her and help raise their new son. His obvious preference would be to take a family trip together.

My daughter has discussed this issue with her husband on several occasions, but he continues to go on long fishing trips rather than spending time with his family. I understand the need to get away from it all once in a while, but a seven-day trip while the spouse stays home to care for young children is just plain unfair. Don’t get married and have kids if you don’t plan to give up your self-indulgent lifestyle.

Oregon: You are a loving parent who is angry and upset that your daughter is in a stressful marriage. I understand that. I feel for your daughter, not getting the respect, attention and investment from her husband that she and their baby deserve, and I feel for you, for witnessing this and having very little appeal. If it helps yelling at me, then go ahead.

I strongly disagree, however, that a spouse going on a trip once a year for a week away from family is “pure selfishness.” You don’t have to decide how long is considered too much; each family does it individually.

I also disagree that a couple with a mini-beef – he planned seven days, the writer mistakenly thought they were ok with four or five – is analogous to the your daughter’s chronic situation of “many trips” that a spouse did not accept at all.

But I’m glad you brought it up, because your daughter’s (and your) very different issue is valid for its own reasons. And so much harder to solve! My advice wouldn’t have been for your daughter to take a vacation for herself.

Although I think she should, soon, with a good friend, take a step back from this life-defining impasse.

And he could use the pointed message of her not being there right now, because she spoke “multiple times” and having a valid point didn’t work.

What would work, you’re right, is a husband who doesn’t want to leave too much, or at least reduces his travels out of respect.

But it is not with him that she married.

No advice can change that.

Your daughter’s difficult and difficult choices are to accept this husband, as is, to cushion reality as she can (counsel, for example) or to leave him on the grounds that a partnership – a family – is not not possible under these conditions.

If she seeks your advice, urge her to work both ways with her reality. Not the reality he adamantly refuses to be.

Leave a Reply