For those who come here often, you might want to check out the growing comments on the Marriage Sabbatical post below. Thanks for all the contributions.
One of the issues I've been thinking about is how much pressure there is to earn money for most husbands. I may have mentioned it before, but I have never really felt that my earning was key to making it in our finances. That is now the case and it is one of the strangest adjustments for me mentally (and logistically). I have always put a high priority on being a great mom with high involvement in our kids' lives. I also like to make good dinners, keep a relatively reasonable level of order to our stuff in the house (which multiplies at night when I'm not looking), and still have time for reality TV.
By working so much this year (especially these last several months), I'm suddenly struck with how little time there is for "me." I had more "me" time when I was homeschooling and mothering and nursing and carrying a baby than now when my kids are essentially big enough to get their own lunches or old enough to drive to their own jobs! I never would have guessed that possible.
Yet the burden of earning takes a very different toll. I can see why I am grouchy at times when I wouldn't have been in the past, I feel myself get depressed or stressed or distracted.... typical complaints many non-working women have toward their husbands. It is hitting me with force that one of the challenges in marriages where one works and the other does not is that the one not working may not be able to imagine the psychic energy that goes into carrying the responsibility for keeping the whole operation running.
If both work, it might be that the two are both suffering from that same burden which makes them both overwhelmed, tired and wishing someone could pick up the slack, yet there is no one to do it.
Marriage is supposed to be a support to the demands of living, of raising a family, or rocketing through the galaxy on this tiny planet called earth. If a sabbatical is not meant to help a hurting marriage, then I have to wonder how a break from marriage would be the real rest, real break. For me, a sabbatical would have to include a break from the burden of wage-earning.
If a marriage is hurting to the degree that being apart is a relief, then I am less sure that a sabbatical is the best idea. Women who don't work have the luxury of imagining a time away without also having to provide for the rest of the family... or perhaps even themselves.
All that to say... I am much more likely to suggest therapy to a hurting marriage than a sabbatical. I would be concerned that too much responsibility would be transferred to one party while the other sorted things out with more time and financial freedom to do so.
If what is being called a sabbatical is actually a separation, then it should be called such. Separation usually means that both parties are required to participate in provision as well as care for the children. Separation ought to occur when a marriage is dangerous or when two people are test-driving living apart longterm.
I didn't expect to feel strongly about this topic without even reading the book, but I'm very much aware today, this week, of how difficult it is to be a good spouse, parent and self-nurtured person when you feel responsible for the whole operation. Suddenly my work really matters and I can't just not want to do it.
As a result, I'm a less enjoyable wife. :( And now I'm thinking about how to do that differently so that I can balance these increasing demands. (I'd much rather go enter a Ph.D. program by myself on the east coast and study all day... That would be my dream of a sabbatical and totally unrealistic to the demands of the family I helped create.)
What sayest you all?