The Great Predeployment In-Law Leave Debate


If you’ve ever dealt with a deployment you’ve probably also encountered the great and troubling leave question: Where should you spend your spouse’s predeployment leave? Or, rather, exactly how much of that leave should be spent with his parents?

I’m living this problem right now. Which is why this post is brought to you from a secret location in Ohio 30 minutes from the closest grocery store. (And if you know anything about Ohio, you know that you’ll never be able to use that information to find me because “30 minutes from the closest grocery store” describes pretty much the majority of this state).

I love my husband’s family. I think they are beautiful, caring people. His mother has taught me so much about strength and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable circumstances. After she was in a near-fatal car accident in 2008 she fought back, spending much of a year in a nursing home, and is now almost completely mobile and teaching special ed at an elementary school. His father has been a blue collar worker almost his entire life, instilling in my husband invaluable personal finance principles that have left us 100 percent debt free.

These people are keepers.

And yet I do not, under any circumstance, want to spend predeployment leave with them. I’m selfish. If my husband has to go away for nine straight months, I want him all to myself for the several weeks prior. I guess I can share him with our sons. But only because he’ll change the diapers. (Kidding. Sort of.)

But of course that’s not how it works out. Of course I put Selfish Me in a drawer and put Sharing Me on instead. Of course I say “yes dear, we can go visit your family in Ohio … for 10 or our 19 days …” And of course I know that, though he is by no means a mama’s boy and would always put me first if I had a legitimate, actual non-entirely-selfish need, he really does want to see his family. He loves them. He thinks they are super cool. He would spend every single second of every vacation with them if he could. But he doesn't. He lets me choose what we do about 80 percent of the time.

So I tell myself that this is HIS block leave. HE is the one who is going to Afghanistan. And when I go to Afghanistan (which, frankly, will be never) we can do whatever I want for vacation.

Still, that doesn’t sit entirely right. Maybe it’s that Selfish Me doesn’t like her home in the drawer. Maybe it’s that it actually is OUR block leave and I should get as many snuggles and cozy movie nights on our very own couch as I want as I preemptively make up for lost time.

I wish there were actual rules about this. A “do this, not that” sort of list. But there isn’t.

But at SpouseBuzz we love crowd wisdom. We think our readers can make us smarter. And I'm willing to bet that you all have a way of dealing with this that I've yet to contemplate. So tell me: how do you handle predeployment leave?

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