March 29, 2010
The 'G' word. We all know it well...Goodbye. It is one that is repeated over and over as a military wife. Deployment goodbyes are the most awful, gut-wrenching moments I have ever experienced in my life. I knew it was going to be a long time before I would see him again and that we both would go through a lot while we were separated. I have learned that goodbye is goodbye no matter what though, and that it's not fun to be separated from your spouse no matter how long the length of time is.
This life of goodbyes is what we agreed to and signed up for when we said those beautiful wedding vows. Through marrying a man in uniform we implicitly accepted the "moments apart" just as much as we did the "Til death do us part."
Since there really is no way around goodbye, we learn that the other option is to just plow straight through it. You can't change the fact that your husband will be gone, so you learn how to manage a relationship lived apart where "Goodbye" is just as likely to be said between the two of you as "What's for dinner?".
You learn to appreciate the moments that you do get together. When they leave you learn how to stay connected despite the distance. I began making lists of what I wanted to talk about when he called because I would inevitably forget when I had him on the phone. My cell phone became a treasured possession and would not leave my side.
As vital as phones are when your husband is gone, we always had a love-hate relationship with them. When Lane was on a recent 2-week trip we were reminded of this fact. 2 days before he was supposed to come home, Lane called around 10:00 pm to check in for the day. Here is a snapshot of how the conversation went:
Me: What did you guys do today?
L: We went to a range.
A few seconds of silence.
Me: Did you have any cool conversations with the guys you were with?
L: Not really.
I knew that the phone was our only connector right then and wanted to take full advantage of the few times I could talk with him, but he didn't seem to be into the conversation. Finally:
L: How was your day?
Me: Good. I'm just hanging out reading my book and getting ready for bed.
L: Cool. Well, I'm going to take off.
L: What do you mean?
Me: of all, I want to hear how you're doing, not just what you did. Second of all, I want you to ask me questions about how I'm doing too!
L: Okay... tell me about the book you're reading.
Me: Ugh. Lane! I don't want you to ask me questions just because I tell you to! I want you to ask me questions because you genuinely want to hear how I'm doing!
And on and on it went; it was a bit ridiculous. Finally we stopped going in circles and the conversation was able to end on a good note. It was awful though, it honestly felt like a deployment conversation when you really don't want to talk on the phone because it just reminds you that you're separated. Miscommunications can become common when you must rely on the phone but all you want is to be able to be together again and talk face-to-face.
Even if we don't love talking on the phone, we have learned how to interact through different forms of communication. Even if you don't love being separated for periods of time, you learn how to stay connected despite the distance. You learn how to flirt, argue, and share stories over the phone. You learn that a few moments of silence are okay and you don't have to force filling the quiet.
We know that we can't just hit the 'pause' button on our marriage when he leaves. Life continues, and our relationship now uses cell phones, e-mail, and care packages to replace hand-holding and eye contact.
It's a different way of interacting, but one that still has purpose and value in our marriage. We still have hiccups, like our recent phone-conversation fall-out, but we don't let that derail us. Goodbye might be a common word in our marriage, but we don't let it define our marriage. What defines us is much bigger than having to live apart every now and then. It is a knowledge that this isn't all there is, a shared devotion to each other, and an understanding that our love can get us through anything. It takes work and intentionality, but we know we can get through it all.
Even the dreaded G word.
Friday, April 23, 2010 3:40 PM
The conversation between her and her husband sounds EXACTLY like mine!! I agree with her though.
Monday, June 07, 2010 12:38 PM
oh, how well i can relate! he left in may, it's my first deployment, and i'm always happy to hear that the way things are going (especially when they're not going as i'd like them too) is perfectly normal and many couples have to deal with these things. that way i don't worry about it too much. so thanks!
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