We are coming to the end of a deployment. In about a month, my other half can come home and this craziness will end.
I knew what I was signing up for when I married Peter. I knew that the military life would make so many big choices for us, like where we live and how often we would actually see one another. I knew that his service would need to come before first soccer games, first steps, anniversaries, and birthdays.
Though I knew these things in my head, it can often be hard to apply them to the heart.
Long days of single parenthood, doing all the bills, taking care of all house and car maintenance, etc. are nothing compared to the waiting game, the concerns for safety, and the disquieted soul.
This deployment has been by far the easiest in so many ways. We were blessed enough to be able to go see Peter mid-tour in Germany. Not many get this lucky.
But six months apart is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
It’s a lot of hard work.
It’s wondering if they still find you attractive.
It’s trying to communicate with one another with only 5 minutes to talk.
It’s keeping things spicy when all you really want to do is cry because you are overwhelmed and exhausted.
It’s trying to express struggles, ideas, and thoughts through only text or email.
It’s tackling the challenges of doing it on your own, but still trying to include the other. It’s going days or even weeks without hearing a word.
All of these things, and so much more, weave this seemingly impossible labyrinth that we must maneuver through and somehow come out OK.
We are not perfect at this.
We have fought, went silent, and hurt one another innumerable times. But this is real. This is life. And this is marriage.
How to Help Your Marriage in a Deployment
1. Be Patient
You know very well that relationships are not made in one day, especially those as complex as marriage. In fact, we are always changing and adjusting to what life throws at us. But since we are not with one another during these times of separation, we need to be more patient in waiting for one another to respond, to answer, or to comment.
I cannot tell you how many times I made up something in my head, thinking I KNEW just why he wasn’t answering my questions, when all that was hindering him was a work schedule, internet connection, or pure exhaustion.
2. Be Silly
There is way too much seriousness in the military. And rightfully so. These men and women are oft-times risking their very lives to serve this country and the stress can be very heavy to bear. There’s a time and place for all this structure, so sometimes, we both just need to laugh it off. I have sent so many hysterical pictures and stories that only he would find amusing, just to get a smile from him. And honestly, it de-stresses me too. I need to laugh when I am elbow deep in frozen pipes, barfing kids, 3 hours of sleep, and no lie, there was a story involving a Lego going somewhere it should not have been.
3. Turn up the heat
Cover you eyes and ears, little ones, because it’s about to get adult in here. When you go months and months without sex when you are used to months and months with it, well, let’s just say, you go a little kooky. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, sex is a great natural relaxer. Plus, it’s God’s design to keeping a couple connected and in tune. So what on earth are we supposed to do when there’s minimal options?
You get creative.
Lord help us if anyone saw our texts. (Don’t judge. Lots of you get naughty with the written word, too.)
Keeping things spicy is absolutely key in helping us both remember that we are still wanted, still available, and looking forward to the reunion.
I used to be a little more G-rated in my younger years. I thought it was not lady-like to send such things. But you know what, a real woman loves her man. And a real woman lets him know that she loves every bit of him, including mind, soul, AND body.
4. Pray for one another
All things will fall into place when our first response is to go to God to work things out. It is true that God gave us a free will, therefore He can not control our responses and choices, but the reality is, He created our spouses and is cheering for our marriages to work out. He wants not only for us to be happy, but in the end, the true purpose of marriage is to bring honor and glory to Him. What is more glorifying to God than to see a married couple make it through hardships and time? It is a hard thing to do now-a-days. There is much more temptation and complications coming at us that our parents didn’t even face.
When we go to the Keeper of the stars and ask Him to help protect one another and our marriage, than we have a fighting chance to make it through a deployment, a financial catastrophe, a loss, or an infidelity.
I realize that the majority of people who will read this don’t go through long-term separation like a deployment, but I think we can all benefit from these simple truths.
But to my fellow military spouses, I see you over there.
You clutch your phone in your hands, not because you are addicted to Facebook or don’t want to deal with your kids, but because you are waiting to hear that they made it there safely.
I see you over there.
Sitting in your car, engine running, head on the steering wheel. You don’t need me to fix it. You just need to breath for a moment and then you will pick up the pieces.
I see you over there.
Alone in the pew. Tears in your eyes. This is the first time this week you have had a moment to take it all in and listen to Jesus. Meet with Him.
I see you over there.
Smiling with your kids. Running around and playing tag.
You are Mom and Dad and you are doing an amazing job at it. The kids see it too. And they love you for it.
To you I say, it will soon be over. You will soon be together again and will pick up where you left off. You will make it through, because you are not doing this alone. You have one another. You have others like you. You have God. (And of course, there’s always coffee. ;))