First before I start anything I wanted to clear something up. I write this blog for ANY spouse, male or female. As I write, I tend to refer to husbands, him, his blah blah blah just because I'm writing from my perspective. But if your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, fiancé (you get the picture) is in the military this also applies to you. Just switch the words around to fit your relationship. =)
There was a request put out by a friend and reader to discuss the trials you run into as a young couple in the Army and some of the things we can do to try to keep up the connection. As this is a broad topic, there are many ways that I could take this so I feel that trying to hit it all in one post might be difficult. I'm also going to broaden it a little and say as "couples" in the "military" since I think most of the issues that surface are ones that you can run into during any part of your marriage and in any military group. With the help of my husband, I sat down and made a list of issues that you tend to run into. We came up with a several and so I'm going to address each issue in separate blogs. This way we don't end up with a single blog that goes on forever and ever.
So lets start with the day to day grind of garrison life. I'm having one of those weeks that explain some of trials of this life perfectly. My husband deploys in less than 2 weeks and yet he has missed lunch every day this week and been at work late every night. Today is no better. Not all problems come from being separated for months at a time, though those are the most talked about. There is a lot of stress and trouble the comes from the life of a soldier that is home. In some ways it can be even more infuriating than deployment life. It is when your spouse is home that you expect to see him. However, that isn't always the mindset of the people he may work under. This was a hard lesson that I had to personally learn (still kinda learning). Marrying someone in the military is not like marrying someone who works a 9 to 5 job. On top of being gone for a year or so at times, they also put in a LOT of hours at work. When they are thousands of miles away it's easy to understand why they aren't home and to be patient. That is not so when they are just a few min away and you are unable to see them and they miss lunch...and dinner...and even breakfast sometimes. There are higher ups that don't care and lower downs that just like to cause trouble. Some weeks it can seem like your husband lives at work and you're just a passing thought on his mind now and then.
There is nothing worse than feeling like you come in second to your beloved's job. It's something that we expect but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. The thing to keep in mind is that the job isn't actually more important than you, even though it can really really REALLY feel that way at times. In fact I'm about 99% sure that most of your honeys would much rather be at home with you rather than having a 14 hour work day that consists of listening to people whine and yell at them.
So example time. This week has been hell on my husband and my nerves. We have a problem soldier that once again was causing major issues. He is one of those people that seems to think that the entire world revolves around them and is just blown away when he is told he can't do something because it conflicts with someone else's schedule. Which means, that most of the time, he just does what he wants anyways. You can imagine the trouble that causes with the platoon. My husband just happens to be the unlucky NCO that has him under him. It's been the cause of him missing meals all week. That would be irritating normally but when your less than 2 weeks out from deploying it kind of adds to the stress. I managed to keep my cool though, whined only a little, and threatened the man with bodily harm only a few times. =P But even I have my limit and my fuse is getting shorter and shorter lately. Problems caused by one soldier are always felt by the entire platoon. This week has had everyone on edge and frustrated. Not to mention the days are flying by and bringing us that much closer to a deployment that no one is looking forward to. Our solution was to organize a BBQ at our house in an attempt to lighten spirits and create a bond with the soldiers. This way the wives could get linked up as well, seeing as most of them are all first timers. This is something that the unit encourages all the time. You need friendship between the men desperately for deployments. It's the only way to feel comfortable with trusting those other people with your life. We have a lot of new soldiers who haven't had a chance to get to know anyone yet. But when the time came for the actual get together, someone decided all the NCOs needed to stay late to work for who knows why. Didn't matter that we had guests coming or that one of them needed to pick his kids up because his wife was out of town. Didn't matter than another man had been in a nasty custody battle and finally had his kids for a weekend. No one's life matters in that moment. It's all Army, all the time. Hooah. Get over it or get out is the attitude. We kept pushing the time back until it was obvious that it was just too late. And so we canceled something that we had spent a lot of time and money getting ready and disappointed a whole group of people. I haven't been that angry and crushed at the same time in a long time. I couldn't decide whether I wanted to cry or scream more. Hitting someone probably would have made me feel a little better but not a lot of people tend to offer themselves up for that kind of therapy. Hahaha. Point being there was a lot of emotion coursing through me and when my husband did manage to get home, he could sense it. It wasn't towards him but my emotional turmoil caused immediate tension between us. Part of me despising him for bringing me into a life where stuff like this happened and part of him feeling the guilt of doing just that along with the frustration of being blamed for something he couldn't control. All in all, just a bunch of angry feelings that didn't belong being directed at each other.
This can be a very common "disagreement" that happens in a military home. Though neither person is actually responsible for the issue at hand, we tend to lash out at the people we love because we don't have anywhere else to put that frustration and we know they will forgive us. They love us after all. But that isn't the right answer. So how do we properly work through this kind of situation? How do we deal with the crazy-making? How do we still smile when our love walks in 2 hours late for dinner and the food has become cold? The answers might not be what you want to hear. They are far from easy. They work though, if you are willing to work at it.
Patience. It's not easy to come by and it's the last thing that you want to be told to have but the truth is it plays a major part in dealing with military life. There isn't much you can do as a spouse to change the situations that happen. Its just how things are. You can't make them send your husband home. You can't make them care. You can, however, make the personal choice to take a deep breath when it happens and push forward. Wrangle in your own emotions when your husband does get home. Still meet him at the door with a smile and a kiss. Most likely, after the day he has had, he really needs that. It's ok to feel frustrated and angry, the situation sucks, but be very careful that you are not directing any of those feelings onto your spouse. Make sure he is aware that you don't blame him. He needs your support more than anything when he spends the day being torn down. If you are still fuming when he comes home then the best thing to do is to stay away. Tell him you love him, explain that you are angry and need to cool off, and then go do something that is relaxing for you. Go for a run, take a bubble bath, turn up your music and dance through the house. Do whatever you need to do to lighten your spirit. When you feel better, immediately go back to your spouse and show them affection. Ask them how they are doing. Let them talk if they need to. You had your release from the stress, now it's their turn. Keep in mind though (and my husband agrees with this) that your spouse, no matter how awful of a day they've had, has no right to bring it home and take it out on you. The rules of emotional dumpage goes both ways. If they come stomping through the door yelling about how their dinner better be ready, you need to let them know that you are also angry but trying to react appropriately and you would like them to do the same. Later on, sit down together and discuss what would work best for your family. Make sure there is an open communication about each other needs. Some spouses need time to cool off while others may need you there as soon as they walk through the door to listen to them talk. Only you and your spouse can decide what works best for you. Whatever you decide that is, make sure it is nondestructive towards either person and then make a plan to stick to it no matter what happens.
Be flexible. That is so much easier said then done but it HAS to be done in this life. Go back to my example for a min. So BBQ gets canceled. Everyone is sad and grumpy. I pout a little. Then we decided we weren't going to let the Army win. We called everyone and rescheduled for a few days later since we had the day off. Instant excitedness again. It wasn't our original plan, it made it a little harder to be ready for, but in the end it worked out. Even the rain that poured all day couldn't stop us. We still had a great time, ate some good food, and made some new friends. You have to be willing to look past the ruined now and plan for a better future. It's never a "this way or no way" kind of deal when you are in the military. Or so my husband would say "Remember, only a Sith deals in absolutes."
I want to leave you with the understanding that life in garrison can be just as stressful as deployment life, even though you get to see your husband more often. The only difference is you don't have the distance to "cushion" the blows. Learning to properly communicate with each other is the best thing you can do for your relationship. Learning this early on as a young couple will give you a wonderful head start for your entire life, not just the military part. Now go give your spouse some suga! =)
Keep L i/o ving!