~ Absence makes the heart grow fonder. ~ Unknown…then Eleanor Roosevelt (& a bunch of other people) stole it.
*Cue ominous theme music*
Valentine’s Day approaches. *sigh*
Or “National Singles Awareness Day” as I’ve recently been informed by a good friend of mine. (But that’s a different post.)
My ten year anniversary also lives in the month of love so it sort of makes me all gooey. If you don’t like it…tough. Suck it up or leave. Either way, I’ll still love ya. 🙂
When I think back through the last 10 years of my marriage, I realize that much of it has been long distance. And then I think about how many people, my father included, said we wouldn’t make it. I think my dad actually bet money that The Man & I wouldn’t last six months which kinda makes me want to throw my 10 year anniversary party at his house. With a full guest list & lots of confetti. And I would be sure to leave with his broom & vacuum cleaner that night. 😉
(Okay, I’m kidding, Daddy; I’d never do that to you. I love you! *hugs*) But seriously – in your FACE!
Anyway, to get back on track – I’ve had numerous conversations with friends and family about how The Man and I dealt with separation, deployments, field training, new duty stations, etc. and how we have managed to maintain a successful marriage despite time and distance. Most of the people I talk to say they weren’t cut out for a relationship where one half is almost always absent; that they couldn’t do it. I get it. It’s not the life for everyone. But my answer to how we’ve survived this long is not that we did it “in spite of” being separated. We were able to make it this far because we were separated.
Now before some of you start blabbering about how horrible that is, hear me out. We didn’t like being separated from each other. To tell the truth, most of the time it sucked. If it wasn’t weeks of training, it was 15 month deployments. If it wasn’t a deployment, it was a new duty station to which The Man generally left before we did to get settled into a new unit & I packed up the family & came later. Being apart is hard. It’s strenuous on a relationship & it doesn’t always work out for everyone. A lot depends on who you are and how you handle it and there’s nothing wrong with deciding it’s just not the life for you. Just don’t complain to me about your honey being gone for a single weekend & I won’t have to high five you in the face with a chair, mkay?
To be fair, allow me to point out one thing. All that “love should be easy and natural” crap is…well…crap. It’s not easy. It’s always risky no matter what and it’s always hard at some point or another. Relationships, especially committed ones, are challenging and strenuous no matter where you are or how often you’re together. Whether you spend every second of the day together, only a few hours or you only get two weeks to enjoy each other before one of you has to leave again. It doesn’t really matter; it’s all hard in its own way & each of those scenarios brings with it a different set of challenges.
The Man and I were very young when we got married. I was 18 and he was barely 21. We were completely immature and we both made so many mistakes with each other early on in our marriage. So, The Man joining the Army and us being separated for all those times was absolutely the best thing we ever did for ourselves as a couple and as a family. It gave us a chance to mature, both as a couple and as individuals. The separation gave us time to think. Made us each appreciate the other. We missed each other. That made the time that we did have together all the more meaningful. We really tried to make the most of it.
In doing that, it helped us figure out a lot of things. I discovered a lot about myself that I didn’t know before and so did he. We discovered new things in our relationship. One small, but valuable thing we learned was how to efficiently resolve our arguments. We would start to bicker about something and then one or both of us would realize that we didn’t want to spend our last few days before he left arguing about something stupid so we would either come to a compromise quickly or agree to disagree. When I didn’t know when he would be leaving and how long he would be gone, it was a painful but effective reminder to me not to take him for granted.
I always loved my independence & was very protective of it. I didn’t want anyone to think I needed them for anything. But not having The Man around for long intervals of time forced me to open my eyes to how very dependent on him I was for certain things & how it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Men need to feel needed. After that realization, I tried to let him know as often as I could, in any way I could, how important he was to me. Couples should do that for each other no matter how often or otherwise they see one another, but I think constantly having the threat of separation looming over us really brought out the best in us. It’s a true testament to how strong we are as a couple that we’ve made it this far and it’s something that I’m exceptionally proud of. Even now that he’s retired and I don’t really have to worry about that as much, it’s still a lesson I hold on to. When things get particularly hard for us (& believe me, it’s just as challenging going from barely seeing each other to being together every single day as it is to do the opposite) I just think about all the time we’ve lost and how fortunate I am to be able to have him here with me.
Just to paint a very realistic picture for you – he could have died on any of his deployments. Hell, he could have died on the plane ride over. We could have both died in that accident we had in Germany. So believe me when I say that every single day we get together, whether he is annoying the crap out of me that day or not (& he does :p), is a blessing. I don’t want to take anything for granted. If you have the opportunity to do something now, be with someone you love now…..why wait? We only get so much life given to us. I just don’t see the point in waiting for things & wasting time that you could be enjoying at this very moment.
Patience is a virtue…I get it. And there are lots of things worth waiting for. I just think that we should make the most of the time we have with people that are important to us. I don’t believe that anything worth having is easy or that there is a “right time” or “wrong time” for things to happen. It’s more about the people involved than it is the timing. Most people would say that 18 is way too young to get married and start a family. Generally I would agree with you, but regardless of whether it’s “too young” or not, I was able to do it. And it had nothing to do with my age, but everything to do with who I am as a person, what I believe in and the choices I made. Just because something is challenging isn’t a reason not to do it; it’s merely an opportunity to conquer the odds.
Like the picture (way) above says, “if you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.” ♥
Happy *Almost* Anniversary, Husband. I love you.