“Breathe In; Breathe Out”

Good news.  My husband and I have broken the communication barrier we had built up between each other, adding to the tension of our everyday lives, and how we function together.

Admittedly, it was difficult to determine what was appropriate to discuss with him – with anyone.  My concern was adding to his stress level with the upcoming deployment.  I didn’t want to make him more stressed, but I needed to share with him my thoughts, my needs.  And I needed to hear from him, because I had no idea what was going through his mind.  I could only see him shutting down, getting distant, carrying his emotional load alone, and I could see him suffocating under the pressure of it all.  As he carried his stress, and attempted to do what he could to mediate my unspoken stress and worries.

When your married, when you love someone, you don’t have to say anything to know something is wrong.  You pick up on body language, what goes unsaid, the uncomfortable silence, the timid touch.

We finally talked.  Really TALKED.  And the outcome, has been marvelous.  We are much more fluid as a couple, able to say and admit what needs to be addressed, understand it, and accept it.  I have moved past denial.

We both know deployment is going to happen.  It’s a truth.  But it’s one neither one of us want to admit to each other, much less what we feel about it.  What we fear.  And all these thoughts and emotions going unsaid, going ignored, trying to deny they exist, trying to deny the reality of our lives, was creating a schism between us, a distancing gap.  I fear that if this pattern continued, any possible outcome would mean the end of the relationship with have with each other.

One possibility, we struggle through the time we have together, deny ourselves, and upon the day he leaves, everything comes out.  Making a day that’s plagued by sadness one filled with anger, hostility, and even more fear that all the things left unsaid have to be exposed and resolved in a matter of minutes.  When we should be enjoying each other before we say good-bye, when we have our last embrace, filling the sadness with fond memories and trying to make the best of a bad situation.

Another, is we forget who we are together, become so distant that although sad, deployment day becomes like any other day, and we don’t take advantage of our last day together, don’t hold onto the moment.  And his return becomes that much more of a struggle, that he returns and we’re both filled with resentment for what wasn’t addressed, what couldn’t be said.

Ultimately, I fear that not sharing, not accepting, would lead to our downfall as a couple, that we would be like many couples and families who cannot survive a deployment.  And that is the saddest thing to me, to lose, in one way or another, the love of my life, the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with.  The one person who, by choice, is my everything.

Since addressing our fears, admitting what we wanted to share but felt scared to for the other’s sake, we have become that much stronger together, as a couple, as a unit, as husband and wife.  We’re able to admit, understand, and accept the realities of our situation, of how we are both dealing, and are able to support each other.  We have been able to move from functioning awkwardly and rigidly with each other, to being much more fluid together; to be able to function like we should, like we did before the Army became our life.

One thing my husband admitted to me, why he wasn’t sharing his concerns with me, was that he felt this was his choice for his life, and he did not want to burden me with everything he was feeling and dealing with.  This is true, it was his choice to enlist.  But how can I let him believe he should be carrying this burden alone?  I’m his wife.  I, too, made a choice.  We were married after he enlisted.  It was my choice to want to be with him, to join him in this life, to be there and support him always.  I could have said “No”, if I didn’t want to be a part of this.  I wasn’t forced into this relationship, into this marriage.  I love him, I want to be a part of his life, and help and support him wherever possible.  That is my role as a wife, that is how a marriage should work.  You become a unit, two working as one.  And we were not working together.  We were trying to protect each other, which in turn only separates you.

In my opinion, what makes a couple a great couple, or at least one quality that makes a couple a great couple, is the ability to work through adversity together, to be able to talk with each other about what’s tearing you up inside, and support each other.  It’s like the interlocking-fingers analogy I used in a previous post.  You’re constantly supporting each other, which makes you as an individual stronger, which makes your relationship stronger.  What do you have if you don’t have trust, understanding, support, and confidence in the person you married?  In your life partner?

Since being able to admit my biggest fear surrounding this deployment with my husband, since being able to admit it to myself, to him, and for him to understand it, accept it, and know we really can’t DO anything about it, we have released some of the tension surrounding us, and have become more relaxed and happier.  Unspoken, it was a fear between us both that we were kept in denial on.  That it’s not OK to admit it, accept it, and move on from it.  We were stuck in an uncomfortable place.  But now, we have moved on, we are in a better place for it, and are better able to deal with the situation and accept things as they come.

I think it’s normal to think, amidst the stress of deployment, to ignore everything the best we can, and think we can deal with all the negative emotions, thoughts, and feelings, later.  To think we can handle what needs to be handled now, and just deal with everything else once he deploys.  But reality doesn’t work that way.  You never know if there will be a tomorrow.  When that day comes that he gets on the bus, or on the plane, when you say “good-bye” and aren’t sure when you’ll see him again, if you’ll see him again, you need to think about what’s best for both of you in the long run.  Do you want to be separated with built up fears, emotions, and resentments that should have been addressed?  If there’s a chance you may never be able to resolve any of them?

I’m not suggesting people should feel forced to discuss something they might not want to discuss, but you should always feel like you can talk to your partner about anything if you WANT to, no matter how uncomfortable or strained the topic is.

I chose my husband, we chose to experience this life together, and I will always love and support him not matter what.   I hope that all military couples, and even non-military couples, are able to experience each other on the same level.  There truly is nothing more satisfying (perhaps pre-children), but nothing more satisfying than knowing you have made a difference in your spouse’s life, that your relationship can be completely fluid.

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