I began writing this post as a status update on my Living a Warrior Life Facebook page…but then realized it was getting so long, I might as well make it a blog post! I’m actually starting to live up to my resolve of blogging more. Join me as I take you on a journey into my heart.
Today I took myself out to eat for dinner. There was a little bit of a wait so I took a buzzer thingy and sat on a couch in the waiting area. A couple sat down next to me, and out of the corner of my eye I watched as she played a game on her phone and he watched the TV. They weren’t interacting at all. Wow, how shallow! She is just sitting there on her phone not even paying attention to him. And he’s just staring at the TV. I’d never act like that. (Before I got up, she put his hand on his leg and they talked a little.)
But as soon as I thought my judgments, I realized: how many times have I actually done that to my own husband? I don’t play games on my phone, but how many times have we been out for dinner and I am scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest? Or maybe I’m texting people about doTERRA stuff, trying to get a sale or answer questions from my business builders? And I totally missed out on the moment, even if it was just quietly sitting together, holding hands, and people watching together.
You don’t realize how selfish you are until you’re apart, especially when you’ve been apart for a significant amount of time. You start judging other couples for acting apathetic toward each other, but then realize that you have frequently done the same thing in the past. Apathy can set in when things get comfortable. You think that you’ll always have tomorrow to have quality time together, or to do a random act of kindness, or to say I appreciate and love you. But the truth is that we aren’t promised tomorrow. We aren’t promised that we’ll wake up next to our spouse each morning.
Deployment brings out these things. Your only communication is virtually. Even though we have so many modes of communicating these days, like Skype, FaceTime, email, and Facebook Messenger, it’s just not the same as in-person conversations. You savor each moment you have “together.” You look forward to seeing that “little green dot” as I wrote the other day. Even just a quick exchange to let each other know things are going okay is enough to make your journal entry for the day. You don’t take anything for granted.
Yet how often do we treat each other like that when we’re in our comfortable routine, when our servicemember is home? Not very often. When we’re in our day-to-day routine, it’s easy to get annoyed with each other over stupid crap. We wives complain to our girlfriends about how our husbands don’t clean up their side of the bathroom, how we keep tripping over his combat boots because he doesn’t put them away, that he “never” helps out with the dog/kids, how crabby he is after a long day at work, or that he just doesn’t understand our needs and feelings. Instead of journaling about the great (or even mundane) details of your day together, the only time you journal is when you’re mad or upset at him.
If you’re going through a deployment, oh how you wish you had combat boots to trip over! You would be more than happy to wash his stinky, sweaty uniform on short notice. You wish that he was here so you could get into a pointless argument. Heck, you even wish that you could get woken in the middle of the night by his chainsaw snoring!
Mark and I did get really comfortable with life together. He came back from his second deployment two months before we got married. He didn’t deploy again till almost three years later. In military speak, three years can feel like a lifetime!! And after three years, that deployment itch has usually set in for the combat veteran.
Maybe that’s why adjusting to this deployment seemed like the hardest. Other than a few short separations (the longest being five months), we had a pretty stable life together. Now, I’m realizing everything that I could’ve done better over those three years. I ask myself if I said “I love you” enough, or if I was supportive enough when he was going through a tough time, or if I gave him enough space when he needed it. Did I take enough time to appreciate him? There have definitely been times where I thought of myself more than him. Yet now that we’ve been apart for almost half the year, I’m wishing I had the chance to do more.
I know we’re not supposed to live with regrets, but what I do have is resolve to be a better wife in the future. I know when he first comes back it’ll be honeymoon bliss, but after awhile that comfortable feeling will sink in again. And along with that, possible reintegration, PTSD issues. What I don’t want to sink in is apathy or resentment. Deployment makes you resolve to not let those things happen again, because life so often seems to teeter on the edge in a combat zone. You make the most of your conversations because honestly? You worry in the back of your head that this one could be the last.
We don’t think that way in our “normal” life, and we probably shouldn’t run around worrying that our spouse is going to die tomorrow. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be present in the moment. We need to put down our phones, set aside our apathy, work on our communication and appreciation skills, and stop taking each other for granted. It’s not easy to do all the time, and certainly we can’t be perfect at it. But just a little more attention to the small things and precious moments is what makes all the difference.