Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and I find this is a perfect time to make sure my connection with my hubby is going strong. In this fast-paced military life, there are plenty of lengthy absences and stressors that can take a toll on our relationships. Our spouses are called upon to do whatever is needed at the drop of a hat, and that can mean that sometimes they leave without a lot of notice. I read an article once where the wife of an officer said that in their two-decade marriage, they had been apart more days than together. That’s crazy!
Marriage is hard. It takes hard work and dedication to keep it together, and even more work to make it great. Kids, jobs, finances, health…all of this can play a significant role in the well-being of your marriage. Now – add the complication of doing it from different continents, and you have some serious hurdles to overcome! Here are some tips for making sure your spark stays strong during a deployment.
- Communication is important. While my husband was recently deployed, we texted daily (except when he was in the field), spoke on the phone a few times a week and video chatted several times a month. I also sent him both hand-written letters and emails. I started keeping a list of things to talk about so that I didn’t forget them when he called. Nothing is worse than feeling like communication is obligatory, so I would try my best to keep it interesting and funny. Occasionally I would have to vent about something or tell him about the broken water heater, but I usually tried to handle that stuff myself and focus our conversations on light-hearted things. My husband is a fixer and nothing stresses him out more than when I have a problem and he can’t do anything about it. I wanted to reduce unnecessary stress for him as best as I could.
- Build more trust. You can never have too much mutual trust in a relationship. I trust my husband to have my back in a disagreement with someone else and to share my burdens. We may let each other down here or there, but above all else we are partners. While he was gone for a year, I trusted that he would continue to love me despite the distance and he trusted me to do the same.
- Nourish your connection. Our love grew stronger during my husband’s deployment. Without the option for physical connection, we talked. A lot. He told me stories that I had never heard in our 12-year marriage. I shared my career plans. I practiced really listening to make him feel valued. I admit that I can sometimes get a bit self-centered. Between my career, kids, housework and everything else going on in my life, I wasn’t always able to give my husband my full attention when he was home. Once he left, I realized how valuable that was and made every effort to fully concentrate on him when he called.
- Keep your romance alive. A lot of this is going to depend on your comfort level but try to make things fun. Think about buying a new outfit for his return or writing an email to express your excitement about having your spouse back in your arms. Without oversharing what you don’t want the world to see or hear about, convey the essence of your desire for a physical connection through phone calls or letters. Be creative, it can be a lot of fun.