It’s not that any military spouse actually looks forward to a deployment the same way we count down to homecoming, but there are certainly positives to the distance that tend to get buried underneath the negative connotations of long-distance love.
Below are 10 aspects that I whole-heartedly appreciate when my husband deploys, which I’ve decided to publicly share in the chance it may bring a smile or boost of strength to anyone currently counting down their spouse’s safe return.
- You grow stronger: While at first you may not feel strong as you re-adjust to the feelings of being alone, in time, you will wake up and realize that you are much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Whether it’s physical – carrying all the grocery bags in the house by yourself – or emotional – realizing that your marriage can indeed survive the miles without needing daily reassurance, by the time your loved one returns you will have a newfound confidence.
- You renew old passions and uncover new ones: It is inevitable that spending every day together as one brings greater focus on shared responsibilities and shared hobbies. During deployment, however, you have more creative freedom to spend spare time however your heart desires, and tapping into our individualism only makes us more attractive as partners.
- Your skill set broadens: Whenever my spouse is deployed, everything seems to malfunction. Whether it’s a car not starting up, our dog getting seriously sick, or a plumbing issue, you learn to fill any and all roles needed to run a household rather than splitting the roles you previously shared. And if children are in the picture, you take on single-parenting while also serving as a “secretary” for your deployed partner’s bills and errands that get left behind.
- Your relationship hits refresh: The downfall of a daily routine is that it lends itself to exactly that – routine. When things become so predictable and structured in a marriage, spontaneity can fade away. But spontaneity is so crucial because it keeps us dating our loved ones. A deployment throws our daily routines upside down, taking couples back to square one. You miss each other, and it makes you start dreaming and planning for your future rather than getting hung up on daily nuances like whose turn it is to do the dishes.
- You remember why you fell in love: When you never have space as a couple, it can be just as damaging as having too much space. Being around each other on the daily means you learn all sorts of flaws about one another. Maybe you are bothered by how loud your partner snores, and it starts to dampen the feelings of acceptance that you once had for each other. Having space allows this appreciation to grow back, as you realize you’d rather deal with the snoring than the silence at night.
- The post office is no longer a place of doom: Forget bills and spam, finding letters from your spouse turns the post office from gloom to glory. And yes, snail mail still exists between military couples despite the perks of technology. Skype is not your one-stop solution to communicating overseas. From timezone differences making it hard to catch each other to the painfully slow Internet connections, I have found snail mail to be one of the most reliable ways of staying close across the miles.
- The little things once again become the big things: A tangent to #6, suddenly getting an old-fashioned letter is all you need to make your whole week. Deployments mean our spouses miss holidays, birthdays, and other occasions. It reminds us that true love doesn’t need constant attention, instant gratification or materialistic reminders to thrive; most of the time, love can thrive just fine on simple gestures of support.
- Ahh, the butterflies return: You’ve gained strength, found new hobbies and adjusted to a new routine. Suddenly homecoming is around the corner, and you feel like a teenager all over again. This is the fun part. Who doesn’t miss that young love feeling from time to time? The reunion is blissful (even though the next few weeks will be stressful as two once again become one).
- Your learn to value the concept of time before it’s too late: It’s difficult to find something positive in how much time apart you and your loved one will face in the military, sometimes adding up to more time apart than actually together. This can be a gloomy thought. But, if there’s one positive from this, it’s that you quickly learn not to take time for granted, making for a beautiful life with no regrets.
- Trust becomes a must: Any healthy relationship is dependent upon mutual trust, but this becomes even more crucial when it must survive across the miles. Without trust, deployment will be difficult and could break your relationship; it’s a vulnerability in all of us, military or not. The plus side? Long distance forces you to put your relationship’s trust to the test, but it’s an investment that can in turn create an unbreakable bond. This doesn’t mean that the strongest couple is the flawless couple. Conquering challenges together, learning how to communicate and when to forgive, comprise the real recipe for trust.