Dear Ms. Vicki,
My wife and I are at month five of a six-month deployment. All together, I feel we have had about an hour's worth of communication during this whole deployment and that makes me feel really alone.
We've been married for almost 25 years and, while I have dealt with this without compromising our vows, I feel she could make herself more open to having the conversations we need for our relationship.
Last night, I talked with her on the phone and we talked mainly about what we will do after I come home. She said that she wanted to go away by herself while I stayed home and took care of the house. My initial reaction wasn't positive, and she stated that I didn't understand. She said that taking care of house and home is taxing and she needs to get away from it.
I am having trouble relating to what she is talking about because it feels like she needs a break from me. I haven't been there for six months and she wants more. I'm not saying that I have it bad -- I have an indoor job in a hot environment. I know what it is like to work outdoors, so I can't complain. But I am bugged about her wanting an escape without me. What am I missing?
Sincerely, Alone Again
Thank you so much for reading the column and for writing me. You bring up some very important concerns about deployment, reintegration and maintaining intimacy with your spouse across the miles.
Your wife shouldn't lose sight of the fact that this deployment has been tough on you. You may be in a comfortable setting but it's not home, and you are away from your family and things that are familiar. Moreover, you are in an environment where anything can happen at any moment.
Now you are ready to come home and be in her arms again, right? You want some family time and some couple time -- and here she is saying that she needs a break.
Your wife has been stressed out by her increased roles and responsibilities. Yes, she can't wait to see you, but she wants to hand the reins over to you when you get home. She needs a "me retreat."
I definitely understand what you are saying, but being a wife who has endured deployments and many military schools and trainings, I can understand what your wife is saying, too.
Please don't take what she is saying as a sign that you don't matter. I think you should encourage her to get away for a few days, but I also think you should do some advance planning for a couple's vacation, too. You both need to spend some time together without other family members and friends to restore the romance and intimacy between the two of you.
I hope this helps. Keep in touch and safe travels on your way home.
Sincerely, Ms. Vicki