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From the MailBag: Strained Phone Calls

Phone calls from the front lines to the homefront can sometimes be stressful. When my husband was in Afghanistan, I remember a particularly tough phone conversation. I was dealing with a housing emergency and had mentioned it previously. I also mentioned that I was handling it, but during the call I felt that my husband was trying to micromanage the situation, and I didn't appreciate it. Phone calls for us were rare and precious so I didn't want to spend our limited time rehashing an incident which was being dealt with. Immediately upon hanging up, I wanted a do-over.

A reader sends this question:

I am the girlfriend of a U.S.Marine who is currently deployed. This is his second deployment, but my first. I keep busy and try to always be positive and happy when he calls but as we get further into his deployment i find it so hard to put on this pretense. I am a teacher so I have to smile even when I am not smiling inside and I have to keep going even when I want to wear his shirt turn out the light and not leave my room. I miss him so much it many times makes it hard to find words when he is able to call. I worry all night and most of the day and it seems lately he is in an irritated mood. I cant seem to say the right things or ask the right questions when we talk. We end our calls upset and irritated. Lately, he seems to be so bipolar. He can start off happy and go to angry and irritated in seconds. He takes innocent questions as accusations. And gets so agitated if I misinterpret something he says. Is this normal? How do you deal with such emotions from your deployed mate without adding to the problem?
The usual caveat applies here. We know nothing of G and her boyfriend's relationship, but I think most of us can relate to her question. Life happens. Although we want to keep our spirits up, and those of our service member, emotions run high on both sides and sometimes it's hard to suppress them. Our spouses are often stressed and strained and it's understandable that irritation can creep in on occasion. Further, our partners know we're on top of things, but they also want to feel that they can contribute, even from thousands of miles away. So during those inquisitive, "are you doing this," "did you do that" types of calls (like the one I had with my husband), I think often it's their way of feeling like they're assisting. Being patient is hard. It really is. But with military life, it's as valuable as gold and will serve you well. And believe me, it's easier said than done. Says the most impatient gal in the world....

Any advice or stories you could share about phone calls from downrange?

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