We've all heard the jokes about the military being our dear spouse's mistress, or perhaps the military is actually the spouse and we're just the mistress. It is funny because it hits so close to home. As my husband leaves again, I find myself thinking about how hard it is for me when he is not around. Not hard in the usual, "I'm the only parent and Murphy has come to visit and I'm worried about him" sort of way. I can handle all that with my eyes closed. What I don't handle well is this ridiculous insecurity thing that requires regular doses of reassurance, and it is pretty darn hard for my poor husband to be constantly reinforcing my security if he is out keeping the world safe for democracy.
Intellectually, I am way past this. I know that we have a great marriage, and even if we didn't, me being freako isn't going to make it better. I know that he needs to be focused on his work. I want him to be focused on his work - we've got people in dangerous places out there. It is a waste of my energy to let this bother me. It is not good for me, or for him, or for the rest of my family.
Unfortunately, my heart doesn't listen to my brain very often. My heart says, "hey, come home and look thrilled to see me." Or, "I want more emails, preferably ones that say wonderful things about how much you love me." Or maybe, "somehow promise me that everything will be great forever and ever."
I try to keep myself in line, but sometimes I don't do so well. One day last deployment, I was unloading on my mother. "I'm just afraid that something awful is going to happen, that the kids are all going to grow up to be delinquents, and we'll be broke and homeless, and that DH isn't going to love me anymore." She listened very patiently, then burst out laughing. Oddly, this was comforting. If my mother thinks that my fears are absurd, then maybe I should think that they are absurd as well.
I'm pretty sure that I am not the only milspouse who finds that their insecurities go into overdrive when their spouse is away. Marriages need to be fed, and email and Skype aren't really the best food for a relationship. And instead of the real food of togetherness, you're stuck filling up on distance and stress.
So, how, exactly, do you get your heart to stop wigging out and let your brain be in charge? For me, accomplishing things feels good. I like to keep my house tidy, and get some exercise, eat well, and get some sleep. Keeping realistic expectations is crucial: I'm not going to have contact every day. If I expect to, I am going to be pretty darn unhappy. It is also important that I remember that I can not be the center of my husband's attention every moment of our lives. Silly, self-centered girl!
Tell me I'm not alone, then tell me how you cope!
photo by ffg