Disclaimer: This post may be a tad risque. Read at your own risk (although you know you totally want to read the risqueness now)!
When I first found out my husband was going to leave for a year, I thought about how difficult it would be to raise our two children ALONE during that time. I knew I would miss him, but I was more focused on how our household would function with half of the “keeping it together” piece missing. Then, only after I decided I could handle both kids without him, did I start to really think about how much I would miss him. I would miss the after work kisses, hugs, and “how was your day”. I would miss the bedtime snuggles and the groggy morning smiles. And I would miss the all out fighting that ended in a wonderful make-up session! How was I going to survive a whole year without my other half?
I’ve come up with 7 great ways to keep the romance alive in your relationship while you are separated from each other:
1. Talk as often as possible about your everyday happenings.
I’m not saying call your spouse and give them the play-by-play of the last 24 hours. But, do tell them how your day was, what you did, what’s going on at work, etc. And make sure to ask about their’s. I say this because you don’t want to ever get too disconnected from your spouse. Plus, it gives you a chance to just chat. Sometimes, I find it hard to find stuff to talk about when we are only talking on the phone so it’s helpful to start there and work into a good conversation. And it helps you both still feel supported in whatever you are doing.
2. Be spontaneous and thoughtful.
One of the best things about my relationship, in my opinion, is that I never know what my husband is going to do. He might come home from work randomly with flowers, get me a card after an argument, or pick up some ice cream just because he knows I wanted some the other night. These things, though small, show me how he cares for me. Half the time, I doubt he’ll remember an occasion or things I’ve said I wanted for Christmas but he always comes through and it’s like a pleasant surprise each time. When you are separated, you must continue to do things like this for each other. My husband had a platinum dipped rose sent to me after an argument we had at the start of this deployment. It may seem cheesy, but it was such a sweet gift and the note he wrote along with it just made me remember how much I loved his cheesy romantic side (see number 5). I could tell he put thought into it and really meant it. For Easter, I put together an Easter basket package for him with chocolate and plastic eggs that had little sayings in them. I also sent him pencils and a sketchbook because he used to draw all the time and has mentioned getting back into it a few times. It was something little but I knew he would enjoy it. I think thoughtful random gift giving or random acts of kindness in a relationship go a long way especially when you are away from each other!
3. Use religion (if you are religious) to connect/help you through it
This has literally, hands down been the best thing for me this deployment. I go to church every week and attend a “married” sunday school class and I pray often for my husband and our relationship. I read the bible specifically looking at reading plans about love, marriage, etc. It has really helped me focus on our relationship. I remind myself that God wants what’s best for me and for my husband so I take that into account when things get rough. It also reminds me to be very thankful for what I have and nurture it. This is my religion. Use yours to help you connect to your husband and work through your time apart from him. You will be surprised what it can do for your relationship but also for your outlook on life.
4. Don’t ever end a conversation mad.
I often have to remind myself of this one. I’m a runner. When we fight, I just want to end the conversation and deal with it when we have both calmed down. But when it comes to deployments, sometimes you don’t know how long that will be or even worse (and yes, military wives think this way) if there will be a next time. I would be so mad and upset at myself if something happened to Joseph after we’d argued and left things unresolved. For this reason, I also try to always remember to say “I love you”, too! Don’t get off the phone/Skype/messenger/whatever until you are both civil and have discussed the argument. You don’t have to leave 100% happy. But don’t leave angry, hateful, or cursing. Even if you have to sit in silence for 20 minutes before you finally start to discuss it. Just talk and you will both leave feeling a lot better and you won’t spend a day stewing over an argument, getting angrier and angrier. And, most importantly, don’t forget to say “I LOVE YOU”.
5. Remember why you fell in love
A deployment can be VERY difficult on a relationship. Even the most seasoned couple can have issues during them. When things get rough and maybe you want to wring your spouses neck, just remember why you married them. Remember all the wonderful things that make you love them. I know this can be hard but DO IT. Sometimes, you need a simple reminder to keep your head together.
6. Don’t drop your sexy time
Now, let me preface this by saying– I believe each couple will come up with ways to keep this part of their relationship going and I don’t believe any one way is better than any other. In our relationship, Skype is a very good friend. (I’m saying a quiet prayer that my parents, grandparents, etc don’t read this post right about now.) Even though you are away from each other, this is a very necessary part of a relationship. Don’t let it go by the way-side because you can’t physically be with each other. Do what you feel comfortable with. If you have phone access, you can totally pull a verbal sexy-time. Or maybe you are more of a visual person– Skype is wonderful for this! Maybe you are more of a classy broad and want to have some tasteful photos taken to send to your significant other. There are a lot of options so make sure to utilize some of them and it will keep you both (mainly your husband) very happy!!
7. Don’t expect things to be easy when they return home.
I read an article recently from Military One-Source that said give your spouse a week per each month of deployment for reintegration. It totally caught me off guard and I was like “Woah, what! He better be changing diapers as soon as he walks in the house”. But seriously, this is so true. I remember the arguing that came with my husband’s last deployment. When he returned home, Isla would not let him put her to bed, she wasn’t used to it and had gotten comfortable with me. This was annoying to me because why the heck couldn’t he get her to sleep if I could and frustrating to him because why the heck couldn’t he get her to sleep if I could. But, truly… it took time for us to get back in the swing of things. I was used to doing everything alone and part of me wanted him to just come in and start doing everything and the other part of me wanted to just continue doing things with the flow I had set-up. Whether your spouse is home for a short visit or for good, don’t expect things to just pick up where they left off. They will NOT and if you don’t expect them to, you won’t want to kill each other during that time when they return and things are supposed to be happy. Expect to argue, get frustrated, and have to re-train your spouse in how you’ve been doing things since they’ve been gone. I promise you, things will go much smoother if you have the right expectations.