Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Finding Peace with Our LDmR

One of my main goals as part of my Weekly Wishes, was to be more at peace with this whole Long Distance (Military) Relationship thing. Until we hit the month marker it did not seem like such a big deal.  I mean we had just come off BCT and AIT, so a month compared to six was no biggie.  But then we both seemed to slam into the big brick wall of reality at the same time, and started getting both homesick/emotional about the separation.

As you know, FM and I made the decision to be married quickly before he was sent overseas, and for me to stay here in the US, making this year truly a “hardship tour.” (If you don’t know, read up on it here, and then head back!) Sure, it was our choice, but when considering adding another year to his required time, and my being forced to move to a country where I probably would not find a job or be otherwise useful, this was just the right option for us.  Although, that doesn’t make it much easier. 

In his first month there we have been adjusting to things fairly well, and have begun to figure out how we are going to manage being apart for a year. We’ve even created a semi-schedule, and I feel like that’s something that could prove useful to others who may be thinking about making the same decision, or even for those choosing to go along for the two year ride, that are nervous about leaving friends and family behind. 

Here’s what we have done so far to cope with not only being apart, but living on different sides of the planet with a 13 hour time difference and completely separate commitments:

Schedule a weekly date
We try to make sure we don’t miss our weekly dates with each other.  Because I’m working full-time now, and he is obviously also, we have to squeeze in chat time before or after work, which is not always easy.  For the most part, we look at our week ahead, and see which day is better to plan a “date,” which of course is held via Skype. Typically it’s a Friday or Saturday night here, so Saturday or Sunday morning/afternoon there.   Then we know that time is blocked off for the evening, and we aren’t going to be forced to get up early the next morning, so we can chat longer without concerns.

Get a free texting program
International calls and texts are expensive. And putting a plan on your American phone is probably not worth it when you can get a brand new device and plan overseas cheaper than we offer here.  Just have your solider/loved one download a free texting app before they leave (we like textfree).  You can use the service anywhere you pick up wi-fi, and send SMS and MMS texts like you would anyone in the States.  The number you’re assigned (or choose) is usually the same area code as your current phone too.  It has made not talking every day a lot more bearable (no pun intended) when I know he’s at least reachable by text, and I can still send him pictures about my day (as can he).

Find something you can share about your relationship
When we first learned about FM’s duty station, I began doing what I do best; researching like a maniac, and thinking about ways to stay as connected as we can with a few oceans between us.  I stumbled upon a blogger who wrote an article about something she and her husband frequently did when he was on the road a lot.  They picked up a couple copies of a book “What I Love About You” and they filled it out, and when he came home, they shared their answers with one another.  I thought it was sweet (even if a bit cheesy) but figured it might be a nice idea for FM and myself to try out.  I hopped on Amazon, bought two copies with a couple of clicks, and they were at my door days later.

Buy it here.
Some of the questions are basic like “how did you meet,” “what was your favorite date,” and some are more thought provoking and personal.  I bought us two leather journals to write the answers in (the lines the book are sort of small, and I thought they’d be a nice bookshelf keepsake someday) and gave FM a set before he left.  I write answers to a few questions when I’m feeling like I’m missing him a little too much, and it helps in feeling more connected, even when he’s not around.

Don’t dwell
We are forever reminding each other that we promised not to say “I miss you” every day, or even every week for that matter.  It’s just not constructive to our overall marital health.  We know we miss each other, that’s pretty evident, so pointing it out really only rubs salt in that wound. I like my fair share of sodium but I’d rather it be on some delicious kettle chips instead!  I mean it’s not like we’re made of stone, we say it when we’re really feeling it, but we don’t use it as filler for conversation or as casually as we once might have.

Pick each other up when you fall
You’re bound to stumble every now and again. Of course we find ourselves getting melancholy here and there, but we know when one slips off the edge, the other needs to latch on the carabineer and pull up.  It’s not always easy, but taking turns at being the strong one makes it a little less difficult, and at least helps in making sure you don’t both have a breakdown and end up in the corner sobbing, downing an entire gallon of Friendly’s Pistachio ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles while watching P.S. I Love You.  It’s nice to know you have each other’s backs, no matter the distance, and it’s a trait you can carry through to when you’re finally reunited (and it feels so good; couldn’t help myself!).

Remember it’s only temporary
Finally, keep in mind, no matter how long the tour/deployment is, it’s only temporary.  They will come home, and you will be back together again.  Forget that they may be sent away, or you might be forced to move, or whatever comes after they return home.  Just remember every day is closer to the return time (not necessarily a certain date, because we all know the chances of that not happening).  Get yourself a fancy calendar with some puppies in baskets, bears that go shopping, or beautiful foreign landscapes and keep ticking off those days.  You’ll see time goes a ton faster when you look back on everything you’ve already been through, and how much time there really is left to worry about.  I still can’t believe that it’s been seven months since FM left for BCT.  And look, we’re already though BCT, AIT, and a month.5 of this yearlong tour.  Time just flew by!

I’m sure these are not inclusive, and by no means are they the end all to keeping your relationship together.  I’m sure by the end of this year we’ll have a ton of other tricks up our sleeves, actually, by next month we’ll probably have double what we do now.

Just stay calm. Stay open. Stay dedicated. And you’ll stay connected!

How do you stay connected to your solider/friends/family
while they’re on tour or deployed? 

Share your tips!

And today I must add a GIANT THANK YOU to all of our men and woman in all uniforms serving this country to keep us safe and ward off terrorism.  Today, and everyday, THANK YOU! 

Try to have a great day all. Heads held high!

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