To Infinity and Beyond

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4 1/2 years ago, Jason came home from OIF III and I was more in love with him than ever.
As a military wife, we hear it all the time: “deployments will make or break a marriage.” Then, no doubt, we’re regaled with horror stories of cheating spouses, changed locks and growing apart. A year is a long time, and both partners can change a lot in that time. But the question is : how many of us have been “made?” Why is it while people are so quick to scare each other with these tales, those of us whose marriages have been “made” by deployments remain silent? Maybe it’s the guilt that we’ve survived while we’ve watched others crumble by the way-side. With so many who are looking for a way to survive a deployment, our voices should be ringing out with encouragement, not inducing fear.
Well, I can say that our marriage has not only survived two deployments, but we’ve been made stronger by them, and I’m proud of it.
“How many times do you think this is possible?” I asked my husband as we were driving home from an impromptu date night. “How many times can you miss out on a year of our lives before there’s just too much that you’ve missed? How many times can we tear our lives apart and then shove it back together before the pieces no longer fit?”
My wonderful husband squeezed my hand and told me that since it’s true love, and we’re both committed, then we can make it through “infinity times.”
God, I love this man.
This will be Jason’s third deployment. We’re kind of in the middle of the road. We have friends who have never lived through a deployment and we have friends who have survived five or so. But either way, once Jason makes it home next year, and we get ready to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary, he will have missed nearly 1/3 of our marriage.
So how do we separate our lives, both have life-altering experiences and then put it back together again?
Communicate.
Yeah, I know, we all hear it through pre-deployment briefings from a chaplain, or self-help books. But I swear, it’s how we roll. I write Jason every night. As soon as deployment begins, I keep a binder. The first thing I do is number the first page 1-100, and then I begin to fill the dates in when I write a letter, so I know which number to put on the back of Jason’s letter, and he’ll know what order to read them in. We laugh together when it takes letter #35 three weeks to show up, and by then he’s already on to #50. But really, every night. Yup, every night, before I go to bed, or while I’m in bed, I take a few moments and I write down my thoughts for the day. It might just start out as a synopsis of our day here on the homefront, but true to stream of consciousness, everything starts leaking out. In my letters are my hopes, my fears. They contain the things I can’t say outloud but need to. It makes all the difference.
Paper and pen are such simple things. But the moment I open the mailbox and see one of Jason’s letters there, I can’t contain myself. Unless it’s below zero, which living at Fort Drum, it probably will be (a lot), I rip it open right there in the middle of the street. For just those moments, I get to be there with him, and I get to hear all the things he doesn’t say aloud. I can almost smell him, just holding this letter that he held a week or so ago. These letters are another peice of glue which holds us together when he’s gone for so long. We work at it so that when Jason comes home, we’ve really only been separated by distance and not emotions. We’re still partners, even if one of us doesn’t sleep in our bed at night.
We’re at less than a week now. We’ve already made sure that we’re strong, and we’ve talked about the things that will keep us that way. We know that this won’t be our last deployment, but as Jason told me, we’re real, we’re committed, and we can make it again.
So here we go, to infinity and beyond.

2 Comments on “To Infinity and Beyond”

  1. MrsL

    I really love your story and your advise. My husband and I are going through our first deployment together (this is his second since he has been in the Army). I got so terrified of the horror stories of spouses cheating on each other and started having doubts when he would have a bad day or was too tired to really talk. I get over it quickly though. One thing that my husband and I are blessed with is the internet. He is able to have internet for a large portion of his day (except for right now 'cause it dropped GRRR) but we keep our web cams on all day. He sleeps with it on and he always tells me that if I ever need to talk then I just have to wake him. Some wives tell me that we talk too much, but I don't think we do. You see….his ex wife did the worst thing to him his first deployment and so did my ex husband. I think that going through that once has made us aware and stronger now that we are together. Communication is a big key to deployments. Where my dh is at there isn't much to do on their "down time" so we play games online together via skype, and every weekend we have a movie date; where we have our web cams up on half of the computer screen and the movie on the other half. It's just that little connection that we make during those times that makes a big difference. Congrats on the big 10 year. I know that it takes work, and I hope that my dh and I are just as happy and in love on our big 10 as you are. (we are coming up on our 3 year)

  2. Rebecca

    Mrs. L, That's awesome! I think whatever communication you guys deem "enough" is enough. Never let anyone else tell you what your marriage needs. Only you two know that! =)

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