The Boys Are Deployed

bootsonbedI don’t want my husband to deploy. I want my husband to deploy. My husband is about to deploy. His battalion has been gone for a while now and he will be joining them soon.
Am I sad? Not on the outside- or the inside really. In my brain, it’s a sad situation; in my mind, there is no use in crying about it.
I have been trying to articulate my feelings on this for weeks because they are complex. Feelings about being away from my spouse are the simplest. Feelings of not wanting him to stay are hardest to express.
When my husband leaves, it will just be me, endlessly taking calls, not cleaning up after myself, doing hobbies. I am hundreds of miles from friends and family with no vacation days left. I’ve tried to make new friends, but no one is ever close enough. It will be lonely.
On the other hand, I have it better than the other ladies. I don’t have kids. I’m older and have actually lived on my own in a city away from home. I am highly capable of reaching out to others. I’m equipped for this. For that reason, it is hard for me to feel sorry for myself when dozens of other women are enduring this same thing with a fifth of the survival skills. I’ll be alright. I’ll write more, eat better, and save money. I have no doubt I will find something to do with myself.

My plan is to find things to work on. Immediately, I should be taking a four-week statistics class. Oh, I decided to move forward with a masters degree, so I’ll have that to focus on as well. I may try Paleo again, which I tried when he went to Basic Training and lost 15 pounds! There is also that novel I started writing last year that I would be proud to complete. I have enough things to do that I see this separation as an opportunity rather than a pause.

That isn’t why I don’t want my husband to stay though. The rest of the Spencer’s battalion left a couple months ago. He didn’t leave because he was on medical profile after having vision correction surgery. There was a moment when his leadership told him they wanted him to stay behind as the point person during the deployment. I felt frustrated by this. Not just because the plan kept changing. I was frustrated because I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity. I didn’t want him to be the old dude in the battalion that still hasn’t deployed. I didn’t want him to be that one guy in a group that doesn’t get the joke because “you had to be there.” I didn’t want to spend the next nine months knowing my husband was wishing he were somewhere else, but that’s not what made my eyes sting.
While I was still unhappy with my career in St. Louis, there was at least the illusion of opportunity and the reality of money. You already know what the reality of my career prospects is here, so the consolation is the success of my husband’s career. If he doesn’t deploy, then he’s “behind.” I’m behind. This whole time I have watched opportunities be taken away from him and my career stall and roll backward. What made me tear up was that overwhelming feeling that if he has to miss out on something else, my professional sacrifice will be for absolutely nothing. It will be for his spun wheels, broken plans, late nights, and deep-seeded frustration, compliments of the Army.

So of course I want him to stay, but it is important that he goes. And he is going. True soldiers join the military to go through hardship. And I understand the danger and reconciled it when I decided to become a military spouse, that’s why fear is not a part of this discussion. We didn’t come to the land of chain restaurants for the chain restaurants. We are here because the one thing my husband knows more than anything is that he wants to be a soldier.

7 Ways to Be a Good Spouse (At Bad Times)

couple-simpatico

In November Spencer and I celebrated our two-year anniversary, and the retrospective portion of that was a lot different than the year prior. They can have 2016, it was rough for us. I had sat down then and tried to write a reflective post, but it just was not coming together. It was hard to sort through everything and make it interesting and upbeat. Right now I’m in a unicorn phase where I am obsessed with my husband and what he’s doing and wearing and he can’t get in a fight with me, so I wouldn’t want to convey otherwise. I decided that better than describing what BS we went through, I would skip straight to the lessons I learned from it.

  1. Be still as things neither you nor your spouse have control over frustrate the crap out of you.

The Army is number one for putting couples in the position of complete inconvenience with no one to hold accountable. When Spencer made it home from being dropped from Ranger School for no good reason, we had problems. This was January. He was getting moved to a different Division because of it and I was stressed about coming up on a year of unemployment. It was tense in our house for the first time. Then this summer, I was working full time and he was trying to deal with lack of job satisfaction and things got tense in a different way. Six months later I’m working from home, he’s working a different detail and the most tension we seem to experience is when he steps in water I didn’t dry up after refilling the Brita. I am saying that circumstances change, and don’t expect the issues or patches you are going through for a time to be your forever.

  1. State your grievances as clearly as possible and provide detailed instructions to help your spouse stop pissing you off, while maintaining an optimistic attitude.

This past year was one of transition. I was disappointed that it was not intuitive for Spencer to decide to sweep once he saw food piled under the cabinets. Unfortunately I conveyed my exasperation when I asked for his help, which offended him because I was in effect punishing him for something he had no clue was an expectation. This situation reiterated in many different forms. My advice to anyone would be to state your complaint and solution calmly and in good faith. If your request is not received after attempts on three separate occasions, feel free to pop off.

  1. Reevaluate your priorities to determine if the expectations that are stressing you really need to be on your list.

I tried to keep my house as clean as it had been before I started working 40 hours a week. I was wearing myself out going to the gym, cooking, going to work, and then coming home to spend all my free time cleaning at a snail’s pace because I was tired. I had to let go of my expectations for a clean kitchen. I had maintained certain standards because I felt those were my duties, but my husband wasn’t helping out without being asked because those were not things he cared about. I had the choice to let it be something I cared less about. On the other end of this, if you still care about something like the house being really clean, consider hiring someone to help you and alleviate some stress in your life. Yes, I know people can’t afford stuff like that and suggesting it makes me sound high maintenance, which I am.

  1. Find someone else to talk to.

My husband is not a talkative person, but I don’t think his reticence excuses him from having a conversation with me about my day or whatever is affecting me at the moment. Regardless of what his skills were, a listening face is what I needed in those moments and as a consequence, his inability to provide that was another fault added to my list. My advice to others is to again moderate your expectations of the other person, and figure out if you really need to talk or if you really want attention. There are ways to get attention without requiring him to be an excellent active listener when he is stressed too. If you really need to talk, recruit a friend and don’t let your spouse frustrate you by not being eager. Counselors are great for an opportunity to talk through something. Unfortunately I was unable to see mine at that time because of said job.

  1. Keep doing it (SEX).

I can’t make a list about being a good spouse without speaking on sex. This isn’t anything I learned from the past year, but it is important to keep viewing the sex as an aspect of the marriage to be maintained. It is easy not to be interested in sex when there are issues, but neglecting it will only make things worse. Requiring no words, sex may be the only way you communicate that is the same language. Sex helps to relieve stress and to reconnect as one.

  1. Keep it legal.

Don’t be looking to any other person or thing to fulfill the needs that should be met by your spouse. I know I just said to talk to someone else, but that’s for when you need to work through something. Don’t turn to another bank account to make you feel secure, or another man to make you feel desired, or even worse, vices to get you through. Things like those feel like remedies but rob the oneness of your marriage. Stay focused, and keep working at being the right person and helping your spouse be the right person.

  1. Pray for yourself and your spouse/Pursue personal development.

I think back over the struggles and still have trouble finding solutions other than what I chose in the moment. The only thing I can really pinpoint is that I should have committed to praying for myself and my spouse and fasted to really petition God for help. The solutions I came up with weren’t anywhere close to that, ie: not cooking for a week. I know everyone is not a Christian, so my advice is to be invested in your own well-being to center yourself for dealing with what comes and do the same for your spouse.

Being newlyweds, this year was the first time I had encountered a ‘system error’ in my marriage. As things changed, I wondered if things had always been off and I was just now becoming disillusioned. I found myself saying to my spouse “It’s like you don’t understand that marriages can end,” when I was fighting with him to do the work it takes to maintain ‘us.’ No, divorce never crossed my mind; we weren’t anywhere near that, but since I didn’t realize we were going through a trial, I felt we might be in the early stages of demise. I now know THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And, it takes time to grow and gains skills from new challenges. Be faithful  be steadfast in the work it takes and you will come out on the other side, holding hands, still leeching Netflix from your parents on a rainy day, simpatico once again.

2017 Baby!

 

Moving into 2017 is like the excitement of opening Facebook and seeing that you have more than ten notifications. Unlike Facebook, I refuse to let 2017 be just another game request.

I am 28 years old. Not yet 30 or panicking about being 30, and also not still trying to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing for once. I am excited about my opportunities over the next year. One year ago, I was applying for jobs at chain stores and hoping my husband didn’t end up in some worse situation after being dropped from Ranger School. I never heard back from any of the obscure places I applied to except the prestigious one I am employed with now, and my husband is fine; often on the cusp of being stressed out, but overall fine.

nonbabybump

This year I will lose that five pounds, except after the holidays it’s ten. I will sell baked stuff with the help of my brand new Kitchenaid Mixer I received for Christmas! (Look at God!) I will blog consistently. And I will try to learn to pop and lock. I am excited about the fact that our next vacation is this year, and that will be in New Orleans, or in Gulf Shores with the in-laws. But what is most exciting about 2017 is that this is when we are supposed to try to have a baaabbyyy!

The start line is many months away, but I am cross-eyed with pleasure at even the prospect. I know having a baby isn’t as easy as staying in for one well-timed evening- I am very aware of that, but for me, sometimes anticipation is the best part. I fully expect my husband to pull out on the deal at the last minute, but I’ll just be disappointed then instead of tempering my excitement now.

I have wanted to have a baby since approximately November 22, 2014, which is the date of my wedding… So I have just been waiting for the past two years; the past 12 years really. When I was in high school, I really wanted a baby. No, I wasn’t sexually active in high school, but I was obsessed with the idea of being pregnant and having a baby. Then in 11th grade I had to take home Baby ThinkItOver. I realized having a baby wouldn’t be primarily fun and games as I repeatedly woke up in the night to feed and change the thing like a zombie. That was when I thought it over.

 

Despite having no sex in high school, as a black female I was proud that I graduated without becoming pregnant. I was again proud of myself for the same thing when I graduated college. I wasn’t having sex then either. Since I have become of age to actually support a child, my feelings about it have evolved; primarily from possible to impossible to actually do it in a healthy way and not be poor. I am past that and finally gave in to my desire against rationality last spring accepting that I would just have to wait for Spencer to be ready.

In September I thought I could influence him by not bringing up having a baby for one entire month. I was basically successful at it, but with no gain- he still wasn’t interested discussing a baby. He had already said when he would be ready one year prior. Then, we fast forward to December where I feel ambivalent about having a child at all. Ambivalent means fluctuating in commitment one way or another. I could have just said that in the first place, but I need to elevate our collective vocabulary.

I was ambivalent because I finally felt I had something to look forward to in terms of personal goals and hobbies so I wasn’t fixated on the imminence of having a child. I had previously merely been focused on making it to an existential break-even point and a baby represented a significant, positive change. Fortunately I am not that desperate anymore.

To my surprise, our holiday travels tipped the scales. No one said it, but I think everyone in our families is lowkey dying for us to have a child. It’s like we have been at this stasis since all us children became adults. My sister-in-law is finally out of college and so begins the mundanity of adulthood for the last of us. The youngest cousin on his side is driving. There needs to be a baby to add intrigue and everyone knows that. She could get married, or my brother can get married, but regardless, we won’t be related to those persons, so we need a baby.

While I am excited about the things 2017 has in store, I plan to be patient. It’s the climb, people. I hope others can find the optimism I have unearthed in the wake of the busted trashbag of a year we just had. We have nowhere to go but up!  I should also mention that there is a possible deployment in the books for 2017. If that precludes us from fulfilling our familial duties this year, I will still live. Previously the prospect of having to wait another year and be THIRTY, nearly brought me to tears, but now I am strong enough to realize that was irrational and to appreciate the additional time to just “do me.”