This year has tested the hypothesis that being an army wife is tough. The warnings have proven true. It is no easy feat. Reis was deployed for 122 days and arrived home 3 weeks ago. Two months into the deployment we caught up for a week in Darwin (which was amazing and felt like a second honeymoon – I wrote about that here and here). Following that, I continued to busy myself with work, exams, travel and friends.
Overall I coped well, but the last three weeks were awful. Time couldn’t have gone slower. I was pretty darn over living without a husband. Although my good friends were super considerate of my temporary “singleness”, I was really over being the extra wheel and going home to an empty house. I’m embarrassed to confess that the unflattering and rather repulsive green eyed monster occasionally surfaced when others would talk about missing their date nights or whinge that they hadn’t seen their partner for a few days or couple of weeks. I wanted to scream ‘DEAL WITH IT – I have to!’. I began to feel a slight anger that he had been taken away from me for so long. What usually brings me joy – like blogging and working out – was difficult to do. I felt anxious and all I felt I could do was wait…and eat (a bad combination).
Before Reis’ return
I always find the last few weeks the toughest. Logic says this should be a time of excitement and anticipation. Whilst it was, interspersed amongst this were feelings of worry and resentment. Let me try to explain why.
Firstly, when you haven’t lived with your husband for 4 months and the 12 months preceding you’ve only seen him mostly only on weekends, there are pretty high expectations of how wonderful life will be upon his return. You make plans. You dream over the phone about all the places you’ll eventually go together; the people you will entertain and a myriad of other things you want to do when you’re reunited. We do our best to keep it realistic, knowing our end of year commitments are huge and time will be sparse, but it’s the hope of knowing there are good times to come that encourages perseverance.
Despite placing our dreams around our commitments like a neat jigsaw puzzle, it became apparent in the last few weeks that I was too busy, Reis was too tired and our diary too full, for many of these plans to come to fruition. We would be home for only a few days before away for a month. With such little time, how could we even get used to living as a married couple again before having to return home and throw ourselves back into mundane everyday life? Would we face similar struggles to those I outlined here again?
Secondly, there is a loss of independence. I knew that my routine was about to go out the window. Goodbye gym, you’re not so enticing at 6.30am when I have a good looking husband back in my bed. Goodbye strictly health food only kitchen, Reis likes sweets and bread and when they are available, so do I! Goodbye flexibility in timings and the use of our car, its time to share. I had learnt to enjoy aspects of my independence and the same was true for Reis.
Thirdly, there are undertones of resentment which flow from ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ syndrome. Our imaginations develop perceptions of a freedom the other has enjoyed. I saw Reis as having freedom from housework and cooking. Reis saw me as enjoying a more flexible schedule and spending time with friends. To reduce this, we have found that showing each other appreciation for our additional roles taken on whilst apart has been really helpful.
After our reunion
Thankfully, he arrived home and we were both aware of a potential difference between our expectations and the reality of how our reunion would play out. It was super exciting to see each other again and Reis was really wise in requesting an easy stir fry for dinner so I wouldn’t stress if I had planned a big meal but didn’t get time to cook it.
It has been interesting to learn that our ideas of relaxing are different. In a pursuit to escape the rigid routine of deployment Reis wants to watch cricket and lounge around. I like to go to the beach and drink coffee at as many cute cafés as is possible. Communication and compromise has been key to helping us both relax and giving our plans clarity, reducing potential disappointments.
I’ve found it difficult to continue with the aforementioned things that help me enjoy and relax because I don’t want to miss a minute with Reis. In saying this, when I return home, I think it will be important for me to reengage with these. If I am relaxed it’s much easier to love Reis, to be gracious, understanding and caring as we rebuild intimacy and new routines together.
Despite the difficulties, I am LOVING sharing the details of my life with Reis in more than a twenty minute phone call at 10.30pm. I am LOVING reading the bible with Reis and sharing over a cuppa in the sun, what God has taught us these last four months. I am LOVING having Reis’ positive, uplifting and loving words encourage me each day. I am LOVING having my best friend right back by my side. Just where he belongs.