If you've been reading my posts about this (you can find them here, and here) you know that part of the reason I wanted to talk about this on the blog is become communication during separation is probably the number one topic that military spouses (especially newer ones) want to talk about. And its not just the spouses - the girlfriend, boyfriends and fiance's definitely want to talk about it as well. It is a very difficult side effect of the military life; and it doesn't matter whether or not you've been together a month, a year or fifteen years (as is our case). What I've found to be universally true (with few exception) is that the sadness of the separation and the stress of the person who has left and the one at home, is the true cause of the negative communication. Many times I don't deal with my actual sadness about him being gone becuase I feel like I have to buck up and deal. I choose to be in a relationship with someone who is in the Air Force. That doesn't mean that I can't be sad. And for reals peeps, dealing with three kids alone isn't a walk in the park! This is especially true when you don't have family close. It costs us an arm and a leg to be near our families.
All of that being said, doing this with an open mind and heart helped me deal with all of those feelings. Doing this at the front end of a separation is the key I believe. And trying out this little dare with or without your partner or for whatever length you are parted is great. It doesn't matter whether they are gone a weekend, two weeks or for a lengthy deployment.
Halfway through the dare (or 27 days as it were) you will see a huge effect on your relationship during the separation. There have been some hard questions, both asked of yourself and your partner. Some serious looking at yourself and identifying key issues for both of you. So not only does this challenge you to have loving conversations and take note of your negativity, but it also grows and strengthens your relationship no matter what stage it is at.
Day 27: During Deployment "Love Encourages" was a fantastic day. Here's one of my favorite paragraphs of the day:
What is it that you want married life to be? Do you want to feel secure, free to be yourself even if/when you fail? Your spouse wants that, too. The bottom line is that it is a choice to live by encouragement rather than by expectations. Towards your spouse you are to be encouraging—pouring in to them words and actions which allow them the freedom to be themselves, feeling loved. Towards yourself you are to take responsibility for your own words and actions in order to improve yourself, rather than demanding more from others.
Isn't that amazing? Your marriage is only what you make of it, and if you are saying to yourself, "this isn't what I thought it was going to be," start by looking at yourself first and then proceed from there. That initially acknowledgement will go along way with your spouse and for your own personally healing. There is one particular issue within our marriage, that has been an issue from very early on. What it is isn't important, but it is something that I firmly belived would drive a real and permanent wedge between us. It was bad. It occassionaly has reared its ugly head and for various reasons it hasn't been handled ever the way that I had hoped it would be. First of all, I didn't handle it. I wanted to put it all on him. He's Mr. Air Force for crying out loud, my husband, shield and protector. In my eyes he wasn't doing any of those things. But my anger was just as much a contributer to the situation between he and I. Accepting responsibility for my role is crucial. And while it has had an effect, I can choose to let it be the master of my marriage or I can let God be the master. I'm human, and I realize that I have many shortcomings. Despite all my best intentions I know that this issue will still be there and will cause problems. But I have to rise above and choose a different path, not only for me, but for us.
Have you ever done the love dare? Have you tried the deployment version? I want to hear about it. And if you have questions or want to talk I'm here for that too!