Being in a military relationship is unlike any other, and it’s often not what people imagine it to be. When Kyle joined the Army, many of my friends thought, “Okay, no big deal.” But I knew it was a big deal. How could it not be? People assume that it’s romantic and glorious, and it is all of those things. Sometimes.
While Kyle was in training, I learned a lot of things about myself, our relationship, and the people that I had in my life at that time. Being alone causes you to evaluate some things in your life; it’s unavoidable. I learned that I had to change some things.
Oh boy, this was a big one. You don’t realize how impatient you are until your patience is tested in the largest of ways. I would get so anxious waiting all day for a message from Kyle, that when he was finally able to talk, I was mad. I waited all the time and then decided to waste it being mad?! I shake my head at the thought of my old self.
When you feel yourself getting irritated and upset, just take a breather. Slow it down. Time will pass no matter what your attitude is, and tomorrow will turn into yesterday before you know it. Don’t waste the little time you have talking to each other, because you never know. There are wives, mothers, children, and husbands that wait months for a message from their loved one. Remember that next time you feel a little impatient after 24 hours.
It wasn’t until Kyle had left that I realized how much I relied on him. Even now, I think this is a lesson I keep having to relearn. I relied on him to carry heavy things, drive me places when I got too tired, and change the laundry when I forgot. But it wasn’t those things that made my heart ache. It was that I relied on him to hold my hand, wipe my tears, and make me feel safe. Now I had to be a strong person, for myself and him. I had to protect myself.
Don’t ever forget that despite your situation, whether you’re alone due to deployments or training, or reunited with your loved one, the relationship you have with yourself is still so important. Don’t forget what you need and who you are because you’re lost in this rut. I got to know myself again while Kyle was gone, and our relationship grew because of that. Sometimes a little struggle is exactly what you need to remember what you’re capable of.
It was a hard lesson to learn, but I eventually had to realize who my true friends were. I was never one to throw a “pity party” for myself, and never asked for attention about the matter. I didn’t go on and on about Kyle and how much I missed him. But I still expected people to care. Instead, I found that many friends would compare my situation to theirs and belittle my pain, which is something that I would never do to another person.
Through this I learned not only who my real friends were, but how to stand up to the people who were treating me poorly. I tried to stop caring about people who didn’t care about me, or even ask how I was. I stopped pushing myself to please every single person, and going out of my way for those who wouldn’t do the same for me. I learned that one of the best things I have ever been is an excellent friend and, although it causes me to have high expectations of others, I’m really proud of that.
People make mistakes, and they forget about our feelings sometimes. They make decisions without thinking of how we would be affected. Why? Because they’re human. Sometimes we are all a little selfish. It hurts when we are on the receiving end of it, but you have to let it go.
While Kyle was gone, we each did our own thing with our friends and tried to stay busy. But on days when I wasn’t busy and he was, I really felt the difference between us. I would get upset because I felt like he should drop everything just because I was free and wanted to talk to him all day. My feelings were hurt when he would take a while to respond because he was going for a run, or spending down time with his friends. Looking back I know that I was just frustrated, and I felt like I was left behind in some sense. He forgave me for my ever-changing mood, and I forgave him for not always being able to see things from my perspective.
NOTHING IS PERMANENT
The most frequently changing thing in life is time: it goes on, and so will you and I. There were times when I sat on the floor and just cried, and swore that I couldn’t make it. But even as a cried, time passed. I learned to be strong, to pick myself up and start my day.
BE POSITIVE, BUT BE OPEN
So many people make the mistake of hiding their feelings because they don’t want to upset the other person. This is true for all relationships, not just long distance ones. No one wants to complain, or wallow, especially when the other person is going through so many changes.
Always be honest, no matter what. That’s my biggest and most long-standing rule. When Kyle had a bad day and needed to vent, I was the positive voice that told him to keep going. And he was the same for me. Don’t ever let your relationship become a pattern of feeding each others negativity. It won’t get you anywhere.
If you’re facing a long distance and/or military relationship just know that you’re not alone. That other person needs you on the same level that you need them. Learn to be strong on days when you think you can’t, and be a leader for others who feel lost in their own situation.
What have you learned in your own relationship, military or otherwise?