I wanted to devote one post solely on communication. One of the most important things I’ve learned during my long distant relationship, is that communication is key. I want to break this out into sections to explain my reasons and personal experiences deeper.
So, can we talk?
We live in a society where we can communicate within seconds to just about anyone, at anytime, and anywhere. In many ways this is a blessing, but I also think it can be harmful. K and I had been dating for two months when he left for boot camp. We had many conversations before he left to make sure that we both wanted the same thing out of our relationship. We both agreed that if we weren’t 100% committed, then we would break up before he left. If we stayed together, then we would stay together no matter what came our way. Thankfully we agreed on the latter. I didn’t have military friends. This life was very new to me, but my life hasn’t always been easy. I didn’t expect my future to be easy either.
I’m very thankful that K and I were dating while he went to bootcamp. Immediately when they arrive on base in The Great Lakes, they are given one phone call to say “I made it”. Then the only way to communicate is by writing letters. I was a girlfriend at the time so I told K to always call his mother first. I knew he would get to make a phone call in the middle and towards the end of bootcamp. I’m thankful for these two months because it forced me to be okay with not being able to communicate at any given time. I took advantage of writing letters. I wrote one every single day. I sent him funny memes, pictures of myself, and I told him about my day. Writing helped me release the sadness I had while he was away. I tried not to write about that, but I certainly let him know that I missed him and I was so proud of what he was doing. I tried to be as encouraging as possible. I used sandboxx.com to write a lot of my letters. You can track them and they are typically delivered within a few days. Snail mail would take at least a week coming from Texas. I tried to schedule it so he would receive a letter everyday. While he was at bootcamp some days were harder than others. There were days of feeling lonely and sad, but I just tried to tell myself that I knew he was safe and okay. Looking back now, bootcamp has probably been the easiest part of this experience!
Your sailor changes while in the navy. They are essentially being trained for the most important job of their life. They have to learn to bottle and control their emotion while facing their fears. They are responsible for other people’s lives. Everyone will handle this experience differently. For K, I think he learned to appreciate his family and the little things more than before. Life is short and it is not worth beating around the bush or waiting for doors to open. Sometimes you have to open those doors or bluntly say what you mean. Communicating long distance requires patience, understanding, love, and trust. When you disagree, fighting is not the answer. Someone once told me that when a problem arises in a relationship, don’t let it come between you. Instead work together to figure out how to resolve it. Also, I wish I could yell this from the roof tops. Lol! Do not argue and fight over texting. In fact, if there is conflict immediately call. If someone can’t physically talk about it at that moment then WAIT. Do not text about it. You can’t hear emotion and so many times text can be misinterpreted. I know from experience. Waiting can be good as well. It gives both of you time to calm down and gather your thoughts.
The last point I would like to highlight is self identity. This doesn’t necessarily relate to communication, but I think will help when your availability to talk to your sailor is reduced drastically. You need to have friends. You need to go for a walk. You need to eat healthy. You need to have your own life. Your sailor may be the most important thing to you, but you have to find joy and have a life without them as well. Practice this now. Don’t wait until deployments. your relationship is not your identity. Your world should not revolve around waiting for your phone to ring. That is not what life is meant for. Staying busy and doing things that are good for your health, mind, and body will help you from feeling lonely or depressed when you can’t talk. However, it takes time. It helped me to learn when my thoughts and feelings were pure and true or when my insecurities were taking control and I was panicking for no reason. It’s okay if your sailor isn’t able to talk all the time. That doesn’t mean their love for you has changed. Trust them unless they have given you a valid reason not to. I think sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Let me tell you, I can convince myself of the worst lies. Sometimes I can convince myself of things that are so far from the truth. So start now. Find your own joy, nobody can do that for you. Do not wait for the first deployment.
If you are a seasoned military spouse and have other advice to give, please leave a comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear about your experiences and what helped you during these times.