Can distance really make a heart grow stronger?|
Commentary by Tech. Sgt. Christina M. Styer
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
2/14/2013 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) --
At home I can barely get him to buy me a five-dollar bouquet of wildflowers from the grocery store but now that I am deployed he goes all out with hidden notes in care packages, daily emails and nightly text messages wishing me sweet dreams and expressing his love.
My husband has learned that in order to keep our flame alive, we're going to have to give a little more and work a little harder than normal. The joys of a military-to-military marriage are a blessing but, the other side is separations that are, at times, long and taxing on a marriage.
For us, our first separation was an extreme one; my husband and I spent 25 days together during our first 13 months of marriage. This time apart taught us how important it is to find ways to keep our flame alive.
One of the most difficult long-distance relationship stresses is emotional needs not being met. When we are together a look, a touch or even enjoying daily routines together satisfies those needs, but when we're apart it's often more difficult to feel the special bond we share that make our relationships so special to us.
There are times that a hidden love letter will give us all we need from our significant other for a short time. There are times, however, when we need much more from our loved ones. How do we find balance between what we need and what they can give us?
I have been told that relationships should be 50-50, but I don't feel this is realistic. If my other half is always expecting me to deliver my 50 percent, I am afraid it may leave him wanting more and disappointed on those days I cannot give my full share.
In my marriage there are times I am able to give my 50 percent, there are days I feel like I am giving closer to 80 percent, and sometimes, sadly, I realize I am only giving somewhere around 30 percent. We are all human, and sometimes we just don't have that 50 percent to give. The delicate balance of bringing a couple to 100 percent is trial by error, and the reality is that every day cannot be a honeymoon.
Becoming aware of, and accepting, who my husband is and what he can give has helped us find balance in our marriage. For us, this is important because we, as humans, are fallible; we can be selfish, needy, and we have the ability to hurt each other when we don't mean to.
Understanding each other -- what our needs are, what our loved one's needs are, what we are capable of giving and what they are capable of giving -- is the key to surviving the physical and emotional distance our deployments create. Knowing these things helps us manage our expectations of each other.
Expectations are vital in a marriage, but there are times when we have to know that our significant others are just as human as we are. There will be times when they cannot meet our needs the way we want them to. When this happens, if we have not learned what they need and what they are capable of giving, we repeatedly find ourselves arguing. These arguments are often not even about what is bothering us. We can, however, avoid this.
Accepting that there are times we are going to have to meet our significant others half way, or even tell them exactly what it is we need from them and being willing to forgive them for falling short of our expectations or fulfilling our needs is vital to the strength of any marriage, especially when separation is involved.
We all fall short at times and if we want our partner to give us a pass when it is us, we have to be willing to do the same for them. It will happen because we are all human. For me, what works is saving those nightly texts and sweet daily emails and pulling out the love notes I found in a care package to fill those voids when my husband is unable to completely meet one of my needs. I know what I need and what he is capable of giving. Together, we have found a way to allow the distance to make our hearts grow fonder.