Sunday, August 12, 2012

Communication is Key

When S was deployed in 2006, we had amazing communication. I wrote him at least 2 letters a day, usually more. We emailed, instant and video messaged (these were the days before Skype, so it was on horrible, yahoo or Aim chats), and talked on the phone everyday. He bought an Iraqi cell phone, and my parents added an international calling plan to their service (did I mention I was living with them and commuting to Georgia Tech at the time?); I was able to call him to wake him up in the mornings, and he could call me before he went to bed in the evening (if there were no communication blackouts, that is). We talked all. The. Time. I used to joke that it is what kept us together, but as more and more of the other couples in his unit began to break apart, that may have rung true.

We're still pretty fantabulous, but not like we were, then. Then, we survived on communicating well with one another. As we've moved to adjusting to him back in the US, adjusting living with one another, adjusting to him leaving the Army to become a student, moving into our own house, graduating, getting a big girl job, graduate school, becoming a family... that ability to communicate that way has been tested. It's sometime much harder to actually talk to someone, especially when letters and email and instant messages have defined the way two people "talk" to one another for so long.

The first time I think we struggled--really struggled-- to communicate was about six weeks after he returned from Iraq. He had flown home to Georgia for the holidays, and we were driving back to Oklahoma to end [his] terminal service (ETS). I'm not going to lie: I was in a funk. I am still not sure what was wrong with me, but I was having a very difficult time with the transition. Perhaps part of it was the fact that we left for Oklahoma the morning of December 26. Perhaps it was missing out on "key holiday time" with my family to spend fourteen hours in the car to go stay with people I didn't really know. Or perhaps it was fear, that, for the first time, we were going to be living--actually living--together. We had been married for a year and a half, and the most time we had ever spent together at once was 2 weeks. And I found I couldn't really talk to my husband, and I didn't know why.

Eventually, we were able to get through that. And a couple years later, we were enjoying the best communication of our relationship. We had recently moved into our first house (yes, we lived with my parents for quite awhile--a combination of being poor college students and the fact that S wasn't receiving half of his education fund, which led to 2 years of appeals processes), and were able to exist comfortably. I can't remember how it started, but we began just sitting outside that summer and spring, sipping on Scotch Whisky while S smoked a cigar. We talked for hours, about everything, and it was probably the healthiest our marriage has ever been. We were completely in-tune with one another, and it was pretty awesome.

Then there was a commissioning, the Basic Officer Leadership Course (BLOC), a baby, moving cross-country, hypothyroidism. The wires slowly met a disconnect, and communicating with S has become less seamless than it once had been. Don't worry, we're still pretty fantastic at talking with one another, but it seems less... natural. More forced. And I find that sometimes, I just don't know what to say--or how to say it, perhaps--like I did a few years ago.

It's not bad, it's just frustrating. I am trying to figure out how to get back to "that place"--the one we had when he was deployed, and again a few years later. I'm not really up for recreating a deployment, but I would love to recreate late-night chat time. I am hoping now that his unit's mission is over for the summer and the Olympics have officially come to a close, we will be able to have some real adult conversation time once E goes to bed. I think we have a lot to talk about, a lot that I am holding back because I just don't know how to go about saying (maybe I can draw pictures!), and it needs to come out!

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