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My DH hasn't deployed, but we've been married long enough (and through enough) that, boy, I am feeling for you.  So until someone qualified posts you a reply, here's my thoughts :-)  

You either grow together or apart, and it's REALLY hard when you are separated to keep traveling the same path, especially when something tramatic happens.  We haven't had death but family issues with his brother, and it was really hard for my husband to not be resentful that no one else (not even me) could understand what he was feeling.  I guess I just tried to show in other ways that I was there for him, but it WAS really hard.  Esp when it felt like "you don't understand" was not just an accusation, but a chasm between us.  

The biggest things I did, besides accepting he needed to be sad and mad and whatnot, was to 1. drag him to a chaplain/counselor, and 2. encourage/facilitate in every way that he talk to friends who had been through similar stuff and provide opportunities for him to bond with them.  Guys typically won't call each other up to talk, but if you put them on Xbox live killing zombies, they'll open up bc they aren't making eye contact with each other LOL   And, bc we had a child also affected by the situation, I made it really clear that lashing out was unacceptable and that there was no excuse for failing common courtesy (like ignoring your graduation!!) and that it set a bad example to our son, like, "I don't have to be polite when I'm hurt or angry"  Um, no!  Also, read up on PTSD and the stages of grief FOR SURE.  It will help understand why he is acting as he is.  Congrats on your graduation (that's awesome!!) and if you guys can communicate, be patient, and weather your way through this, you will have a really successful marriage :-)

Hi guys! I really need your help on this one (sorry for the length, I wanted to give as much detail as I could).

To give you the background, I met my Army National Guard soldier about a year and a half ago (December 2010). Right off the bat we had a sexual relationship (something I have never done with any other boyfriend before). We then started dating and things were going good. He is 21 right now and I am 23 in June. At the time we met he was 19 and I was 21. He doesn't have much of a home life, doesn't have very close ties to his parents due to family issues. I kind of feel he didn't have someone who would stick by him through tough times. He started his first semester of college but found out he was going to deploy soon after that (his first deployment ever, and mine). He had to go through a lot of training, but things were still really good between us. We became each other's best friend.

On one leave between trainings (October 2011) he proposed to me in a really sweet, thought out way. I said yes because I truly believe I want to spend the rest of my life with him. Things were still going good, he came home for Christmas and New Years and then shortly after New Years had to leave to get deployed to Afghanistan.

The first month was fine, we talked on Skype a lot, emailed and FaceBook messaged every day. He said it was really hard out there and he was having a tough time with the long days and short hours of sleep. And maybe I wasn't helping by expressing my fears and concerns about him and things over there. He started talking a little less each time starting about a month and a half after leaving. We kind of argued, nothing I thought was major, more like bickering. I just thought it was the stress of everything.

Then about a month ago, three men from his unit were killed, and every time we talked after that he kept talking about how he knew them, saw them everyday, and how good of men they were. I talked with him for as long as he wanted and tried to be as supportive as I could because obviously he was hurting. We would go days with out talking sometimes.

Then a week ago (Saturday) we were bickering again. But we seemed to end on an ok note, and I reminded him that my graduation ceremony was the next day (I got my bachelors degree). He never said anything to me about it. No messages the day of the ceremony, nothing. I messaged him several times each day and the app on my phone said he looked at my messages but didn't reply. I was a wreck. He finally messaged me Thursday saying "we need to talk"... that's never good...

He told me he wasn't sure how he felt about me anymore, about our relationship. He was thinking we had progressed too soon (we got engaged in under a year, and over all the training and deployment, he will be gone for half of our relationship). And that he was having doubts about his doubts, maybe it was just the distance and circumstances, or maybe he had just realized something about our relationship he didn't see when he was here. And he felt guilty about holding me back. He was afraid I wasn't taking jobs because of him, and I couldn't do things because of him. He confessed he had been avoiding talking to me for about the last month to two months. And that he used to be excited to talk to me, and now he didn't really want to. I asked him directly if he wanted to break up and I would still be there for him as a friend and support him through the rest of the deployment (trying to give him the easy way out if he didn't want the relationship anymore).

But he said he didn't want to break up. He didn't want to lose me. He wanted to wait and see what happens when he gets back, which will be in September sometime. It's been a few days since then. I've messaged him daily, admittedly less than before, and he has replied with a few lines. We've Skyped a couple of times too. Mostly I've just been trying to get a better grasp of the situation. I've been looking things up about depression since he has seemed to show four of the most common symptoms of it. Withdrawing, increased irritation, guilt and decreased interest in activities he once liked. I asked him if maybe he thought he was depressed and he denied it and didn't talk much.

So please, if you or someone you know has been through this reply to this thread. I would greatly appreciate it. Is this "normal" of first deployments/deployments in general? What can I do to help him? What can I do to help me? This last week has been pure hell for me.

Thank you! I'm trying to be as understanding as I can. You made me think of a few things I didn't think of before (stages of grief) that I'll have to look into. I think (I hope) we can work this out. Once he get's back it'll be easier I think.

 
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