Managing military seperations - Talk About Marriage
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post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-08-2016, 11:38 AM Thread Starter
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Managing military seperations

Hi all. I'm new here and visited because i could use some advice....

Our story started in July 2013. We met on an online dating site on July 3rd, exchanged emails for a couple weeks,* then met in person for a run and coffee on July 13. We were immediately smitten with each other and had two more dates lined up by the time we finished our first meeting.* The problem: he's military.*
Being from a large military community,* I never date military because they are always leaving.
Well,* not only did I date him,* but I married him in March 2015. And now,* the problem is: he's always gone.**
*
Just a few details: this is not either of our first marriage.* We both have teenage children from previous marriages and our families have come together beautifully.

We are another story however.
By the time we reach our one year wedding anniversary,* we'll have only spent 4 months together,* and only 2 of those at a time.* That time has been filled with stress and tension between us.* We were engaged in Feb 2014. He spent 10 months away,* returning in Dec 2014. We were married March 2015, he left for 6 months in May 2015. Returned in Nov 2015, and we moved to Germany in Dec 2015. It's now Feb 2016, and he's been gone since the end of Jan,* not to return until March.* So now, in addition to being apart from my husband,* I am also away from my friends,* family,* gave up my job and home, to move to a new country.*It's just putting this awful strain on our relationship.* We don't communicate like we used to.* Even when he's home,* he's distracted and I end up feeling angry and unappreciated. * I don't ask for/need material STUFF,* just for our relationship to be better, more communication,* a solid marriage. It seems that when we approach these seperations,* I become clingy and needy and he becomes distant and hateful.* He does have a problem with anger that he has acknowledged and is working on.* He's consisted seeming anger management when he returns. I have a problem with insecurity.*

Granted, all of the time we've spent together has involved big changes: moving in, planning a wedding, planning a huge move to another country. There's also been a pretty major survey, the loss of my job due to this move, renting our homes out, and other stressful things. I just keep waiting for this to settle down.

Any advice on how to manage this without ending up in divorce before we even experience or marriage?* Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 02:34 AM
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Re: Managing military seperations

First, I don't think the stressful situations (moving etc) can be blamed for much, if any, of your conflict. And I don't things things will settle down when your lives are more regular. You're still in the first few years of your relationship, and if things aren't happy now, they're not going to suddenly become happy because of some external factor.

You are experiencing your marriage right now. This is what your marriage is.

The first eight years of my relationship with my spouse were long distance, so this is coming from someone who has kept a relationship successful despite that factor. Mind you, my needs seem to be very different from yours: I don't need a lot of attention or affection to feel loved and valued.

I think it's great that you can identify some of the needs you have, such as insecurity, and that you can identify some of the negatives (in his perception) which you might be displaying ("clingy and needy"). That's actually a great jumping off point for a real and helpful discussion about your relationship.

My approach would be to go out for coffee when you see each other next, and to start out the conversation by saying "I realize I've been acting clingy and needy when you're around. And that must be really stressful for you when your only time to relax is when you come home. I was hoping we could work together so I can make you feel more comfortable, so we can be happy when we spend time together."

Assuming your husband cares about you, which I'm sure he does, this achieves a few things:

1) It makes it clear you're thinking about his needs. Yes, you have needs as well, but that's all he's been hearing about lately and even if he's taken time for his own needs, it probably feels to him like he hasn't been able to address them properly. So taking some time out for his needs, and temporarily setting your own aside, is a healthy thing to do, and gives him the opportunity to go on to point 2 (below).

2) It makes him want to return the favour. This isn't the primary goal here, since you really should be genuine about wanting to make things better for him, and putting his needs on at least as high a level as your own. But if your needs were addressed wholeheartedly right now, wouldn't you feel like you wanted to return the favour?

Healthy relationships stay healthy because both people know, from their history together, that the other person cares and wants the best for them. You guys haven't had time to really build that yet, but you will. And it looks like this time it starts with you: Go ahead and want the best for him. Make it clear you're trying to address what he wants and needs out of your relationship, so he feels secure and confident enough to do the same for you.

There is, of course, a chance that doing this won't work (it definitely won't work if you aren't genuine, but even if you are there's a chance of failure). If that's the case, you may need to have a discussion about your needs so the relationship doesn't become one-sided. If that happens, I think the important thing is to talk about it before you've become upset all over again by the situation. In other words, be direct about your needs, but not emotional right off the bat. I might say "I'd really like it if we could cuddle more before we go to sleep at night. I like it when we do that." Or perhaps, "It makes me feel really loved when you think of me and pick up an extra coffee on the way home."

Something I do, probably out of habit at this point, is thank my husband frequently when he makes me happy. Not every single time or anything like that, but I'm often saying things like "thanks, I really needed that hug," or "aw, I love it when you tell me you love me; it makes me feel all warm inside." I rarely have to ask for attention, but I get a lot of it. I guess I make it worth it and enjoyable for him to give me plenty. But more importantly, I get the full enjoyment out of each experience, because I get to return that joy to him, too.

Anyway. I hope I don't sound all holier-than-thou or anything... I'm naturally less in need of attention than most people, but that has its downsides too. I think the long-distance element can work very well and my experience has proven that, and I bet you can make it work for you too. The important thing is knowing what your needs are (which you do) and being able to communicate them to your spouse.

I hope everything works out for you and that you and your spouse both see your needs met and a happier, less stressful relationship soon.
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post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 09:33 AM Thread Starter
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"First, I don't think the stressful situations (moving etc) can be blamed for much, if any, of your conflict. "

I disagree.* Of course external factors affect any relationship. These situations have taken a toll on us individually,* and of course that impacts the relationship, and it's silly to think otherwise. We didn't move across the street,* we moved across the world to a different country. Surely you can appreciate the challenges that holds (in addition to all the other changes that encompasses).*

We've had the conversations you've suggested.* He states that HE doesn't feel that I am clingy (I am the one who feels that I am,* if that makes sense). He consistently has taken responsibility for the distance and says that he tries not to let work,* etc affect us,* but for some reason it always does. I don't expect or want either of us to take the blame here,* I just want us to manage the situation more appropriately.*



Not sure how my post came across as him always having to hear about my needs, because that is not the case.* I realize that we need to maximize the quality of our time together, and we do that. * I am very affectionate and sexual and that is part of the way I show my feelings to my partner, something that he enjoys.* When I say I tend to be needy,* I meant more on* an emotional level. It seems like it's the week before and first week of his being gone that are the hardest.

I agree that over time,* it's much easier to manage the distance.* Eventually you settle into your own seperate routines. Usually by week 2, everything is back to "normal" for both of us.** We've both agreed that the adjustment periods associated with 6 wks away are much harder than the 10 month seperation.*

Perhaps I needed to be clearer with what I was looking for.* Perhaps some ideas on how to reconnect and stay connected during seperations would be more helpful. Obviously, open and good* communication is always key, and something we are always working on improving.

Thanks for your response,* I appreciate it!*
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post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-10-2016, 11:57 PM
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Re: Managing military seperations

I was worried, after writing my response, that it might come across as painting you as some kind of problem when that wasn't my intention. Sorry about that; I didn't mean to say you're in the wrong in any way, only that if there's some kind of problem in a relationship (and maybe there isn't in yours), the solution can start with one person (regardless of where the problem began).

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Originally Posted by Peaf View Post
I disagree.* Of course external factors affect any relationship. These situations have taken a toll on us individually,* and of course that impacts the relationship, and it's silly to think otherwise. We didn't move across the street,* we moved across the world to a different country. Surely you can appreciate the challenges that holds (in addition to all the other changes that encompasses).*
You know more about your relationship than I do by far, so perhaps you're right. If you'd like to know where I was coming from:

One thing to keep in mind is that there will always be external factors, and those external factors will have a lasting effect on your relationship even after they're gone.

Personally I've found that in tough times, my relationship has become stronger because of the support my husband and I have given each other. It's really easy to lash out or hole up when times are stressful, but we've managed to always remember we're a team and apologize to each other when it's called for.

The way you act (and feel about each other) in times of stress is a major indicator of how things are.

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Originally Posted by Peaf View Post
We've had the conversations you've suggested.* He states that HE doesn't feel that I am clingy (I am the one who feels that I am,* if that makes sense). He consistently has taken responsibility for the distance and says that he tries not to let work,* etc affect us,* but for some reason it always does. I don't expect or want either of us to take the blame here,* I just want us to manage the situation more appropriately.*

Not sure how my post came across as him always having to hear about my needs, because that is not the case.* I realize that we need to maximize the quality of our time together, and we do that. * I am very affectionate and sexual and that is part of the way I show my feelings to my partner, something that he enjoys.* When I say I tend to be needy,* I meant more on* an emotional level. It seems like it's the week before and first week of his being gone that are the hardest.
I'm happy to hear this. It didn't come across to me in your initial post, which is why I thought you hadn't talked much about it. I thought you were assuming he saw you as needy, and now I see that's not the case.

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Originally Posted by Peaf View Post
I agree that over time,* it's much easier to manage the distance.* Eventually you settle into your own seperate routines. Usually by week 2, everything is back to "normal" for both of us.** We've both agreed that the adjustment periods associated with 6 wks away are much harder than the 10 month seperation.*
I haven't found this to be the case for me. But, my husband was never in the military and I think there are some differences since I could talk to him on the phone whenever I wanted and so on. So I don't have much else to say on this point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peaf View Post
Perhaps I needed to be clearer with what I was looking for.* Perhaps some ideas on how to reconnect and stay connected during seperations would be more helpful. Obviously, open and good* communication is always key, and something we are always working on improving.

Thanks for your response,* I appreciate it!*
Well, when I'm not having much sex I watch porn and have a lot of bubble baths... but that probably isn't helpful. :P

Sexually: If you are able to talk on the phone you could try phone sex. If you're able to video chat you could dress up in your nicest lingerie and give him a show, and ask what he'd like you to do to yourself for him.

Emotionally: In my relationship, being apart for a long time was easy because we were still involving each other in day-to-day things. We made decisions together and we made plans together, and we involved each other in our lives and in our futures. You and your husband already assume you have a future together (I assume, since you're married), so I guess this is already the case for you, but I guess maybe the key is just to talk about things a lot while you're thinking about them. Even if it's as small as "I was thinking about moving that cabinet in the living room" or something.

And future plans are even more important. The things I think of as early-relationship questions, like "do you want to let our future kids watch TV?" and "Do you want to retire in the city or the country?" and that kind of thing.

Although, I think my husband might say it was harder for him to be apart for those years. He's more romantically inclined than I am! Maybe I should ask him what kept him going...
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post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old 02-11-2016, 05:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for your response.* I agree that there will always be external factors,* absolutely.* I think we've just had so many at one time and have had to deal with them usually during a seperation that it has been a little much. I think it'll definitely make us stronger in the long run,* but geez,* sometimes I'd* just like life to be easy!...haha,* wouldn't we all!

I like those ideas,* and we used to send each other videos and sexy pictures a LOT during our last couple seperations.* This time is harder because he's in a tent with a bunch of other soldiers. There's some other factors: Internet (un)availability, the sensitivity of his job, time differences, long work days, etc. that* contribute to pretty limited communication. I shouldn't complain,* we are luckier than some and communicate somehow at least twice a day usually.

Since* we just moved here,* there is a lot of decisions day to day that I don't discuss with him.* I'm used to being super independent and feel like I'd* bother him with "trivial" things. But, maybe that has led to him not feeling needed,* or feeling left out?** That's something I hadn't* considered and I'll need to talk to him about that.

Last night he did email me shared some feeling (which strongly mirrored mine)* so I'm glad that we are on the same page.* He said he feels like we've been overwhelmed lately and haven't really taken time for each* other, all our energy had been focused on everything else.** He is planning a romantic weekend get away when he returns and to celebrate our anniversary. The trip sounds great,* but the part I'm really excited about is that he also sees the opportunity to improve"us".

Thanks for your* input! A different perspective is always welcome,* and you really gave me some things to consider.*
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