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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

The Deployment Disconnect

Marriages are hard.

There’s really no way around that.

I don’t care if two people are absolute soul mates/best friends/passionate as heck about each other there will still be aspects of marriage that are HARD.

You know what can make it a little harder? Deployments.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met some people that enjoy deployments and who don’t struggle at all during them. Which is a-maz-ing!

And I do understand aspects of it that can actually feel enjoyable or empowering. You maybe enjoy the break from your partner, or enjoy the independence that it can bring. I’ve definitely felt this way here and there during our military journey.

But one thing that has always remained as we navigate our marriage during deployments is at some point dealing with disconnect.

There’s so many barriers in the way when you are thousands of miles away from the person who’s supposed to be who you walk through life with. Barriers that make it feel less like a partnership.

Communication is an obvious barrier especially if your spouse is deployed somewhere with limited or no internet access/ability to call or text.

I’ve also always struggled with time changes. We pretty much live on opposite schedules during deployment. My night is my husbands morning and vice versa. It can add to that disconnected feeling and just make things feel a little off when you are chatting/asking about each others “day” (or night!?!). Months into this deployment I still get confused about the time difference!

The hardest part of deployment for me has always been the general disconnect that you feel when you’re somewhat living separate lives for months on end. I’m used to seeing my husband every day, eating dinner together, doing bed time together, watching our kids soccer games together.

Deployments take all of those daily life activities that you want to be able to enjoy with your partner, away from you.

It leaves the spouse who is at home to deal with it alone.

And honestly, it’s led to some irritation/resentment on my end that I think adds to the disconnect. I’m not saying deployments are easier for my husband and that he hasn’t had to deal with a lot of hard work, stress and scary situations. I don’t at all want to minimize what our active duty partners go through.

But I can only speak through my perspective as a the civilian spouse & it's hard sometimes to recognize that we are living very, very different lives during this period.

When I think about it, deployments sometimes seem to just amplify the harder times in marriage. I think in any marriage you are going to have waves of ups and downs. A week, or month, (or even year +) where you are struggling. Maybe not necessarily fighting or arguing often but maybe times when you're just not as “in love” or as "into" each other.

And then there may be weeks/months where you’re blissfully happy within your marriage (okay sure probably still with an argument here and there haha). But these highs and lows seem to be slightly amplified during deployment and I have noticed can come more rapidly. We will have weeks during deployment where we are just in sync, having fun, laughing together, offering lots of words of affirmation, and then others where the texts or calls feel a little more routine or “blah” (don’t you love my fancy vocabulary? ).

Personally, those moments that feel more disconnected can cause me a lot of anxiety. But I remind myself that it’s NORMAL. And that there will be a good week to come.

And I don’t want to make it sound like every deployment is full of ups and downs or disconnect. For us, this most recent one has been a little tougher but each one has been different and sometimes the disconnect is very minimal.

I just felt compelled to share about this deployment because sometimes in the world of social media it can seem like people only share the happy, silly, loving sides of their marriages and it can feel so isolating if you are struggling or having an off week, or month or year.

All that to say, marriages have rough spots. Deployments can make those rough spots feel a little rougher.

In those moments just try to remember that it’s NORMAL. Just because things feel a little off or disconnected at times does not mean you have a bad marriage. If there is lots of love and respect for one another then it is worth getting through those bumps. Those lows have their highs and the highs bring so so so much joy.

Remember the joy.

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