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  • Writer's pictureLeila Gillette

Understanding Resentment When Your Spouse is Away

This is a blog that has been hard to start writing. For a lot of reasons. One being that I just don’t really like to think on this subject or have the negativity of it present in my mind. One is that it’s a feeling that can feel intense when my partner is away, but a feeling that mostly disappears when he is home. One may be that I am somewhat ashamed of having these feelings, knowing it’s not necessarily healthy and a feeling I would really like to have less of. But despite all of these things, I feel it is so so important to talk about because I realize how much it also affects others & hearing from so many people that have dealt with the same thing has helped me so much to not feel alone in it.

No matter the circumstance, your spouse having to leave can really suck. Deployments ae hard, TDY’s can be hard. Other trainings or reasons they are pulled away due to the military can be hard. With that hardness and a lot of the “holding down the fort” stuff that can come along with being a military spouse can come resentment. I am still not sure if it is a resentment towards my spouse, or the military or maybe a little of both. I think part of why I feel slightly ashamed of feeling resentment is because it is not equal across the board with each time he is away. It can very much depend on what type of deployment or TDY’s my partner is on. I am going to preface this with saying I never want my partner to be unhappy, or to not enjoy their time away or have people to enjoy it with. A big fear of talking about this is people thinking I am coming from a place of bitterness or “misery loves company”. I promise you that isn’t where my heart is in this. I love my partner and wouldn't ever like the idea of them feeling sad, lonely, scared, exhausted, etc. etc. etc. while they are away.

BUT despite me knowing that that is where my head and heart are, resentment can still come. My spouse has had deployments that are incredibly hard, or dangerous, or lonely. But he has had deployments that can, at times during it, seem a little more like vacation mode, with ability to travel around and visit amazing places with people he becomes friends with. This has definitely been the rare occasion for him for deployments, primarily my struggles and feelings of resentment have come more with shorter trainings and TDY’s. Trips that he goes on that while I know have purpose behind them…. can seem to entail a smaller amount of work then usual and bigger amount of eating out at restaurants, bar hopping, sightseeing & other activities with a built in group of friends. And this can feel really really crappy when you are on the other side of that. When you are working, taking care of kids, trying to keep the house clean, making sure the dogs are fed, and that everyone gets to their activities and dinner is on the table while maybe having 30 minutes at night to relax yourself. And then during those 30 minutes when you talk on the phone with your husband, you hear all about the cool things they saw, and ate, and drank, with the fun group of people they are with. And please understand, most often I am excited for him. And love to see all of the pictures of the food he ate and cool things he saw. But there is also that voice in the back of my head where even though I know it wasn’t necessarily his choice to go on this trip, and I know that he shouldn’t be sitting in his hotel room the whole time, that voice can still tell me that this feels a little unfair. Now don’t get me wrong, I have gone on a few girls trips and my husband has been more then supportive about those, but in the 12 years of military life I have probably been on 3-4 trips away from home by myself. The “funner” TDY’s and deployments my husband has been on are way more than I can count on 2 hands. So it can feel unfair, and it can cause me to feel annoyance and resentment during these trips towards my spouse. And I really really don’t like feeling that way. I wish I could say I have some wonderful tools and ideas for how I have dealt with it and how to make it get better, but that unfortunately is mostly not true.

Some things have helped, yes. Communication with my spouse and verbalizing how it can feel helps, it has given him more of an understanding of my mindset when he is away and allows him to be gentler in his communication and give reassurance when needed. Having a couple fun things to look forward to when he is away also helps, even if that’s just dinner with another spouse who’s husband is also gone, or booking a nail appointment or massage. Trying to make the week during the TDY (or maybe 1 week or 1 month out of a longer deployment) a period to focus on enjoying my kids and prioritizing some quality mom time has been helpful. Making a point to enjoy slower evenings, or easier dinners, or a chick flick with my daughters, can make that time feel a little more meaningful. These things can help, but they haven’t cured me of feeling resentment unfortunately.

Again, I know this isn’t a great mindset, I know it can at times seem toxic and it is something I truly am conscious of and work to not put too much of it on my spouse. But it is there. It is one of those things that can be part of navigating life as a military spouse. And I never want anyone to feel alone in that feeling, or feel like they can’t talk about it. Sharing these struggles with your friends, your therapist, your partner, or whoever it is you trust to share with can be a huge piece of working through it. I am sorry I don’t have a magic answer for how to fix it or even a perfect answer on why we feel this way. But as tough as it can be, there are a million other amazing things about being a Military spouse, about marriage, about life. I hope for me and others these harder moments and feelings we navigate when our spouse is away doesn’t take away from all the amazing ones.

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