DH has been gone on a range exercise for just over a week, and he'll be gone for a bit yet. Soon he'll be gone for 30 days heading towards actual deployment. Getting through this week sucked, and it was an all too strong reminder of what it's going to be like when he's gone. Last time he was deployed we weren't married, and we weren't even living together, so that deployment was not as bad as this one will be. Although that one seemed pretty awful to me at the time, so I'm dreading this one
But I did get to see him for about an hour yesterday before he went back out into the field after coming in to get his first shower in five days. And for the last bit of time we had left we didn't even speak. He was sitting with me in the car and he leaned into me and put his head on my shoulder and I put my arms around him and just held him. I thought about all the times I won't be able to do that when he's deployed and I hugged him tighter, as if I could store up hugs for him to bring overseas with him so that whenever he needed some comfort or some strength he'd have those hugs.
Even though there were a million household things I wanted to bring up and personal issues I wanted to talk about I didn't say a word because in that moment I finally understood on a gut level one of the fundamental truths of what a marriage really is about - loving someone else more than you love yourself and putting their needs ahead of yours. We all know that you're supposed to put your partner's needs ahead of your own, but when was the last time you did? When was the last time you stopped keeping score of who has given up what and just gave freely what your partner needed just because they needed it?
I think we are conditioned by culture, especially as wives, to constantly be analyzing our relationship and judging our partners against an arbitrary scorecard to make sure that we are getting what we need out of the relationship. I know I often feel pressure from friends, from family and even from culture to look at every action or inaction by my husband as a measure of his love for me.
But at that moment, when I was hugging him and feeling how tired he was I didn't care whether he really listened to what I said about the car payment or if he had signed the lease renewal I asked him to sign last week. I just wanted to give him as much strength and comfort as I could so that he could go back to practicing the skills that will save lives when he's in combat. And as he headed back to his squadron and I drove off post I wasn't thinking about the hours I would waste in Friday afternoon traffic getting home, or the money I spent on food and other comforts for him to bring back into the field with him. I was just glad that I got one more chance to hug him and kiss him and tell him that I loved him.
There are days when the insights about love and marriage and relationships that can only come from the pressures of loving someone who puts their lives on the line daily feel like gifts of grace from God, or the Universe, or whatever you choose to name it and there are some days that they feel like small razor cuts to the heart because they come with a terribly high price.