J and I have started to settle into a routine with our communication. Week night conversations generally go about an hour, then longer on the weekends, timed out around the studying and workouts and church. And I love it. I love the constant flow of information. The back and forth. That’s just my personality. I can, on occasion, be a little needy. So, the ability to constantly be in touch makes me happy. And that’s the key point – the ability. I have, at any moment, at least one way to have a quick interaction with J.
What we’ve learned is that, for us at least, there are some serious down sides to constantly being in touch with someone.
First, due to the fact that he’s military, simply by nature of his job, we won’t always have the ability to speak. Nope – not even phone calls. And just based off the times he has had to go away for hiking/camping trips and how straight up miserable I am, when we are constantly in contact, and then all of a sudden aren’t anymore? It’s so much more difficult. Because now I can’t just pick up the phone and say whatever meaningless tidbit I have in my brain.
Then there’s the fact that when we can talk constantly, we start to take for granted the fact that the other person isn’t here. So, we end up filling up the conversation with useless conversations. Again – I love that. But it drives J crazy. I love hearing about his day – interactions with his friends and roommate, what the other guys are like, even his PT scores. It makes me feel included, or at least like I have an idea of what’s going on in his life. But I’m realizing he’s right – we’re just having ‘filler’ conversation. I’m taking for granted the fact that he’s carved out an hour of his very busy day to talk to me.
And finally, the filler conversation leads to a lot of unhappiness. If I’m being honest, it’s on both ends. I think I’m having real conversation, but I’m not really connecting to him on any level. Because of the ease of picking up the phone – we can even talk ‘face to face’ – we end up feeling like we had legitimate interaction, but truthfully haven’t gotten to really get connected. And the conversations that we do have aren’t meaningless, but they aren’t as meaningful as they could be.
What we’ve decided to attempt to try is start out by having a day where we don’t talk on the phone that night. I use it to write a letter to him, and he uses it to study and take time to send me an email. And we walk away having not talked for the night, but still having done something for one another. Actually building intentional connection. Maybe we’ll work in having more time where we don’t – he’ll have to step up studying more often.
It all comes down to finding that balance. Do I think we’ll be that couple who only sends letters and has a once a month phone call when it’s not necessary? Probably not. But I’m learning that we can’t be the couple that has a live feed either. It doesn’t work for either of us.
We’re lucky to be able to prep ourselves for a deployment by using this distance to ‘practice’ before he’s in harms way. Yep – we’re still messing it up. I bother him, and let myself get too needy, and he sometimes get’s too busy and exhausted to have a conversation. But, what I’m hoping that even having this conversation will do is set us up for that inevitable deployment. Where we’ll be one of the couples that uses the distance to strengthen ourselves and each other – not let it destroy us.