A note from Jocelyn: Today, the fairytale romance complete with roses and chocolates is held as the standard to which we should all compare our love lives. But real love is no fairytale. And today, I know that many of you are hurting because you don’t feel close to your spouse. This post, then, is for you.
By Melissa Fisher
I hate loneliness. Especially if you’re married, it’s like a stab in the back, then a twist of the knife.
I finally found someone to love—and who loved me, too—and danced my way through a blissful engagement and into a joyful marriage. It was what I had always wanted: To share my life with my soul mate; to do life together; to have someone by my side to help walk me through the hard times and to have that same person there to waltz with me through the good times. I was so excited to wear his ring and bear his name.
Soon after we married, we stepped into the military world. I was a doe-eyed, young wife with too much to learn. I wondered why anyone would want to sign his or her life over to such an unstable lifestyle. Even more, I wondered why my husband had to be one of these people. I didn’t realize what was happening but slowly, over several years of long workdays and TDY’s and deployments, the loneliness got to me and I grew bitter and angry over his decision to work hard and leave on multiple TDY’s. In my mind, every minute that he was gone was his decision to abandon his family. The blame rested solely on his shoulders.
Isn’t it easy to see things that way? He signed up for this, not me. He is leaving on a TDY, or deployment. He works 14-hour days. He chose to work on the weekend.
It all caught up with me when we landed in “That Year.” The year that he was gone most of the time, and multiple TDY’s were lined up just before a desert deployment. We were still in the midst of the TDY’s when I fell hard on a very depressing and cold-hearted fact: I didn’t miss him.
I was so bitter and so angry, that it was easier on my emotions for him to be gone. I decided I’d rather him be out of town than working in town on 14-hour days. I decided it was easier than working on the problems we had. My heart had grown cold to the loneliness and I just didn’t miss him. And then another reality hit me: That feeling scared me to death.
I was scared that I had given up. I was scared that, perhaps if I didn’t miss him, we wouldn’t last. I was scared that if I didn’t miss him, then maybe he didn’t miss me. We were a Christian couple. We had a church, a bible study, and godly people all around us. We knew what was right and what was wrong. Why did this have to be so hard? What was wrong with me?
This scary feeling threw me to my knees and I remember praying earnestly that God would help me work through my issues. I knew my perspective had to change. But I also knew that things weren’t going to get any easier. How could I live this life, and still find joy? How could I love my husband the way I wanted, even if I wasn’t happy with our current situation?
It didn’t happen at first, but I was determined to work this through. Every day I fell to my knees and prayed and read God’s word, sometimes struggling to get back up. I wondered when God would speak. It took a few weeks, but slowly God opened my eyes to the truth: My husband didn’t choose his career—God did. My husband didn’t send us overseas into an insane work schedule—God did. My husband didn’t choose this TDY, or the next, or the next deployment—God did. And if God is the one making the decisions, I need to take up my frustrations with him. My anger with my husband was misdirected and unfair. My husband was simply doing what God had asked him to do.
I was amazed at what happened when I took up my frustrations with God, and not my husband or the others around me. I started to realize that there is something bigger going on in the world besides my own little self. I started to realize that God’s plan—His will—was way bigger than anything I could imagine, and that God wanted my husband to play a part in this plan. And since God needed my husband to do his job and to be absent from our family, then God would—if I accepted—give me the grace and mercy and joy to handle the time away from my husband.
Even better, God’s big plan included me. It wasn’t what I had thought, but he showed me ways that he was working in my own world and how I could take part in those plans. I started to find joy in serving others. I found the grace and mercy I needed to get through my days with two small boys. By simply spending more time with God, I found the hope I needed to get back on my feet again.
I still cry when I think about that moment, several weeks later, when I realized something: I missed him. I missed my husband. And, ironically, it was the greatest feeling in the world, because I knew it meant that we were going to be okay.
I still hate loneliness. But now, when a friend tells me that she misses her husband, I try not to smile because deep down I’m really thinking, “Oh, good! They’re doing okay!”
Happy Valentine’s Day!
This article originally appeared at www.WivesinBloom.com.
Melissa Fisher loves traveling, running, working with teen moms through Young Life, and is currently working on a master’s degree in Counseling. She lives with her two young children and her husband who is an active duty member of the U.S. Air Force, and they currently live in Las Vegas. Her blogs can be found at http://fourfunfishers.wordpress.com/ and http://www.teenmombiblestudy.com.