Just Say It!
© Tara Crooks
A hug. A kiss. A hello or a goodbye. A smile across the room. A wink. A loving pat. A snuggle or a cuddle. Watching a movie together. Sleeping in on Sunday. Doing a project together. These are all things that are taken for granted on a daily basis when couples are together, but when they’re apart they become the things that are missed the most.
In the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman, the languages are explained as words of affirmations, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Using these five love languages applied to a military couple that is separated due to a deployment we see that only two of them are possible– receiving gifts and words of affirmation. Even those two can be hard for some to accomplish across the miles, in spite of budget constraints, or via email. Accomplishing the task of showing love and affection if you or your partner speaks one of the other three languages can be quite a challenge.
I know as a military spouse myself what it’s like to write out a three page love letter and receive a two line “sounds like you are doing good, we’re all fine here” email in return. You know it’s not their fault but at the same time you wonder why you just spent forty five minutes to get a two liner back. I know what it’s like to just want a hug, and no one else can fill in for that hug because you only want it from your spouse. I’ve had bad days where I think everything would be better if I just had my best friend there with me to understand and empathize. I also know that something as simple as mowing the lawn or taking out the trash can be an amazing token of love and that doing it yourself just doesn’t have the same effect. Things as simple as having help bathing the kids, or not being the one who is always driving are the little things that are so undervalued when your spouse is home, but believe me when they are away you know how important those things can be.
Being married ten years has taught me a lot, but nothing could teach me how to deal with separation after separation, deployment after deployment. In search of a way to keep military marriages stronger and communication lines open, I spoke with several spouses on what it means to stay connected and asked them how they did it. We all agree that we need a good healthy dose of “just say it.” Just saying it doesn’t make the time apart easier but it does allow you to express love and admiration across the miles. This is something that you and your partner both have to do in order to be successful, but it can be done.
Jessica, an Army wife of five years says, “When you can’t sleep in on a Sunday together, tell your spouse about how you wish you could. I write in a journal and share it with my husband. I tell him things like remember when we ….and when you get back we can….” You’re not getting to show your quality time together, but you are making an effort to remember those times and make sure that they happen when they return.
Susan, a brand new military spouse, says, “Like most men, my husband’s love language is physical touch. I send him care packages that appeal to this sense. Then I write him love letters that tell him how much I love him and miss him and describe what it will be like to be together again. I know I can’t be there to touch him, but he knows that I want to be and I think that helps keep the spark alive.”
Craig, a soldier for twelve years, says “My wife speaks in acts of service. Normally I would be there for her to do the lawn or paint the house but when I’m deployed I can’t be there. I make sure before I leave that most of my chores are delegated out or I had hired someone to do them. Even though I wasn’t there I took the time to show her how much I loved her by making sure those acts of service were done while I was away. I’m pretty sure it scored me some points.”
There are ways to stay connected and speak the languages of love across the miles. It
might take some forethought, effort, or planning but each of us is capable of rising to this level of communication. When you can’t be there to show it, don’t just not do anything about it. You really need to open up the lines of communication and just say it.