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One Super Easy Trick to Improve Intimacy During Deployment

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When I said goodbye to John when he headed off for a year in Afghanistan, I spent a lot of time crying. I cried almost continually on the four-hour drive home. I cried when I got home and went to bed. I cried in the shower the next morning.

The good news was that I (eventually) learned how get through deployment without crying (too much).

The bad news was that John was thousands of miles away and that, at minimum, it would be seven months before we were able to see each other face-to-face for R&R. It would be a whole year until the deployment was over.

So I replaced crying with worrying, natch.

(This is just who I am. I’ve embraced it by now.)

I wasn’t worried about if we’d make it through the deployment together. I knew we would. I knew there was no one else I’d ever want to spend my life with. I knew John was a keeper– my keeper. So the staying together part was easy.

Easy way to create a little more emotional intimacy during deployment. #military #jomygosh #ldr #longdistance #longdistancerelationship #militaryspouse #milspouse #milso #milspo #army #airforce #marines #navy #arng #nationalguard #reserves

I was worried about maintaining the same level of emotional intimacy that we had when John was on American soil. You see, John and I fell in love after initially meeting in college. (We fell in love three years after graduation, but who’s counting?) We reconnected after I wrote him a letter while he was in boot camp. He wrote one back. And then he wrote more. Letters evolved into phone calls, and those phone calls turned into four or five hour events… almost every night. We genuinely enjoyed (then and now) each other’s company.

I knew all of that would change. I knew I was going to miss that kind of closeness.

So.

Much.

I was going to miss the conversations and the laughter. I was going to miss the moments that were just between the two of us. I was going to miss the excitement of getting to see him on the weekends or the random texts he sent me.

I was going to miss that glowing, awesome feeling you get when you’re in love with someone who is amazing and makes you feel amazing just by who they are. And besides– it seemed like the year would just turn into a barren wasteland for memories. How could we make memories when we were so far away from each other? How could we deepen the relationship that we had when we lived continents apart under pretty stressful circumstances?

You know the questions and worries. You’ve probably thought at least one of them yourself.

At first, I found myself doing a lot of oversharing on social media. Everyone had to know every detail of what was happening between the two of us. Why?

I have no idea. Maybe it was a little tinge of loneliness. Maybe it was demonstrating to everyone that John still loved me. Maybe it was because I had to emote all over the place. Maybe I wanted him to feel appreciated– to publicly let him know how much his gestures meant to me.

For whatever reason I did it, it happened. And I learned something: it’s not that rewarding in the long haul. It’s fun to keep everyone in the loop, but it can feel kind of hollow, especially as the deployment wears on (“He’s still gone?”). And it doesn’t really deepen your relationship. (At least, I don’t think that it deepened ours.)

I decided to try something different.

I gave myself the opportunity and permission to have secrets from social media.

I don’t mean scary secrets that make you feel sick to your stomach. Don’t have those kinds of secrets during deployment. They’re no good.

I mean secrets that you choose to keep to yourself– not because you have to, but because you want to.

I didn’t have to Instagram every vase of flowers John sent to me. I didn’t have to screenshot the adorable texts he sometimes was able to send me.

I kept some of those things to myself so they’d just be between John and me. I know it sounds silly because I’m a blogger and I share a lot of stuff. But there are some things that are just for us– special moments that aren’t meant for social media.

Sure, it felt weird at first. And the truth is that nothing will completely fill the emotional intimacy gap that deployment creates.

By all means, share what you will, but keep a few of those special moments– the three-minute phone call where you got to hear s/he say, “I love you,” for the first time in four months, the email that found it’s way into your inbox, the in-joke between the two of you.

Hold them close to your heart and guard them. Keep them tucked away for you to remember and turn over and over on a particularly tough day. Let them warm you up on the days where you feel cold and distant. And let them be touchstones that you remember after deployment, smile, and say, “We made it through that for each other, together, and we’re better for it.”

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of MSB New Media & Unilever. The opinions and text are all mine.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of MSB New Media & Unilever. The opinions and text are all mine.


One Response

  1. I think this is a great tip for all couples not just couples who are on deployment. With social media the way it is now, so many people get caught up in it. My husband’s Love Language is words of affirmations so there are times where I will give him a shout out on social media but for the most part keeping it intimate and special make a bigger impact!

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