To my civvy friends

To my civvy friends,

First of all I need to say thank you. Thank you for being there for me when I was doing my first deployment and doubting if Popeye would still fancy me when he came back. Reassuring me when I had worries about if I could do this navy life lark, and turning up with a clinking carrier bag and packet of twenty. 

Thank you for being there during all the other deployments when I leant on you for support, when I needed an emergency buddy at A&E, when the car broke down and I needed help. For sending round your partner to mow the lawn when I was by myself with Sweetpea. For answering the phone when I was in tears from watching Christmas adverts.

Now for the apologies. And an explanation. 

I’m sorry that as soon as Popeye has leave I go to ground. I’m less reliable than a Flake. I don’t text back. I forget plans. I cancel plans and I am so vague about making plans until the last minute. 

Please don’t take this personally. I still love you and need your friendship. I’m not ditching you. I think or rather I hope you understand this.

If you don’t then maybe our friendship isn’t strong enough to survive one of us being a military spouse. And my marriage will always come first. 

My time with Popeye is so precious. And since we became parents it is even more so. When he’s home we are in our own bubble and we never know what we want to do day to day. Except to be together. As much as possible. Even when we start to annoy each other.

Because of this we don’t make plans. When he’s home I find it hard to socialise and not be a bit unhinged. We might do a longstanding birthday party or a few spur of the moment meet ups, but, in general we are, and will continue to be selfish.  

 

When he has leave it is our one chance to put us first, possibly all year. 

Our relationship might need alone time desperately, not just rudey times but quality time. 

We need time together to get to know each other again. We’ve both changed whilst he’s been away and we need time to date, to flirt and then to become a functioning couple again. Whenever he comes back it feels weird to even kiss him or have him close to me for a few days. It’s a good kind of weird but it still takes a while to get used to it.

We need to create memories. All the missed birthdays and anniversaries have to be compensated for in a few short weeks during the summer and possibly Easter. Christmas is usually filled with family visits and as such is so mentally busy we hardly see each other. Besides he’s never had all 3 bouts of leave in a year since I’ve known him. So we use these precious few days to treat ourselves and spoil each other. Because we don’t know when our next opportunity will be.

Sometimes our time apart has really tested us. We need time to resolve any issues that have come up whilst we’ve been apart. This is not something we can do in a public/social arena. We need to be at home, talking and finding our way back to normal. 

We need to get practical. As you know I try to carry on as “normal” when he’s away but there are always projects or plans saved for leave. This can be because only he can do them or because I feel only he should do them.

Like putting together his daughters new bedroom furniture because he missed her birth and first 6 months of her life. Like decorating the house so it feels like it’s his home too, and so he can find out where everything is kept in the kitchen before we have that big summer BBQ. Because he hasn’t been here since before we moved house and he would be mortified if a guest asked him where something was and he didn’t know. In short we need time for him to feel at home. 

I hope you accept my apologies because we won’t be changing. And I hope you accept my thanks because I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for being my civvy friend and balancing out the madness and giving me a reality check of how it’s supposed to be. Thank you for your perspective. 

I hope you understand why I am the way that I am.

All my love,

A military spouse, or partner.

Xxxxxx

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Socialising and trying not to be mental.

I think being a navy wife has made me slightly unbalanced. Please feel free to judge me, because I feel quite guilty about it, even though I am actively trying to remain stable and rational.

Especially when I compare me, in my time-greedy-navy-wife marriage to “everyone else” and their civvy-wholesome-sensible relationships.

Let me explain a bit,

Popeye is generally away for six/seven months, then home for about 3 out of 4 weekends a month the rest of the year, bar lovely lovely leave. So suffice to say, our time together is precious. (This time of course does not include time apart for effing BOST, Super-Annoying-Promotion courses of Stress And Grumpiness, or SAPSAGs for short or any other ridiculous and possibly pointless jaunts around the home waters).

(As a side note I once calculated the actual number of days per year we would spend together, including summer and Easter leave. All I can say is DONT DO IT. Deployment Maths is evil and led to me having a massive cry and freaking out about how we were ever going to make this marriage work. Not a good idea mid deployment, or anytime for that matter.)

Without fail on those precious Fridays he can actually come home ( crazy idea I know) at approximately 4pm our world is paused and our metaphorical drawbridge goes up.

We hole up in our house and because a)he’s a chef b) I don’t want to leave his side for more than 10mins to shower/pee, we order takeaway and totally veg out. Then we spend the remainder of the weekend hiding from friends and relatives and generally being lazy, spending money we don’t have and eating out, a lot.

We do venture out from time to time and actually see other people, and when we do I have to remind myself to share. Share my husbands company that is.

I restrain myself from standing on the edge of the circle of guys talking about football and cars and simply strain my ears trying to eavesdrop from the girls circle, only vaguely listening to our conversation, and replying with vague “mmm hmm’s”, “yeah I know” and “no way”‘s as appropriate. This has back fired on me several times when I’ve said something like “yeah I know” to someone’s horrible bad/ serious news like their dog died or they’ve lost their job or they think they might be gay. There are times when I gravitate over to where hubster is and laugh a split second too late at a joke I haven’t really heard. Awkward.

If someone dares to say that we should split up for a bit during a night out, i.e boys go to a different bar, girls will catch up later, I get a bit of a sicky feeling, and I start doing Deployment Maths (Deployment Maths is a bit like OCD, so when this happens on a night out with friends you can’t help but calculate that out of the 48 hours he’s home for, he will spend 16 sleeping/being hungover, 8-12 hours socialising, you will spend x hours going to/from said friends house therefore leaving you with approximately 5 hours together all weekend. And he’s not home for another month.)

I KNOW how totally clingy and mental this makes me sound, I’m a trained psychologist remember, however, I am at the merciless grip of Deployment Maths. My only defence is that in these cases I don’t let the panic get me. I smile, wave goodbye to Popeye and quickly order a double, hey if he’s getting those 16 hours, I might as well too.

Popeye copes much better at social gatherings such as the above than I do. He is chatty to everyone, to the point where he’s sharing stories from life on board that I haven’t even been told. It’s like finding out about this whole side of him he doesn’t think is all that relevant or interesting when he’s home and we are hiding with the home phone off the hook.

If your sailor, like mine, literally sends a variation of the same email every day week for 6 months, these escapades and anecdotes of daring do’s and hilarious scrapes from deployment can leave you feeling, well, quite surprised and then miffed to be honest. Popeye literally sends this email to me 80% of the time whilst deployed, ahem:

hey baby, nothing much is going on here, same old stuff. I miss you loads and I can’t wait to see you, all my love, Popeye.

Every email. For 6 months. Seriously.

This has led me to conclude that he either-forgets about these adventures on the high seas/around the globe, can’t be bothered to tell me, or doesn’t have time to email me the details. To this day, I still have no idea which of these theories is true. I’m leaning towards the former as its not so depressing.

So when my super-sonic-social-gathering hearing picks up on how he stole a giant fish from a bar in New York and they got pulled over by the police with said giant fish in the back of their car, or how his friend broke his collar bone trying to do a breakdancing move in Norway or whatever, I am just a tad peeved.

Is it wrong that I feel a pang of jealousy that Popeye doesn’t share these stories with me when we’re sitting at home watching tv and snuggling on the sofa? Or is it that he doesn’t feel they are important enough to waste our precious paradigm phonecall minutes on? I’m not one to disapprove, in fact I think it’s bloody hilarious the stuff him and his shipmates get up to, so that can’t be it. No, it’s more likely that when he’s home he, and I, mentally “shut off” the outside world, including navy dits, bills, report writing or visiting my grandparents.

When he phones home its for a bit of escapism from what generally is drudgery day to day on the ship. He wants to hear about what he misses, not relive another day apart, no matter how much fun he’s had. Rather wait until he’s been home, had some downtime with the drawbridge up, then go out and entertain. My husband the social butterfly who just wants to come home and forget all about work. Until he’s got an audience. Bless him.