Airmen find ways to cope with marriage separation

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Stacey Haga
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
"Soldiers' divorce rates up sharply," a USA Weekly headline reads. Due to the war on terror and longer deployments, more military couples are calling it quits, reports say.

It's hard being away from the one you love and even harder when there is nothing you can do about it.

I'm a newlywed and even though my husband and I have a great relationship, hearing about the divorce statistics is enough to make me want to panic.

Neither one of us is deployed currently, but I know what it feels like to be apart from my partner for an extended amount of time. We live more than a thousand miles away from each other, 1,029.26 miles door-to-door to be exact.

We were married Feb. 10, two weeks before I moved to Tyndall, leaving my husband, Derrick, behind at Tinker AFB, Okla. To this date, we are still waiting for our join-spouse application to be approved and reunite us.

I understand why it's taking so long. The military is going through very big changes right now. There is nothing more we can do except wait.

It can feel hopeless at times. I've spent several evenings crying about it. But the important thing is we are still doing well.

To keep the spark going, we have gotten creative. It's one of the only things you can do when you are apart.

Of course, we call each other every day, even if it's a quick call to say "I love you." But, the regular phone calls have become like dates for us. We always talk in the evening, right when the free calling time starts. I know when he's going to call me, so I always make sure my schedule is clear when he calls -- no distractions. It's just me and him.

He also calls me sometimes just to say "I love you," before I go to bed. Those phone calls make me smile even when I am at my lowest.

We also forward each other funny e-mails, it's quick and easy, but it lets us know we are thinking of each other throughout the day.

We send pictures to each other. Call me crazy, but it's almost as good as getting to see him in person. I also have pictures of him at work, home and even on my phone.

We sometimes send each other thoughtful gifts. We visited each other in Atlanta recently and went to a Braves game. We had so much fun that day, so I had a mouse pad made with a picture of us at the game on it. Now when he is on the computer, he is reminded of the times we do get to see each other.

It's not always about the material things though. I've learned first-hand marriage is a lot about attitude. Couples need to have the right attitude to get them through the lonely times when they are apart.

He taught me we can't get upset over our situation because we have done everything we can. Eventually, even if it is March 2008, when he separates from the military, we will be back together.

I taught him even though our situation looks bleak, never give up hope we will get stationed together.

The attitude to have is trust. Trust your spouse and give him every reason to trust you. I've learned trust can keep a lot of unnecessary arguments from happening.

I've often questioned why would someone let this happen to us, does anyone care, do they want us to fail? I've even blamed myself for it. After all, it was my decision to retrain into a different career field.

But regardless of why we are apart, one thing has become evident to me -- the cliché "absence makes the heart grow fonder" is true in our relationship. I thought I loved him before we moved apart, but that was "child's play" compared to the love I have for him now.

Maybe the most important lesson is something I have started to learn now and will continue to learn the rest of my life. I've learned to appreciate the time I do get to spend with my husband and not spend it nit-picking the things I don't care for about him.

And I hope that is something I will remember when we are growing old together, because personally, I don't feel like we are going to become a statistic. I've learned to put that panic aside.