Before I say anything else, let me say that I love my husband. Deep down, from the gut, head over heels, the Beast-loves-Belle, kind of love. I love the obviously loveable things about him (dude’s got great calves), and I love the not as loveable (his B.O. and the way it sounds when he snores). For the months that we spent apart during deployment, all I wanted was for us to be together. I would see other couples doing couple things, and I’d wish that Stephen and I could do couple things. Or I’d see couple’s fighting, and I would swear that Stephen and I would never be like those people.
When my brother and his fiance moved in together, I remember them talking about some of the growing pains that come with learning to live with someone for the first time. I listened to the little hiccups they were experiencing and I thought to myself, “If Stephen was here, I wouldn’t care about his dirty clothes on the floor or the dishes that he would leave in the sink! They just wouldn’t matter!” (Before our marriage became long distance, those were my two big pet peeves.)
Fast forward to July. Stephen is home, dirty clothes are on the floor, and my distaste for those dirty clothes has not magically evaporated. I have way, way more patience when it comes to crap like that then I did previously, but let’s be real, I have some OCD tendencies. Those things don’t just poof! go away.
It seems to me that there is a cultural narrative around being separated from a loved one. It goes something along the lines of, “You love each other. You are tortured by being apart. You are blissfully reunited. All is right with the world. You live happily ever after!” Maybe that’s true of some people, but that’s not true of us. (Even our blissful reunion was stressful; it was so reassuring to read in the comments that other people had similar experiences.)
Life is messy (as is our bedroom at the moment). Emotions are tangled and complicated. People have quirks. Just because we spent a lot of time apart, it doesn’t mean that it is all sunshine and rainbows at the Army Amy household.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s mostly sunny with many rainbows. And we are pretty darn blissful as of late. And even when it sucks, it’s better than being apart. But togetherness does not equal perfection. We’ve been together for almost 11 years. I gave up on perfection around year 3.
Since Stephen has been home:
- We have fought
- I have cried out some deployment stress (even though, yes, the deployment is over)
- he has left dirty clothes on the floor
- I left a wash cloth on the shower faucet
- he has driven like a maniac
- I have dramatically clutched my chest like a grandma when he drives
- We have debated (intensely) who killed JFK. (I know I’m right and he’s wrong on this one!)
- I have crushed the illusion of my ladylikeness by letting loose some monster farts
- Stephen has let his dirty dishes sit in the sink
I guess this is what “happily ever after” is alluding to, dirty dishes and stinky farts.
During a deployment (or any time apart) it’s easy to put each other up on a pedestal. That, however, does a disservice to both of us. We are real people with real faults. And we need to learn (and re-learn) how to live with each other and make the best of it.
July has treated us pretty well, but part of that is because we know this is temporary. (Germany reclaims my husband within the week.) When we live together permanently again (soon, I hope!), I am bracing myself for more growing pains and more ”happily ever after.”
What’s your take on happily ever after? Does it exist? What does your partner do that drives you bananas? Or vise versa? Is it really that bad? (I’ll admit it, the dirty clothes on the floor thing really isn’t a big deal; it just bugs me and I can’t help but be annoyed by it)*