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Friday, 17 July 2015

'Divorce was thrown back and forth, becoming the trump card of threats'

'Divorce was thrown back and forth, becoming the trump card of threats' 
- How Relate saved my military marriage

He and I did things very quickly. We had our first date a few days after meeting, became engaged 
on a frosty Christmas morning a few months later and married whilst pregnant the following year. 
In the first eighteen months of marriage, we relocated with the military three times. It had been a whirlwind of wedding, morning sickness, work trips, packing, un-packing, hellos and goodbyes, births, becoming parents and yet more packing and unpacking. 
In the first couple of months, I threw myself into being the best darn housewife you could 
shake a tin of furniture polish at. The house gleamed and smelt of shake ’n vac, the dog 
was walked, cakes were baked, meals were prepared and Baby was happy and content, 
sleeping through the nights allowing He and I to eat dinner together most nights with a glass of wine. I smiled a lot. Because why wouldn’t I? It was all rather pretty on the outside.
"In the first couple of months I threw myself into being the best darn housewife you could shake a tin of furniture polish at."
What I wasn’t prepared to contend with was the resentment bubbling and fizzing inside me 
from my chest to the darkest depths of my soul. The finality of leaving MY job, MY city, MY friends, MY lifestyle. Where was MY medal?! Where was MY parade?! 
The fear of never, ever being able to identify with myself as a financially independent, ambitious, awesome, sexy woman again took my inner breath away. 
One sweltering late summer’s day, this all came convulsing out, spewing like hot lava 
from within -  frothing with anger and hurt and bitterness and resentment. The fury was unleashed. The injustice I had been feeling let itself known with an almighty roar. I missed having 
my own money, I missed my friends, I missed my spontaneity, I missed feeling important, 
I missed my soul feeling full of life, buzzing with excited energy and endless possibilities. 
The storm thundered through the balmy afternoon until the cool early evening, 
ending in a pile of heaving shoulders and panting, gasping sobs. We spent the night apart. 
The following day was one of mourning, for the both of us. It felt like the end. 
We had been, in one moment, best friends, giggling, sharing, dreaming – now, we were strangers who followed a daily routine, digging themselves deeper into the dark, musty rut.
Divorce was thrown back and forth, becoming the trump card of threats, until one day 
He and I took a leap of faith in each other, bound by the love for Baby, and found our saving grace: Relate Counselling.
The hour we spent with our Relate counsellor was the safest I had felt in a long time. 
My shoulders dropped and my face lost its pinched look. She mediated our conversations 
so that the end result was that we could both confidently lay bare our souls without getting defensive and flouncing out as had previously happened when we had attempted drunken self-counsel. 
"The hour we spent with our Relate counsellor was the safest I had felt in a long time."
She prompted with questions and acknowledged when each of us made valid points or contributions. It felt wonderful to have someone acknowledge that we were going through a rough patch 
and validated our thoughts and that it was so, utterly, completely normal.
Our arguments were normal and the topics of arguments were normal. 
My feelings of inadequateness and anxiety were normal. His feelings of regret and financial burdens were normal. Our fears and judgement were normal. Becoming a military wife does essentially mean losing a bit of yourself, because your life centres around your husband, his work and his priorities. NORMAL. She reminded us that it was Thursday, not Doomsday! 
What wasn’t normal was the lack of communication. Talk, people! 
Neither of us knew what the other felt, which is strange when you trust that person enough 
to take their name and create a new life with them, but out of fear of upsetting the boat 
you cannot have a chat about how you feel … or don’t feel?!
"Not only did I feel as if I could see my best friend again, but we also realised that we had to stop blaming each other for the current state of our relationship."
That damp Thursday evening walking away from the therapist’s office, we turned a corner, 
quite literally, into the closest pub for a nerve settling vino blanco. But figuratively too - not only did I feel as if I could see my best friend again, but we also realised that we had to stop blaming 
each other for the current state of our relationship 
and more importantly I had to stop blaming Him for my unhappiness. 
As much as the adjustment to becoming a military wife has been - and will continue to be – epic,
it has also dawned on me that I’ve been gifted the freedom and security to become whomever I want. Life is a long, luscious, exciting journey and you don’t have to fulfil all of your dreams immediately. 
It is a relief when you finally realise that. The anxiety in your soul dissipates.
For now, I’m working on being content with the fact that for the next few years 
I want to immerse myself in our Baby’s exploration of this wonderful world and fill our existence 
with adventures and stories and bubbles in the bath and nourishing our minds and bodies 
with good news and good food. And most importantly, so much laughter.

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