3 Deployments, Still Together: How We Did It

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military marriage
A military wife explains how she and her husband communicated during his three deployments.
Five years ago, my new husband, David, swallowed his tears as he tried to find a way to say goodbye. He held our baby girl to his nose, inhaled her newborn scent and searched my eyes for understanding. "You know I have to go, right?" he asked. I nodded, trying to understand his leaving, his sense of duty. I imagined that I did as I watched him walk out our kitchen door toward a war in Afghanistan, but I didn't.
 
We talked — sometimes twice a day — ignoring the popping and snapping on the line and the long delays between our voices on the Webcam. And I fooled myself into believing a two-dimensional image could transmit and sustain a three-dimensional marriage. After all, I could see his eyes, hear his laughter. But he knew nothing of what I thought about our marriage, nothing of my postpartum depression and nothing of my anger at feeling lonely in a life that he chose. How To Make Long-Distance Love Work
 
How could I look at him on the Webcam and tell his sad eyes that I felt abandoned? How would I live with myself if, God forbid, the last words he heard from me were painful truths? The pressure to keep our conversations light controlled me, and it brought our marriage to a halt. When he returned from Afghanistan, I almost left him.
 
When he began packing for his second deployment, this time to Iraq, when he held our second newborn — a son, Elijah — my chest constricted just thinking of what might happen to us. To him.
 
"Let's not make the same mistakes," he said. "No secrets this time." I nodded, even though I knew full well that, faced with the Webcam, I would again hide my fears and anger.
 
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