We’ve all heard it before. “Things change.” Yeah, yeah… Two words so easy to brush off. Until they aren’t. Until they become your reality. It’s easy to logically acknowledge the words in your brain, but dealing with the day-to-day emotions of it as reality is the kicker.
What I want to know is WHY no one makes it a more prominent piece of advice? I mean, why is no one yelling this information at us before we get married? Before we go through deployments? Before we have children? I feel like this should’ve been a major theme in school my entire life. We spend all of our time working out chemical equations and trig problems, and none of our time preparing for the evolving of the people we love, and how to actually deal with it as a naturally and continuously occurring phenomenon.
Honestly… it’s been a huge reality check for me.
When I started dating my husband, we were together literally every day. I remember thinking after several months It’s just so easy! I could definitely get used to this! OK, yeah, I could definitely do this for life! Our steady personalities and set routine fed the whole concept of this-is-who-we-are-together… period. I looked into my future and saw a dual military couple, madly in love, still looking at each other all goo-goo eyed, snuggling on the couch, spooning to sleep, making good money together, and still never getting in fights……..
The reality of people changing was never so front-and-center in my life before as it was after my husband came home from his third deployment. (Yup, it took until number 3) We had become two different people living two different lives, not by choice, but by circumstance. Regardless, we were both different. We both had to become different to mentally survive. My husband changed mentally from the deployment itself. Then, he not only had to readjust from ship back to shore, but from squad bay back to household. He had to so much as relearn where things were in our home. He had to readjust back to communicating day-to-day plans with me. I changed mentally from simply having to be alone and do everything by myself. I had to adjust to someone else being in the house again, moving things around, sleeping in the bed. I had to relearn to discuss money with him, as that’s something I’d grown used to not doing anymore while he was away. I had to figure out how to involve him in Maddelyn’s and my daily flow. We both had become used to doing things without each other. We both had lived our lives apart. We naturally grew into different people than we were before.
When I was 19 years old, my parents divorced. At the time, I was a young adult, set to embark out on life, and looking around at eligible bachelors, right? and I gotta say it rocked me. Like, to my core. The two people who had been steady together all my life had changed. I watched them slowly become different people, and eventually go their separate ways. And I was left questioning everything I had always held dear. I was left wondering if love was actually a real thing… if it actually survived. I was left wondering what people are actually supposed to do when the rubber meets the road and it just gets hard.
I’ve been with my husband almost six year now. We are NOT the same people we were six years ago. We are no longer a dual-income couple. He doesn’t deploy now, but he is gone days at a time (which is harder, in a way, because now the routine is constantly shifting back and forth). I hate snuggling in bed because I feel so dang hot all the time now (a nice little bonus having children brings). He needs time to himself to decompress from work. The kids are over-stimulating. And sometimes I’m grateful for the argument we just had because at least we communicated in one way or another today.
But on days when it just gets hard, you know what always brings us back to center?
We find one thing—just one. One commonality. One reason. One word. One prayer.
Just one thing to hang on to until the weather clears up, and we are able to navigate toward a renewed direction. We find a lighthouse. And once the clouds roll away, everything becomes clear all over again. Everything becomes clear all over again, plus now everything’s been washed by the rain.
As time goes on, and as we all experience different things as people, we are naturally evolving and growing. Life is always happening. He’s going to go through things without you. You’re going to go through things without him. You’ll both become different as you go. Know it’s going to happen. Know that it’s okay.
Love is stronger. Growing is good. You can figure it back out. You will find each other again. And…
Love does survive.
If you’re reading this and you feel like you’re coming off a deployment, handling a broken marriage,
or simply just hanging on in general, remember this…
People have changed. People are changing. And people will change again in the future.
It’s true for all of us. How reality looks like right now, bad or good, is not going to be reality forever. The water is always flowing, always moving. Be patient. You’re the captain, and you steer the ship regardless of the tides.
So if it’s rough, hold steady.
If it’s good, stay your course.
And always find your Lighthouse together.
The tides will change, and the water will calm again soon.