(Almost) Together at Last:
Just over three years ago I told my girlfriend, a girl I had only met three times before—and over a two-year span—that I loved her. After she reciprocated, we only saw each other a half dozen times each year, at most. Our relationship was based on upgrading our cell phone plans to include unlimited texting, late night web-cam “dates,” and taping TV shows so we could watch them “together” over the phone.
When I proposed and we were engaged, she decided to move in with me, which required her to quite literally pick up her entire life and move cross-country from New Mexico to Georgia to be with me. Shortly after she moved in with me though, she flew back to New Mexico to plan our wedding. A few months later we were wed in front of our family and friends; we became husband and wife—no more his and hers—and promised to be with each other forever. Life was great.
Living with an awesome (and amazing and beautiful) woman puts your life on a whole new level. It was great having her there all the time. Together, we would cook breakfast and dinner and eat in our backyard under our canopy; we explored our new town and went out on real dates. We would watch our favorite TV shows while lounging next to each other, instead of over long-distance phone lines. We were in a great groove, and spent our time building a life together. We had a pizza week (where we made pizza from scratch every day for an entire week); we welcomed a puppy into our family, built a garden, and then rebuilt the garden while teaching our pup that it's bad to eat our newly-planted veggies. Again, life was wonderful.
All of this bliss was, of course, short lived. We had spent just over two months together—the longest we’ve spent together in our entire relationship—before I got orders to deploy to Qatar. I'm in the Air Force and it is part of our lifestyle to leave everything you know and love for months, or even years at a time, and live in a remote, closed-off base in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, the amenities we have at this base—free WiFi, a swimming pool, and even a coffee shop—makes life bearable, but it's still a far, far cry from home and spending time with my wife.
This is our second deployment (our first came during our first year of dating), but this one has been a lot harder on both of us. It's a disconcerting feeling to be so far away from each other and have no way to affect anything going on back home. Everything bad that can happen inevitably will, and no matter how much you prepare, there is always something (or several things) you forget to do before you leave.
My wife got a nail in her tire, and I wasn't there to fix it. She had a bad day, and I couldn't pour her a glass of wine and give her a back rub to make her worries melt away. Even the simple stuff like randomly giving her a kiss, or making her breakfast in bed wasn’t possible. And if our schedules are off by more than a few hours, we can’t talk for several days at a time.
Knowing that we have only been married for a very short time, and that we’ve been separated for the majority of time—not by choice—is a very strange feeling. Honestly you don’t know how it will affect your marriage till you go through it. Some couples make it through 20 years of deployments, while some can’t make it through two. I love my job, so it’s important that I’ve always been honest and upfront with my wife about the realities of my job, which has helped. Communicating with each other as much as possible has been an important factor in our relationship from day one. Also, she’s extremely patient and understanding, and realizes that I really never want to leave her, but that it’s just part of the job.
But for now, I’m trying to use this time away to my advantage. When I’m not flying I lock myself in my room and work on getting my master’s degree and on finishing up my Air Force classes. I make the time pass by running miles and miles every day to keep in shape. I’m doing all of this so once I get home I can spend my time relaxing with my wife and enjoy the life of a newlywed before I have to leave her again.
Editor's Note: Kenny Sutherland is the fabulous new husband of YourLifeIsATrip.com contributor Jessica Lynn. For the full wedding story, see Jessica's earlier article Married to the Military. Life truly is a trip and we're thrilled you two brought the romance to us. Congratulations and best wishes!
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