This is CaliValleyGirl, another one of Army Wife's Helpers, and she asked me to write something about Reunion, the blissful period I am currently in. (For that matter, I wonder when the reunion period actually ends. Or is it that since deployments are pretty regular now, that you are always either in “deployed,” “pre-deployment” and “post-deployment” status?)
Deployment is the best couples therapy.
Know that saying: “Don't sweat the small stuff?” When your partner is deployed, you really get a sense of what is important. What it absolutely vital in a relationship, and you are able to identify the small stuff pretty quickly. And also like the saying says: ...”And it's all small stuff.”
Your relationship is bare-bones, down to pure verbal or written communication. There is no more movie dates, no more physical contact, no more daily chatter, none of all the fun stuff. Nothing to distract you from the essence. This is make it or break it time.
And when you are reunited, you realize that everything else is just whipped cream and cherries on top. Suddenly everything and all time spent together is seen as a wonderful luxury. Just sitting on the sofa watching TV together, or being able to yell from one room and hear the voice of the other from down the hall...pure bliss.
Also before he deployed, when I would go visit him, I would feel like we HAD to do something together, like go for a walk, go into town, see a movie, etc. Being together was something that had to be actively worked at. I would say that I have become less insecure about our relationship, because it was tested by the deployment and made it. Now, like mentioned above, just sitting together in the same apartment is considered "together time."
Conflict is dealt with a lot easier, too. You learn how to deal with conflict a lot better during a deployment, because you don't have a lot of time to communicate with your partner, and you want to resolve conflict as quickly as possible, because no matter what, you always have the nagging thought, that it could possibly be the last time you communicate with your loved one. You just don't have the luxury of dragging an argument out for as long as possible. Also, upon closer examination, most reasons of conflict fall under the “small stuff” category, and post deployment rarely make it to the conflict stage.
That is not to say that my boyfriend and I needed couples therapy before he left, however, I do think that our relationship actually benefited more from our separation, than was harmed. I personally definitely learned a lot of relationship tools.
I definitely learned to appreciate my boyfriend a lot more. All the things that would have potentially bothered me before, bother me less...or even make me smirk or smile. I am not saying I have become a connoisseur of my boyfriend's farts, but almost. If that it is the sweet smell of him being home, so be it.