The cold shoulder
One of the hardest things to maintain, and usually one of the first things that falls apart in a relationship is communication. Whenever we get upset with someone, we are often quick to give the cold shoulder, and bed down next to each other without saying our routine “goodnight”, or the “I love you” – but why? Not speaking to the person we care about most is the exactopposite of what we should do when times are rough. However, if you’re like me, this can sometimes feel like one of the hardest things you could possibly do.
The TDY Backburner
In the military community, having to go on temporary duty status (TDY) usually causes several mixed emotions in the household. Much of this is because of how easy it is to lose focus when you are removed from what’s most important to you, and are required to perform exceptionally well for a school, job, or any other task that you can think of. Going on TDY usually involves you having to go out of town, staying for a period of a few days to a few weeks, and typically requires more than one person – so naturally, once the job is done, people are going to want to hang out, and talk about their experiences.
My most recent experience with going on TDY was attending the United States Army Drill Sergeant School, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t on my best behavior. After class was over, I’d study, do some exercise, and then go out to have dinner with my friends. Initially this was ok, until the dinner bill started stacking up; the phone calls home were less frequent; and what should have been my main priority (my wife and kids) had been placed on the TDY back burner. This, my friends, was no Bueno!
The end result was a very cold atmosphere to say the least. Conversations were awkward, car rides were often too quiet, and I had a hard time enjoying my family, mainly because I felt like such a dirt-bag for treating them this way. This was especially true when I could see just how much my boys had missed me, THEY WERE ALL OVER ME! My wife, however, was not the happiest.
Why she is better than me
The awkwardness continued for a few more days, and we eventually hit somewhat of a breaking point. That is when my wife did something that probably saved our relationship, and showed me exactly how dedicated she was to me as a wife.
In the past, we have been blessed with the opportunity to attend many marriage seminars at the expense of the military. My wife and I would volunteer to go to these as often as we could – we both seemed to understand the importance of educating yourself of how to keep a marriage strong. One of the tools that we picked up at these seminars was shared to us by another couple. Whenever these two would have problems communicating, they would buy a card at the store, and write a message to their spouse stating why they loved them that day. When they were done, they would hide the card somewhere creative so that at some point throughout the day, the other person would find it, and be reminded of how the other felt about them. This would do several things:
• It opened lines of communication between the couple
• It would brighten up the persons day
• It shows that the person leaving the message is actually WILLING to put forth some effort toward strengthening the relationship
Often times, that little bit of extra effort is all that your relationship needs!
“The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.”- unknown
We actually kept this card to use as a reminder of how bad things can get, and that with dedication, even the TOUGHESTof times can be worked through! (We’ll post an update with a photo for you in the future)
So, if you’re in a similar situation, and want to open lines of communication again, give this a try! The initial message can state how the card is supposed to work, followed by your first entry – why you love your spouse that day. BE CREATIVE! Hide the card in their gym bag, their favorite book, underwear drawer, or sneak out and tape it to their steering wheel. Remember, in the end, it’s the effort the two of you put into fixing the communication issue that will make your relationship stronger than it was before. I know in my case, when we see things getting unnecessarily awkward, we are much quicker to talk things out than we were before. Plus, sometimes, it’s just something nice to do for the one that matters most to you.