Category Archives: Marriage and Military

How to Handle Disagreements In a Long Distance Relationship

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

Don't Leave Me by abhinav.s

 Being in a military marriage, I have had to learn to handle all aspects of long distance relationships.  One of the most important things to learn in love at a distance is how to handle disagreements effectively.  By ‘effectively’ I mean in a way that allows both people to communicate their grievances and frustrations while also finding common ground to resolve the conflict. 

Airing Frustrations

I have come to realize how very important it is for me to be able to say what is bothering me.  It is also important to me that my husband acknowledges my feelings.  In turn, I realize that it may be just as important for my husband to be able to tell me if there is something that he does not agree with or that displeases him.  Communicating our feelings to each other is the first step in resolving a disagreement. 

When There Are Only Words

In long distance relationships, exchanges may occur only through verbal or written communications.  This may be particularly hard during a disagreement because couples do not have the luxury of communicating an angry or emotional disposition through facial expressions and body language, leaving only words.  Words without the context of physical expressions leave a lot open for interpretation by the other person. 

For example, when a couple is together and the man says something that is upsetting to the woman, she may give him a look of anger, turn her back and walk away.  Without words, she has communicated that she is not pleased.  In such a case, he has the opportunity to express his sorrow by putting his arm around her or kissing her softly.  Conversely, he may express his anger by leaving the room and slamming the door.  This exchange of emotion might all occur without the utterance of any words.

Couples in long distance relationships may not have this luxury.  I do realize that, through video media enabled via the Internet, a couple may actually have the ability to see each other in real time.  Such media would make it much easier to exchange not only words, but also emotional gestures in facial expressions and body language.

But, what if such technology is not available?  Many times in military relationships, spouses or loved ones are deployed to remote areas without the network capability to accommodate video media.  For these couples, there may be very few options for expressing non-verbal expressions of displeasure aside from angrily hanging up the phone or uncomfortable silences on the line.  For these distant lovers, an emotional exchange might only occur through words.

If There Are Only Words, Be Sure to Use Constraint

In a long distance relationship, words should be savored.  They should be used deliberately and mindfully.  In an argument, however, they may be used pointedly, harshly, angrily, hurtfully or impulsively, steering you far away from handling the disagreement effectively. 

Using constraint means taking a lot of the emotion out of the words.  It is certainly appropriate to express feelings of sadness and anger in response to words or other actions that have caused such emotions.  But, exercising constraint, so as not to express overly emotional impulsive responses is important for resolving the conflict.

Think about it.  When are you most likely to empathize with someone else’s feelings?  When are you most willing to listen to their side of the story?  It is probably not when that other person is yelling, screaming or saying very hurtful things to you.  In the same way, your lover will be most willing to work with you toward resolving a conflict when you are able to communicate your feelings calmly and clearly.

Think About What You Want to Say Before Saying It

It is often helpful to take some time, once you have removed yourself from an emotionally charged situation, to think about what has triggered such a reaction in you and how you would like to respond.  After taking time to reflect on your feelings, you should be able to tone down the emotion when you communicate your conflict.  But, doing so, however, does not mean denying that the emotion has emerged.

If you are angry, communicate that you are angry.  If you are sad, communicate that as well.  It is not what you say, but how you say it.  Communicate directly by stating, “I was angry when you. . .” or “when you said that to me, I was sad.”  If you think about exactly what caused your reaction and which emotion was elicited, you will be able to state this clearly and calmly to your lover during your next communication. 

It might be helpful to communicate through a writing, such as an email or letter.  In a writing, you will have the benefit of being able to ‘rehearse’ your communication.  And, if you are not pleased with what you have stated, you can erase it and write it again.  Be careful to use constraint in your writing as well. An angry writing will backfire as it does not give the person reading the opportunity to respond in a timely manner, which can leave that person feeling hostile toward you without the opportunity to defend his- or herself.

Even if you don’t want to send an email or letter, it is still very effective to write down your feelings when reflecting on the thing or things that have upset you.  Writing down your feelings helps you to organize your thoughts.  You might even have your ‘first response’ via this writing, allowing you to include all of the angry emotion and all of the hurtful words that you would have thrown at your lover had you not been using constraint.

Allow Your Partner to Respond – Listen

Once you have communicated your feelings, allow your partner the opportunity to respond in an unemotional way.  This allows both of you to get to the bottom of your disagreement and resolve the conflict, reach common ground, or agree to disagree.  It is likely that the response to your mindful words will be one with equal constraint.  This kind of communication avoids the sort of emotionally charged statements that can inflict great harm in your relationship.  Hopefully, through discussing your problem in an unemotional manner, you and your lover can understand each other and resolve the disagreement. 

Have you ever been in a long distance relationship?  How would you handle disagreements?

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Glimpse

Here is a Glimpse from next week’s schedule:

Make Money Monday:  From Employer to Employee.  I will look at why some are choosing to reenter the workplace after years of entrepreneurship or pursuing alternative income sources.  I encountered individuals that have done this or are thinking of doing this and it comes as kind of a blow to my own psyche.

Techy Tuesday:  Home Office Series: I will continue the discussion on finding the right Internet service for your home office.  I will discuss appropriate speeds and whether you should purchase separate Internet plans for your residence and your home office. 

Wedded Bliss Wednesday: Handling Disagreements in a Long Distance Relationship.  When your spouse is not with you, disagreements can be very delicate.  There are ways to soften the blow and still communicate your feelings. 

Tough Life Thursday: Discontinued Until Further Notice

LITE FARE FRIDAYS is anything thing that I feel like discussing on that day.  I will try to keep it light just in time for the weekend! .  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.  

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What Kind of Woman Are You?

Today, a girlfriend of mine and I were having a discussion about a couple of women we have known in our lives and how they have conducted relationships and romantic affairs.  I think we concluded that when it comes to relationships, there are quite often three types of women. Which type are you?

The Woman Who Should Have Left Her Relationship Long Ago

This is the woman in a relationship that is physically or emotionally abusive or borderline abusive.  Many times, if this woman is not being physically hurt, she doesn’t even realize that she is being or has been abused. 

This relationship fails to meet up with any iota of a decent relationship.  It is a situation where, for a long time, this woman has endured a man who is noncommittal, disloyal, or generally unsupportive in the relationship.

My girlfriend calls this woman “Cookie Johnson.”  Earleatha “Cookie” Johnson is the wife of retired Los Angeles Lakers basketball star, Magic Johnson.  Throughout their tumultuous relationship, Cookie stood by Magic through his unwillingness to commit, his infidelity, and ultimately in spite of his contracting HIV as a result of unprotected sex with other women.  In a 1992 interview, Magic indicated that he had unprotected sex with so many women, he could not pinpoint who infected him. 

In the same interview, Cookie stated that after they were married and Magic revealed to her that he was infected, she could not leave because she loved him and because she did not want to deal with matters on her own.

As of that interview, Magic was resolved that he was doing God’s work to spread his message and was finally settled enough to be married to Cookie.  Cookie was resolved in supporting this man that she had been building love with for 14 years despite all of his offenses on her. 

Here, there is the ever-present question of whether Magic would have continued to sleep around had he not been infected.  It is quite possible that if Magic has become a faithful man, Cookie had no control or direct influence over that decision.  He essentially doesn’t have much of a choice now.

If you asked me, I would say that it is a relationship that Cookie should have left a long time ago.

The Woman Who Left Only to Pursue the Same Man Over and Over Again

Some women may eventually be wise enough or fortunate enough to leave a relationship with a man that treats her poorly only to find and date the same kind of guy, over and over again.  Thus, even though she has technically left one particular relationship, she effectively repeats that same relationship.

But, she is different from Cookie Johnson.  Although she is fighting the same battle, it is with different men.  It is hard to say who is in the better situation.  Cookie Johnson got her man in the end, but paid such a high price that it could never be worth it.  She paid with her life, her self-esteem, and her emotional freedom. 

At the same time, the woman who dates repeat offenders may not get the man in the end.  To the extent that she continues the same pattern of dating, she is likely to end up embittered and alone.  She has the potential for emotional freedom, but she has to find it.  She can to grow from her mistakes but must first recognize her relationship patterns as mistakes.

The Woman Who Left, Learned from Her Mistakes, and Moved On to a Better Man

Then there is the woman who may have had tumultuous relationships in the past.  But, she has recognized the poor nature of previous relationships, and has chosen to learn from her own relationship choices and pursue a better man and a better relationship. 

This woman recognizes that she only has a finite period on this earth.  She realizes that she can be treated well by a man.  She recognizes that there are men out there that will never make her question her values or her worth.  She knows that she must look inside of herself to determine her own worth and the values she possesses.

It may take most of her life to get to this place, but she is here now.  She is happy and content because before she found any man that was good to her, she found herself.  And since she can be clear about who she is, her new choices in men will undoubtedly be clear. 

Most importantly, if she makes another mistake about the man she has chosen (his timing, his infidelity, his failure to be supportive in the relationship), she is not afraid to make a quick exit to stay on course to finding a better man, and ultimately the right man.

Have you encountered any of these women in your life?  Are you one of these women?

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Finding A Home In An Unfamiliar Place

Yesterday, I started my search for a house in Gulfport, Mississippi, where I am planning to move in July.  My husband is stationed there and will be returning from Kuwait in August.  Ideally, I will have found a place for us to live and will be completely moved in and set up by the time he gets home.  Once there, I will also be setting up a home office so that I can continue work with my firm from Gulfport.  I will write more about setting up a home office in another post. 

Even though I hadn’t officially started my house search before yesterday, my husband had started sending me listings from Craigslist a couple of weeks ago.  The houses were gorgeous, but I decided to wait a while before seriously pursuing property.  At that time, although a few of the listings excited me, I was powerless to take any action.  It was too far out for me to make a commitment and I was not prepared to travel to Mississippi at that time to see any of the properties.  So, my excitement was futile.  I decided to just wait until the beginning of May to begin my search. 

I will also plan to travel to Gulfport at the end of May or the beginning of June to look at properties.  By the first part of June, I might be ready to make a commitment.  I might even decide to move a little earlier if the right place comes along. 

If you are planning to find housing in an place where you’ve never lived, here are some things you can do to stay on track.  This may be especially useful for my fellow military families who are moving to the next duty station in an unfamiliar area. 

Visit Before You Start Considering Property

If it is at all possible, I would definitely recommend visiting the place to which you intend to move before you start looking for a place to live. You will get a much better feel for how it will be living there, if you’ve seen it for yourself. You can also plan to visit different communities in search of one suited to your interests and budget.

I have only been to Mississippi one time in my life and that was back in February of this year when I went to visit my husband right before he deployed to Kuwait.  It was supposed to just be a visit to spend some time and say our goodbyes. 

Luckily, with limited things to do in Mississippi, we kind of planned on the fly to drive around in search of desirable communities for living.  At the time, we thought we might want to try and buy a house (well, really it was me that wanted to consider it) so we were actually looking at new houses for sale.  But, we ended up finding a couple of really nice communities and these became our target communities.  I will look at these and other comparable communities when trying to find a home. 

While in Mississippi, my husband and I were also fortunate to have had a waitress in a restaurant that lived in the same area and was able to tell us which areas to stay away from.  She had bought her house right before Katrina hit and was able to offer us some great insight into living in that area.

Property Listing Websites: Craigslist, Military by Owner

If you intend to find your own housing, as opposed to going with a real estate agent, websites offering real estate listings are a great and convenient tool.

Yesterday, I started with Craigslist (Craigslist.com) and Military by Owner (Militarybyowner.com).  On both of these websites, you can specify a state and an area for finding property, as well as other criteria such as the number of bedrooms and rental price range. 

Once I found a property I liked, I sent an email inquiring about whether the property was still available and whether it would be shown.  In some cases, I requested additional information, such as a street address or community designation and more photos. 

Since it is important to my husband to be only a short distance from the base, I also used Google Maps to determine the location of a particular house and its proximity to the base. Google Maps has a great satellite feature that allows you to view the street where a house is located.

Plan to Go and See Properties After You Have Made Some Selections

If it is possible, plan a second trip right before it is time for you to move to go and see the properties you have selected.  You will definitely want to do a walk-thru of the property to look for defects and things that were not represented or were not represented accurately in the property listing.  These things will be red flags that you will need to use to weight and rank your selections. 

In case you are not able to see the property yourself, maybe you can make other arrangements if you have family or friends in the area.  Recently a work colleague of mine moved to Washington state.  Since he wasn’t able to travel out there to see properties for himself, he got a friend to go and look at the properties instead.  It is always a good idea to have someone’s eyes on the property, someone that you trust, before you make any commitment.

I will continue to search for properties over the next couple of weeks and will then plan a trip to Gulfport to see these properties for myself.  Even though my husband will not be home to visit with me, he will participate in the selection through the internet and by email.  He will be able to see the properties online and we can discuss our options on the phone. 

Have you ever had to move to a place where you have never lived or even visited?  How did you find a place?

TOUGH LIFE THURSDAYS is a self-development forum.  It takes from my own experiences and desired self-improvement, and I hope it will evolve through input by you and others.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive updates by email or RSS reader.


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When I Speak of My Husband, Is My Vision Skewed?

Absolutely.

A reader of mine inquired recently about the way that I talk about my husband on this site. She acknowledged that I tend to put him on a bit of a pedestal and that it seems as if the whole story of us is not being told.

She is correct. I do put my husband on a pedestal, in the same place that he puts me. And my readers will not always know the entire story because some things are not for the public forum. But I will always tell as much of the story as appropriate to illustrate a particular point or to shed light on an issue for discussion.

Over the years, both from outside and now from within my own marriage, I have always enjoyed reading books, blogs or other perspectives on marriage, especially when the author is very positive and supportive of his or her spouse whether or not the writing is about the positives or negatives in marriage. I have always learned a lot more about dealing with marital discord from these writings based in mutual respect and love. Now, I have grown accustom to this perspective and it is one that I have adopted in my own writing.

Even though marriage is not always rose-colored, I tend to fall back on the adage taught to me by my mother: You can say anything you want… it is not what you say, but how you say it. I apply this adage to the way I communicate verbally with my husband and with others, as well as to my writings and communications with you.

That means that even though I may talk about many different facets of marriage, I will always shed a favorable light on him because he is my husband, in good times and in bad times. He is in this marriage just as I am. He has to take the good with the bad just as I do. We work together and are supportive of each other. And he speaks just as positively about me as I speak about him.

That being said, I try to be as objective as possible when writing about issues on this blog. However, I can only speak from my own perspective. I can only speak to how a situation has made me feel and how I have perceived any given instance. In that way, my view will often be skewed, many times in favor of myself and of my loved ones.

My personal goal is always to maintain a positive attitude and to resolve conflicts in marriage, and in life, in the best and healthiest manner possible. So, even when I am speaking of the negatives in marriage, I won’t find it helpful to do so in this public forum by attacking or criticizing my husband for a specific occurrence. On the contrary, I think it is most helpful to keep a cool head and state facts and feelings as they were experienced while illustrating how an instance has unfolded and how it is resolved.

I won’t say to you that the whole story of my husband and I will be told on here, however, and I think you would agree that it shouldn’t be. Our marriage has bumps in the road just like most other marriages. But, sometimes, our darkest hours are for us only and should be preserved for private discussion and resolution. During those times, I don’t support him any less, he is still a good husband.

It is never all rosy all of the time, but I’m not here to criticize. I am here only to share my perspective on relationships as best I can, the way I see it.

WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

 

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Ovulation, Hay Fever, and Deployment Can Lead to a Little Periodic Frustration and Anger

A couple of days ago, I snapped at my husband for no apparent reason.  We were looking through listings of houses in MS from our respective ends of the earth.  All of a sudden, I got confrontational over some minor point that was not even important to the discussion.  I felt it as it was happening, but did nothing to soften my push.  We didn’t argue only because my very awesome and cool-headed husband didn’t engage me for long and simply acknowledged that we had gotten “off topic.”  We soon returned to the original discussion, but at that point, the mood had been soured.  So, we said our “I love you’s” and got off the phone. 

Later that night (the next morning for him – Kuwait is 7 hours ahead), he called me and we were back to normal.  He denies that there was ever any discord.  I don’t think he even really processed my sour mood.  But I did. Pesky hormones.  There’s definitely a cycle here that I have been following.

If you are a man (or my mom), this is where you should stop reading. 

What do ovulation, hay fever and deployment all have in common?

Nothing, but put them all together and they spell periodic frustration and anger.  Bear with me.

#1 Ovulation

A woman’s ovulation occurs when her egg is released from the ovarian follicle.  It occurs 14 days after the first day of her menstrual cycle.  On average a women’s sexual appetite is highest during ovulation. 

I was ovulating at some point between the middle of last week and over this past weekend.

#2 Hay Fever…

… the feverish desire to roll around with hubby in the hay.  These feelings had been compounding over the previous several days.  They actually peaked right around the time of our phone call that morning… and had abated by the time we spoke again later that evening.

#3 Deployment

My husband works hard everyday for our country’s peace and security.  I love him for that and I respect his position.  But, his call of duty also means that we are apart during intimate times of need.  This about our separation inevitably affects us both. 

1+2+3 = Periodic Frustration and Anger…

Unfortunately, a little periodic frustration and anger kind of goes with this territory.  They are normal feelings and can even be healthy as they are a reminder of what is important and what is missed.  They are a measure of both passion and fortitude. 

At the same time, however, they can trigger hormonal responses that are a manifestation of all of the above.  It can be enough to push me to mild confrontation during a call to discuss houses in MS.  In this way, my feelings had become displaced going from lusting to frustration to full-blown anger.

It is a cycle that is easy to read, but harder to dispel.  Now, in the next few days, my hormones will rebalance.  My hay feverishness will quiet.  And I will be my usual jovial self…. until this time next month. 

The good news is that this cycle is slated to finally end sometime in the middle of August…  and not soon enough. 

 WEDDED BLISS WEDNESDAYS discusses marital and relationship issues.  Although this is likely to be biased toward my own experiences in marriage and with relationships, I hope that you will join the discussion, ask questions, and suggest topics that you are interested in discussing.  If you like what you see here, please use the orange icon at the top right to receive my content updates by email or RSS reader.  

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Remembering What’s Important

Today I am taking a break from my usual posting schedule to dedicate my time to what is most important to me – my husband. Of late, with work, writing, getting our house in order and my own socializing with family and friends, I have neglected to take the time to do many of the small detail items that have gone without saying in the past and that I know are important to him. They are also important to me.

During his first deployment, I would write to him at least once a week and I would often try to send him little miscellaneous packages, however small. These are the things that let him know how much he is missed here at home. This time around, while he is in Kuwait, I will remember that Facebook and email, and even our phone calls almost daily will never take the place of the personal effort that I put into a writing or a package.

Tonight, I remember what is important to me.

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