I have a friend that is back on the dating scene. As I hear about his dates I can't help but think about when Steve and I were in his shoes.
Steve and I met 13 years ago. You know that is my lucky number...better be a lucky year. As I have mentioned before, we met at a bar. I was 20, he was 24. Neither of us were looking, but it was lust at first sight for him. Or, could I say love at first sight...after about 6 weeks he told me he loved me. I thought he was crazy...he knew what he wanted. We dated for a bit, I broke it off for a bit, and then we got back together and never looked back.
Our first date was to the Cooker restaurant. Remember the Cooker? I remember what he wore. In fact, I will NOT let him donate that sweater since it holds such meaning to me. I even remember the boots he wore. These were the same boots that he had to finagle with in the bathroom stall when some bachelorette party group was looking for a pair of men's underwear, and Steve volunteered. I remember the night was rainy and he even backed into the car behind us in the parking lot. I guess he was nervous and distracted.
The thing I remember the most about our first date was the way our conversation just flowed. It was effortless, and very refreshing. He was a total stranger, well aside from a handful of conversations over the phone, and we got along so well.
When I asked him what he first remember about our first date he looked at me and gave me some raunchy response. Nice.
As we were talking about dating and being married all this time (8 years in June) I was thinking that this should be my next blog topic....why our relationship works. Of course, we don't have the perfect relationship, but what we have is wonderful and we are doing all-right.
So, what makes our relationship work? Well, the fact that he is gone so much really plays into our relationship...without a doubt. First and foremost we have trust and communication. I believe NO marriage will work without these two things.
Trust: I have 100% utter trust in his man. If i didn't, we would break. If I worried that with each and every pairing there would be up to 48 flight attendants that he could be tempted with, then we would break. If he didn't trust that the Orkin man didn't come over every night he was gone, then we would break. We have never had a trust issue. Why? Well, trust just came naturally to us and it has just never been an issue.
Communication: you need to tell your partner what you are feeling...even if it hurts. Sometimes the truth hurts, but if you don't share then you will break.
Steve and I hit a low in our marriage in about 2005, I think...or was it 2006? Basically, he wasn't giving me the attention that I needed. Again, my love language is physical touch, and my love tank was empty and it was for a long time. I could go into details as to why things the way they were, but that is neither here nor there. I finally broke down and told him that I was having straying thoughts. He was on a trip, and I told him this over the phone. He instantly hung up. You see, this is a sensitive topic for him since his high school sweetheart cheated on him. I knew those words would sting...but, what is worse, telling him I had thoughts, or actually cheating on him?
He called back after the initial shock wore off and we talked about it. Of course, nothing was fixed overnight, but we got through it. Just to clarify, I never cheated on him. This was the worst low in our relationship and we weathered the storm. Truly, it was a horrible time...I am sure couples get divorced over the same thing. It sucked. But, we are only stronger because of it.
Now, what else makes our relationship work?
Be a big girl. I am a big girl and can be in charge and do housework and chores without being a baby. There are plenty of times where I can't rely on Steve to do things, so I have to suck it up and do it myself...like trying to fix a broken sump pump when he is in DET, or deal with a sick baby, or deal with a sick myself and two kids, or mow the grass if it gets too long, or take the trash out every.single.week, or be the one to get the car serviced...you catch my drift. Ok Ok, now when I pick up the recycling container and get mouse poop on my hands I freak out and call Steve and demand that he fix the mouse issue when he gets home...but rodents and bugs and the like are just ewwwwyyyy to me and I can't handle it. That issue aside, I really like to think that I can handle most anything that comes my way when Steve isn't home.
Don't be a whiny bitch all the time: You have to be willing to support his career fully without being whiny all the time. Well, it is okay to be whiny sometimes (especially when your pilot is sitting reserve at another base states away and you haven't since him in what feels like forever), but have a sibling or a girlfriend to bitch to. Your pilot wants to be home more than you want him home, who really wants to hang in a crash pad all the time, and by being uber upset about it will only make him feel worse. Aside from quitting his job, there is nothing he can do, so suck it up...it will be over soon enough...we are proof of that. It will all be a distant memory.
It is not okay to be whiny when your pilot misses another holiday. Remember: you are home with family and friends...he isn't! Yes, it sucks to be in a room filled with people and feel totally and utterly alone. But, your pilot is in an empty hotel room dining on Subway sandwiches and watching HBO, and probably feeling much more lonely.
You can't be whiny when he takes a 57% pay cut to go to a mainline carrier. The gym membership and cable tv will come back soon enough. You can't be whiny when your sump pump fails and he is gone...see being a big girl above. If you call your pilot in tears that there is water in the basement up to your elbows (I am exaggerating here) there is nothing he can do about it...you crying and being pissed just makes him feel even more helpless. Now, calling and alerting him of the issue is one thing because he will learn about it soon enough. But, it isn't like your pilot has a road map of every single thing in the house to where he is able to walk you through any issue. Ah, and this leads me to the next point, but this one is for the pilot...
be willing to part with money when necessary: I get it, pilots are cheap, but sometimes you just need to pay for things. Case in point, this past winter we hired a snow plow service. I tried taking the kids out while I snow blowed the driveway, and I never tried it again (CC was just too young and absolutely hated the snow). I called Steve after the disaster and told him I was hiring a snow plow service. Never once did he moan and groan about that cost. Because your pilot is away so much, there are certain things that the home-front needs help with...and certain things cost money.
if you need help, ask for it: I needed a snow plow service, I asked for it and got it. Last summer I was on the verge of a breakdown with the sale of the house and fixing up the new house. I asked for a mental health break, and I got it. If I know I need help with something, I have no issues, whatsoever, asking for it. That even comes down to something as little as having a girlfriend watch Ben while I went to a bedroom to nurse an 8-week-old CC at a birthday party.
be willing to jump right into home life when at home: this goes for Steve. Remember this trip? I was just having a bad couple of days. Thank goodness he knew exactly what to do when he got home, and that was jump right in, take care of Ben, and rescue me. He could have been uber exhausted, but he knew I needed a break more, so he did what he had to do.
make the time count when he is home: when your pilot is home, love on him. Yes, sometimes life gets in the way, but try your hardest. And the same goes for the pilot. Make your home a happy place full of love and life and laughter. Make home a desirable place to be, and worth coming home to. A lot of this is attitude, and a lot of this is love. Kiss and hug each other before and after each trip, tell one another that they were missed, snuggle in bed (even though it takes a crazy amount of adjusting on both parts to go from sleeping solo to having someone in bed), and cherish time spent together.
So, those are the main points of what makes our relationship work. Now, there are other parts of our relationship that are just as important, if you catch my drift, but I won't mention that now. My parents and in-laws read this for goodness sake. I have been wanting to post about that aspect, since this job surely does effect things, but I just need to get the balls to do it and to find a tasteful way to keep it PG.
I have been working on this for a good couple days now, and I hope I didn't leave anything out. I am sure others can add to this, and please do so if you wish. So, there you have it: why our relationship works.