On Friday, Jarrod got his dream sheet. (For those of you unfamiliar with the lingo, a dream sheet is the sheet on which he will fill out his aircraft and bases of preference, which will be taken into consideration when The Big Guys decide where he’ll be going and what he’ll be flying.)
Today after church Jarrod and I were in the parking lot on the way to the car, when Jarrod realized that he had two more daytime flights left in pilot training.
“After Tuesday, I won’t fly days again until…” He paused, thinking.
“Albuquerque,” I finished, tossing my purse in the car. “Or PIT.”
I realize this entry may be a bit premature, but really–pilot training is almost finished. Jarrod’s Columbus class dropped last Friday; our drop is March 8th. Jarrod receiving his dream sheet and transitioning into night flying are two big things that mean the end is nigh, and I couldn’t be more excited.
All I heard in the months leading up to Jarrod beginning pilot training last January was–”this is the hardest thing you’ll go through as a spouse” (or something to that effect). Now that I’m at the tail end of it, I feel qualified enough to give my own advice about making it through pilot training as a couple. So here’s my two cents:
It’s all about independence. I have a secret. Pilot training wasn’t as difficult as everybody made it out to be. Okay, um, on the marital side of things, that is. I wasn’t the one flying the planes! I attribute this ease to my independence. I think it’s partly a personality thing, and partly something I learned through four years of maintaining a long-distance relationship with Jarrod: I can’t rely on my husband for happiness. It sure is nice to shower my bubby with kisses when he gets home from work and sit and chat the evening away, but some nights it’s just not possible. Some nights he gets home after a twelve-hour day and has just enough time for a short kiss and a hug before he has to sit down and study for the rest of the evening. I never expect Jarrod to entertain me, but when he can, I drop my plans for the evening and enjoy our time together. Independence is important for military spouses in general, because deployments happen. Life can’t stop because my husband is gone.
But he has to put in a bit of effort, too. When Jarrod first started pilot training, his flight commander told him and the other married guys in his class that Saturdays were for their wives. We took that advice and swore by it. Because, while independence is important, a marriage needs regular maintenance to stay healthy. I’m sure that if Jarrod would have spent time with his buddies or holed up in his room studying every Saturday, I and our marriage would have suffered. Instead, we devoted the day to one another, sitting at coffee shops, eating Chick-fil-a, and re-upping our real-life Sims relationship meter.
Keep a good attitude. Okay, fine. Sometimes it really does suck. You’ve waited all day for your husband to come home when finally, hearing the sound of the garage door opening, you jump up and wait by the door with puckered lips and: enter husband with a scowl on his face and too much work to get done before bedtime. It feels horrible, but you’ve just got to suck it up, heat up dinner for him, and leave him alone. And don’t take it personally. Because he’s under ridiculous amounts of stress, and whining about him not caring about you isn’t going to help things. If you need to, get out a bar of chocolate, a bottle of wine, and run a bubble bath. Whatever it takes to move on. But I tell you, don’t give your husband anything to worry about, even if it means you have to conceal some emotions. You can talk about it on Saturday.
Get some hobbies, and some friends. I cooked a lot, made sure my house was clean, got a part-time job, tried to write, participated in Taco Tuesdays and Wine Wednesdays, signed up for bootcamp, made curtains, organized my library, read a bunch, and watched The Biggest Loser. Twelve-hour days can be long, but if you fill your day with activities the time will fly by and your husband will be back home before you know it. And then you’ll find yourself five weeks out from drop and absolutely flabbergasted at how the past year managed to slip away. Srsly. I still can’t believe we’re almost there.
So this has been a rambly post, hasn’t it? Maybe my advice absolutely missed the mark for you, but it’s how I managed to get through the past year without serving Jarrod divorce papers, so whatever works. I love the guy more than anything, and I think that helped some, too.
Note: I know I use “husband” a lot in here. It’s only because generally the husband is the one going through pilot training, and it’s just plain easier to write my advice that way. That said, if you’re offended, I’m sorry. If you send me your name then I promise I’ll dedicate my not-yet-written-or-planned advice book about being a military spouse to you, because you are cool and also very rare, sir.