Time Away

This is a bit more of a personal post. I began thinking more when someone emailed about Tim and I’s relationship and how we dealt with deployments so far.  It’s not a secret he leaves often and once we get into a semi routine that routine is normally broken.  Without fail this has happened every single time but that is the nature of the military community. 

We are not relationship experts by any means.  We do what works for us and makes us happy.

Flight School Graduation
Flight School Graduation

Am I upset, hurt or defeated that routine and plans are often changed at the last moment?

No, of course not.

Am I constantly learning about myself and my relationship?

Of course, who isn’t?

When we graduated college, Tim also commissioned into the military. I knew this would happen.  This had been his plan all along (way before he met me).  I didn’t have the experience to deal with the deployments, long distance relationships or the stress that came with it.  We talked a lot and I was prepared as I could be for the scenarios. I have always found in running and life that I learn the best by experiencing something.

For example:

In running, experiencing the bonk of my first marathon.  I had read many articles about the last 10k, but the experience taught me the most.

In life, experiencing the transition from college to real life and my first job.  College prepared me for a lot but my first job prepared me even more.

In our relationship, experiencing the first deployment.  We had prepared the best we could but the first deployment taught us the most.

Experiencing the first big plans changing (when I moved 1700 miles from VA to TX only to be told we were moving 2000 miles, 6 weeks later.

It wasn’t a secret we deal with multiple deployments and quick changes to routines and schedules. We both knew if our relationship would work out, we (especially me) would need to learn to be flexible.  I’m not looking for sympathy because I honestly I love my life and am happy with it.  I could not imagine life any other way.

Throughout college I was more routine and organized than anyone.  I had planners to plan my planners.  I was a very strict scheduled person.  When I went to my first job (T and did long distance for a year), I stayed very organized, planned and routine.  Fast forward a year and it made sense for me to move to Texas.  Tim was essentially told that he would be living in Texas for 4 years.  He didn’t have the option to move, I did.  So I moved 1700 miles to Texas.

About a week later, I got my first dose of reality.  After driving 1700 miles down to Texas, we got word we were moving to New Jersey (2000 miles the same direction…or 300 miles from where I started).

This was not in my plan.  My plan was to move to Texas and find a job.  

My plan was not to move to Texas for 6 weeks and move to New Jersey.  

That was my first dose of reality that our relationship couldn’t be planned.  We could not plan every moment of life.  We had to take things as they came.  We had to “go with the flow”…a phrase VERY foreign to me.

Here are some things that have worked for us:

  • Making sure we take time for each other.  We aren’t always together and there is no guarantee that a date night that was planned will stay planned…we do make the time to share the moments we do have together.
  • Communication.  It’s important to us (even if we aren’t together) to make an attempt to communicate.  Does this mean texting each other every minute of the day?  Absolutely not…but attempting to talk when possible is important.
  • Trust each other.  This comes a lot with being apart…we trust each other.  Even if we don’t talk daily, we know our relationship is strong.  We know when we are back together, nothing will have changed.  It is an absolute great feeling to know that.  It’s a feeling I haven’t had with anyone else.
  • I have touched on this before but having separate hobbies and activities.  When plans and schedules change such as a sudden deployment. I have other things to fall back on.  I have a job I love, friends and family that care for me and hobbies that I get enjoyment from.  Tim also has the same and I think having a few separate hobbies keeps our relationship strong.  That being said also having hobbies we can do together keeps us very strong.

These are just personal thoughts about what works well for us.  I could not imagine life any other way anymore (and gosh I cannot imagine being a very strict and routine person anymore).

Questions for you:

Are you a very routine and scheduled person?

How do you and your significant other make time for each other? 


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  1. I totally thrive off schedules and routines, but I’m making an effort to be more flexible. I think workouts and training will always be very structured, but when I’m hanging out with friends, I’m trying harder not to micro-manage things or get annoyed when plans fall through. Easier said than done, though. 😉

  2. I have a friend from high school who lives this life too. It sounds so hard, but I am glad you found such a great perspective on it. You are one tough girl!

  3. It’s funny how quickly life can change isn’t it?? When I graduated I moved to Chicago for my :dream job:. I ended up hating ti and luckily my boyfriend was willing to move back to Michigan with me for a job I truly love. Thins have a way of working out how they;re suppose to. I mean if you didn’t move back to NJ you wouldn’t be around all of those lovely diners!!

    1. It’s funny Ange because I am so glad we moved to NJ. In hindsight, I would have been miserable living in our location in Texas. There weren’t a lot of options and opportunities for me there. I’m so glad we ended up in NJ!

  4. You are so easy going and I admire how you take things with a positive attitude and not let it get to you. I’ve seen military spouses who have had their spouse in for 15+ years not handle things as well as you do. Also the part about having your own hobbies is huge. I think that’s been a lifesaver for Steve and I the past 13 years. I don’t ever feel like my life or goals stop because he leaves. Sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many spouses act that way. Thanks for sharing this personal side of your life Hollie!

  5. I work with the military and have many friends who are military spouses so I hear (and see) these challenges often. It really does take a special person to co-join the military with their military SO/spouse. It’s definitely a family commitment and not “just a job” like many career paths. It seems like you guys have a great plan and are totally committed to making this lifestyle work and that’s amazing!

  6. While my husband isn’t in the military, we have been in a long-distance relationship for the past 4.5 years as we each pursued PhDs in different states. While we were in college, I kept to a very strict schedule (and did not handle it gracefully when plans changed). I won’t say it has been easy being apart for the majority of the past few years, but it has taught me to go with the flow a bit more and to value the time I do get to spend with him, no matter what we’re doing! We check in with each other everyday– even if it’s just a quick text, and then we make a point to plan at least one fun thing to do together when we visit so there’s something special to look forward to. Congrats on you’re upcoming wedding and wishing you guys all the best–sounds like you’ve got a lot of important things already figured out!

    1. I can only imagine how difficult that is. Long distance for any length of time is difficult but 4.5 years is truly incredible. Your relationship sounds extremely strong. Congrats on the PhD work as well. That is amazing!

  7. I am an extremely routine person and detail orientated. I have multiple todo lists and three different calendars. I really don’t like a change in my schedule.

  8. Preach! I am still a creature of habit and schedules but since the deployment and rolling with all the punches the army gave us i’ve become a bit more flexible. somedays i wish that J and I were active duty, but right now i’m glad we both get to have our civilian careers separate from army. now to cross fingers that we dont have another 9-12 month deployment anytime soon 😉

  9. I love how you always have such a practical approach to things, Hollie. It sounds like you’re in a really great place with your relationship with Tim, despite having so many odds stacked against you. That’s awesome 🙂 I’d say I’m a pretty structured person, but I’ve also become a lot more flexible as I’ve gotten older. I like to have a general idea of what I’ll be doing, but if plans change, I find a way to deal with that too.

  10. Thank you for writing this. Very insightful and some great reminders about relationships. Some of these things i do better than others… Communicating is such a difficult thing. And i need to be better about being present in the moments i do have with my husband… Sometimes routine is the enemy of a thoughtful relationship really

  11. I needed to read this today. I honestly have continued to be amazed by how well you handle yourself and your relationship. It’s really admirable. It’s certainly not easy being separated from a significant other, but when you have long distance and plans changing as quickly as yours do, that throws an entirely different curveball into the equation. It is really clear that you’ve become more relaxed and flexible with your life and I could not be happier for you. My relationship is essentially long distance (without the distance) due to schedules and about to be more distant in the next few months and it’s forced me to let go and accept the fact that schedules change and you can’t plan everything. Dinner plans have to be cancelled, we certainly don’t talk every day or every minute of every day, and sometimes you just have to roll with the punches. So thanks for that reminder this morning- I really needed it 🙂

    1. I understand Sarah and you can always talk to me about anything.

      Not being routine has been what has helped me honestly. If I was still a very scheduled person, I truly believe our relationship wouldn’t work out. It’s been a hard and long road but one that I’m glad I went down!

  12. This is a great post! My schedule is never the same. I work all over the place and a different times throughout the month. I actually think the time apart has really helped out relationship because it makes our time together that much more meaningful. I used to be a planner as well, but now I kinda go with the flow. Compromising and trusting each other are two of the most important parts of a relationship and marriage that you will always need to work on!

  13. I am so, SO proud of how far you have come with “going with the flow”. I remember talking to you about anxiety and being social, so I know how hard it is to even get yourself out there. BUT, on the flip side, I do realize the more I just let go of structure… The easier it becomes to say “yes” on the fly and really just let the good times roll. It’s just hard to get started, really.

    1. It really means a lot Laur about how positive and supportive you have been throughout my entire time!

  14. I love this post! I think for really rigid, structured people, relationships are often what stretch and grow them the very most. I tend to be so scheduled, but it teaches me a lot about patience when I’m with someone who is not. This is one of my favorite posts of yours! Very real and relateable.

    1. Thanks Addison. I agree that it has taught me to stretch and grow when I needed it the most.

  15. I’m not a very scheduled person but I find I like routine, if this makes sense. I appreciate being flexible and having different things pop up but I always need some downtime to recover.

  16. My husband works in the adventure industry. In 2013 he got his first big break and was away for what was supposed to be a month, but turned into 5 months. We saw each twice during this time. I thought I’d be fine since I’d always lived on my own till we got married, but I actually really struggled until I started keeping busy with hobbies and friends. We learned a lot during that time, about ourselves and our relationship!

    1. Wow I can only imagine Laraine, that must have been so difficult. I’m glad you both made it through strongly. I would have been so upset to have such a long delay.

  17. It looks like you’re marrying the right guy. I am very scheduled in my day-to-day but find my friends often aren’t as much. We balance each other well. They remind me to chill, I remind them to go to work on time. It works out 🙂

  18. I TOTALLY relate to be a “learning by doing” kind of person. No matter how much I read, practice, or talk to others I truly learn when experiencing something myself.
    Right now, I can live my life according to my semi-plan. Go has certainly ha other thoughts along the way. For me, all I can do is try every day to be happy where I am. I nee to appreciate that my life is now. It doesn’t start when I meet the right person have kids etc.

    I think the way you have handled your situation is so admirable!

  19. I am defiantely a schedule and planner kind of gal. But I have been doing better the past year with just going with the flow. It is really hard though haha

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