My latest Blue Star Families post...
My husband is home. The deployment is over, and our family is settling in quite nicely through the post-deployment stage of getting to know each other again. However, there’s another person who is greatly affected by the end of the deployment as well: my surrogate spouse.
When my husband left for deployment, I filled the gap caused by his absence with another love of my life. She is my best friend, my confidante, my sounding board, my most enthusiastic cheerleader, my back-up baby-sitter, my emergency contact, and yes, my surrogate spouse. We used to joke that we might as well be married to each other because we spend more time together than with our husbands. And the joke always ended with my warning that I’ll be breaking up with her when the deployment ends. Now that the deployment is over, it seems the joke is over too. I feel like I really did break up with her.
While my husband was gone, my surrogate spouse and I shared dinners, held sleepovers, talked on the phone after the kids were tucked away in bed, and even went on a girls only weekend road trip. But when my husband came home, everything changed. As I welcomed one love back into my life, I felt like I was saying good-bye to my other love.
We all rely on our friends while our husbands are deployed. But what happens to those friendships when our husbands return? The time I once spent with my surrogate spouse is now spent with my real spouse. Instead of those afternoon playdates that ended with dinner at McDonald’s, I want to be home in time to prepare a family meal. Instead of those late night phone calls, I want to turn my ringer off and cuddle in front of the television. Instead of those girls-only getaways, I want to have a second honeymoon. Am I abandoning my best friend? Will she resent me for choosing my husband over her?
Many acquaintances have come and gone in my life. I’ve had situational friends with whom I shared little in common other than our addresses, our college transcripts, or our husband’s careers. I’ve had fair-weather friends, who had no problem sharing their burdens with me but disappeared the second I attempted to share mine. I’ve had one-upsmanship friends, who wanted me around as long as they were more popular and successful than me. And I’ve had true friends, people who stayed by my side through thick and thin, who valued me as much as I valued them, whose loyalty was equal to mine. My surrogate spouse is one of those true friends. And I have to remind myself that our breakup as spouses could never change our friendship. In fact, the time we spent together during the deployment will only make that friendship stronger.
I’m sure that once the novelty of my husband’s presence wears off, I’ll crave those estrogen-filled outings and phone calls. Just as my husband and I will readjust to our post-deployment roles, my ex-surrogate spouse and I will adjust as well. Soon we’ll be scheduling girls’ nights out and leaving our husbands at home to watch the kids. We’ll be interrupting each other’s family dinners to call with exciting news or favors to ask. We may not be surrogate spouses anymore, but we’ll always be true friends.