Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Breaking Up With My Surrogate Spouse


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.

 

14 comments:

  1. I have never thought of that aspect of deployment before! I'm sure she'll understand!

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  2. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! As I near the end of my husband's deployment I too am starting to think about my dear friends who have stood by my side and have filled the shoes of my deployed husband. I hate that my best girlfriends say, "Promise me we'll still get together and do things." Of course we will, right? The balancing act can be difficult, but nothing will ever replace those girlfriends who let you snot on their shoulder when you were crying, walked over lasagna when you posted on facebook that you had cereal for the 5th night in a row, and called/texted/e-mailed just to say, 'how are you?' Thank you for this post!

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  3. I heart this post so much! I have two true friends that are like that. One is now in Italy and the other is preparing to transfer to WA but we will always be true friends. They were my surrogate spouses the last two deployments. It so nice to have true friends like that.

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  4. Wow, great post! I'm actually worried about when my husband gets home. I've been hanging out with my "deployment wife" ever since he left and I can't imagine the change it'll be, having my husband home and my friend gone (her husband will be coming home too).

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  5. So true! My surrogate spouse was my older sister while my husband was deployed. We pretty much spent every day together and had dinner every night. Before my husband came home I had to move cross country and leave my family behind. Saying good bye to my sister was the hardest part and I admit we both cried when I left! :( I still miss her terribly and she writes me on facebook and calls me all the time telling me how much she misses our movie nights and shopping dates. Although it was hard to say good bye I know we will still be close, and I'm so glad that our friendship deepened and became stronger while my husband was away. :)

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  6. Been there, done that...doing it again. God bless our surrogate spouses, without them, deployments would almost be unbearable!

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  7. Gosh girl, you're an awesome writer! Beautiful post!

    What you say about the different "types" of friends could not be more accurate. It's such a blessing and a "once in a blue moon" occurrence that you meet a friend that is truly genuine and not self absorbed! A friend that you share so much in common with and share a similar way of looking at the world.

    The whole best friend thing is so funny. I have met so many wonderful ladies in my time, but how and when to determine or define one as a friend?

    I actually do have a best friend and it is so funny how she got to be this way. In high school, I was a senior and she was a freshman. We were great pals. I felt like she looked up to me and she made me feel "so cool." Then I moved away to college, and apparently, I wrote her letters about college life and rushing for a sorority. I, sadly, can't remember the letters because freshman year was such a blur and so long ago. Any way, we lost touch and it wasn't until a few years ago after I finished grad school that I found her on myspace (back when it was popular). Well, turns out, she was in the same sorority I was in and she was also dating an Army dude! I was engaged to an Army dude! Wow..high school buds, sorority sisters, and Army girlfriends!

    A couple years later we both married our Army guys and I was proudly one of her "surrogate spouses."

    I have never been one to call all the time and it is so easy to get preoccupied with our own lives, but nothing feels better than getting around a gal that is almost exactly like you: cusses like a sailor, says the word "dude" at the beginning of each sentence (because we're representing Flo-rida), teases the hell out of her friend and her husbands, talks mad sh*t, loves beer, educated, but a little rough around the edges!

    Sorry I wrote a blog post on your blog. This was just too good of a topic not to share.

    I am sure you and your friend will come back together again full circle!

    xoxoxo,
    Jennie Pie
    "Capturing Sweet in the East"

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  8. I really like this! Thank you for clarifying something so effortlessly, that the rest of us were unable to verbalize.

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  9. what a beautiful post! i am glad your husband is home safe!

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  10. beautiful post! i am so glad to hear that your husband is home safe (and that you've had such great companionship)!

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  11. still to this day when i call my friends there husbands say honey, it is your wife. this is so true. what would we do without our other spouses

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  12. I love this post! It made me miss mine who I left once we PCSed :(

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  13. So sweet!!! I know that if she's a true friend, she completely understands the distance between you right now. She also knows that you will be back. Congrats on having such an amazing person in your life!

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