This was the 2nd week of the semester, and it’s been a little rough. Change is always a challenge and more so when there is a lot, all at once. My husband is adjusting to his full schedule of classes. Meanwhile, I’m adjusting to a new class of students and getting ready to add a 2nd class next week. Add onto that that we are sharing a home with family, and another family member recently moved in and the challenges and adjustments that go along with that… yeah, it’s been stressful and challenging.
I have been more determined though to push through at times, and slow down when I need to. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s a challenge for me to not put myself last. With that in mind, I am trying to put myself towards the top more. I am recognizing that if I spend some quality time reading a book, soaking in the tub, or playing my guitar, that I re-emerge more relaxed, and focused. I am also able to not let minor things get to me so much, and my “limited resources” are more available to me, and those that I wish to share them with.
I truly love my husband more than anything, and I want our marriage to be the best that it can be. I want to have a secure bond, and feel confident that it is so. I want to be supportive and engaged. Sadly, there are times when something is weighing on me, my mind is weighed down by it, and it weighs on my marriage often in the form of miscommunication or missed opportunities to connect with each other.
The tool that I have found to be most helpful so far is the Daily Temperature Reading from Pairs. There are 5 simple steps to check-in with each other. Appreciations allow me to share with Steve something that I appreciated about him that day and also for me to recognize that even during tough days there is always something about him or some little thing that he did that I appreciate. Sharing new information helps me to remember that there often is some little tidbit of information that I have to share with him, and I am able to share it before I forget to. Puzzles allows me to share what is confusing to me and sometimes helps me to find answers by talking it out, or other times it is something that my partner has an answer to. Sharing concerns with recommendations allows me to share my concerns, worries, fears, etc with my husband and be heard; I am also able to share ideas that I have to mitigate the concern. It helps me to feel that my concern is heard, validated, and together we are able to look at it and sometimes together we are able to see a better solution together. Lastly, we share our wishes, hopes, and dreams – at that point, I usually feel much less stressed, and more calm, relaxed, hopeful, and sometimes just really at peace.
One of my recent pieces of new information was that I was asked if I would be interested in participating in a research project “Caregivers’ perspectives on their experience living with a combat veteran”. I had mixed feelings initially, partially because I would be audio recorded, and partially because the idea of being labeled a caregiver feels uncomfortable to me. However, a possible benefit of participating is how my perspective and our story could impact future services offered to caregivers of combat veterans, and I have found that veteran couples and families like us are under-served, and under-supported. There simply aren’t enough resources available.
War and combat has significantly impacted my husband’s life, and together with that, my life, and our marriage. In some ways, it has brought us closer together, and in other ways it feels like we have to work so much harder than everyone else so that it doesn’t pull us apart. There are things that we are working to understand, adjust to, and work through. Luckily, we were able to get into family counseling at a veteran’s service center. However, while we’ve been there, it’s been difficult to get consistent appointments, there are times when the counselors are clearly overwhelmed themselves, and it’s sad to hear about how many families are not able to get in because there is only one family counselor at the center, and only 3 in our entire state. Maine has a significant veteran population, and yet there are only 3 of these counselors, 1 at each location, which is simply sad. I think that having more family counselors would help more veterans because it would help their families that help support them, and for some, I think it would also be the only way that they would find themselves in counseling in the first place because they may not seek out help on their own or for themselves.
I hope that sharing my perspective can make a difference somehow. I wish things would change. I dream about things like if I won the latest powerball, how I could really make a difference. I would buy us a house of our own, and do things like pay off student loans, and our family members’ debts, but I’d also like to build some sort of center so that there could be someplace for veteran’s, and/or their family or spouse where they could go for respite, recreation, and support – someplace that they could go where people understand their situation, someplace to recharge, and where they can be in a more controlled environment to enjoy some of those things sometimes. Maybe someday…