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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm trying to limit advice coming from service members (current or former) or their significant others.
No offense intended to all others. But I am a civilian and need the wisdom of those with real life experiences in this particular area.

UPDATE AT BOTTOM

I want to start by saying that this is my first military relationship.
I have been seeing a marine for 9 months and the last 3 turned pretty serious.
He recently started casually mentioning marriage.

Things were going wonderfully and then all the sudden he started getting distant. It was gradual at first, but last week he said that there was talk of deployment and it would be rough.
There were some variables and we both hoped he wouldn't have to go.

He has hardly seen me at all in the last month and not because he was busy, but because he was stressed and not getting enough sleep.

I have tried many, MANY times to see him during the day or come to his house so he wouldn't have to go anywhere or do anything.
But he always refuses.

Last night we got the news that he leaves in 7 days and there will be little to no communication.
He won't talk about what's going on with his family but he says his father is giving him lots of trouble about issues that my bf won't share with me and I suspect it's been going on a few days. Maybe more.

He wouldn't answer my texts or calls most of the afternoon, Which is completely abnormal because we have always texted throughout the day every day since we first started talking. He finally text back at midnight, giving me the sad news and telling me very vaguely about his dad.
He then tells me that he doesn't want to bring me into it and he needs a few days.

The real problem is that I have work commitments over the weekend that I can't get out of, so I can't see him at all for 3 of our 7 days before deployment (it's Wednesday and if he won't see me today or tomorrow, that only leaves Monday because he will need to get to base Tuesday).
He knows this, but won't answer the phone or text messages.

I may not get to see him before he goes and he might not get to call or email in the months he will be gone!

I have not placed any demands or guilt on him and have only offered support
(But I have BEGGED him to see me).
I know what he does is important and I am so proud of him. But I feel very rejected and so afraid that I won't have any time with him before he goes.

What should I do?

UPDATE:
Just hours after posting this said BF broke up with me, of all the ways, over text... texting is normal for him though. He's an introvert and while he communicates very well through letters, emails and texts. Talking on the phone has never been something he enjoyed doing.
I have several family members like this so it's really not a problem for me.
But, back to the breakup!
He said that he was trying to save me from being hurt, that the work he does won't allow him a normal life and that he was wrong to bring me into it. He told me that he would always love me but I could do better but IF I was still single when he got back we could try again.
I wish I could say that I maintained an impressive level of self control and maturity, but...
A broken heart is an uncontrollable feral thing. So I ripped him a new one.
Fortunately I didn't say anything hateful or cruel!

About two days later he messaged me back telling me that he couldn't stop thinking about me and that he had got more information on this particular mission and he was scared!

I had a few people ask how many times he had been deployed. And I honestly don't know that answer. He has been a marine his whole adult life but has been in special ops for 6 years. He told me early on that there were things he couldn't tell me and I learned not to ask.
So for him to be scared is a really big deal and it terrifies me!
He told me that he couldn't get his mind right for what he needed to do but the separation wasn't helping either.
He is afraid of going over there in this fog and that someone might get hurt or killed because of him.

We had a real conversation for the first time in weeks but he still wouldn't see me.
Thanks to all the fantastic advice I've been getting here, I kept my sadness in check, gave him space and only offered encouragement when I got the chance.
I had a special dog tag made for him and a picture and letter I wanted him to take, there is a place special to us just a minute out of his way enroute to base.

I told him I would leave the items under the tree there, so he could get them without seeing me.
Within seconds of me pulling up, his car came in behind me.
And I lost my ****!
It was all tears and snot and eventually sperm everywhere! (Pardon my crude humor)

He left this morning and yes. There are issues to be worked out, I know.

Someone mentioned that I may not be cut out as military spouse. And I don't know if I am or not, but something tells me that nobody ever does.
I know that I love this man and I want to give us a fighting chance.

Contact is very limited and the length of deployment is unknown, but he estimated 4-7 months, which isn't bad compared to some!
Any advice on surviving the empty space and never ending tears or what NOT to say when I can finally talk to him again would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you to all the commenters, your advice was greatly appreciated and useful!
 

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It seems like your guy is distancing himself ahead of his deployment. This isn't uncommon with service members. It's a protective mechanism to avoid being as hurt if - too frequently, when - they get dumped during deployment or come home to find out their partner has moved on without them or been cheating while they were away. And, frankly, many of them disengage a bit so they won't feel as guilty while they're doing "what happens in the field stays in the field" sorts of things while they're gone. Cheating is rampant among both those on active duty and those left at home. But it also sounds like he's pulling away due to stuff going on with his family that he's unwilling to share with you. And that lack of emotional closeness and unwillingness to share and to be vulnerable with one another can be a real problem for even a non-military couple.

Being the partner of a military service member is hard. Really hard. And if your guy isn't handling himself and your relationship in a way that makes you comfortable leading up to his deployment, then being with an active duty military member might just not be the life for you. In general, I think you have to decide if you're okay with being treated this way. If you're not okay with it, that's perfectly 100% understandable and okay. If he wasn't deploying, would you be okay with his behavior? If the answer is no, realize that the deployment will just make it that much harder. No one likes being ignored and neglected by their partner, even if there's a "reason" that seems to make sense and be legitimate.

Physical distance isn't good for relationships. Lack of communication isn't good for relationships. Emotional distance isn't good for relationships. The first one can be blamed on the deployment. The second can't be avoided while he's deployed, but is something he's choosing right now. The third one? Well, that's all on him at this point.

If the months-long, no-contact, deployment and/or his poor handling of the emotional aspects of the relationship aren't your cup of tea, then maybe he's just not the one for you. Not to say either of you are right or wrong, and neither of you are bad people. But you seem to be at two different places in your lives. And those places don't seem to really be compatible.
 

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My husband was in the military decades ago so hopefully that qualifies me to comment. We were very young and just starting our marriage when he was deployed for a year. We survived it and that’s the best I can say. Military relationships are difficult. Deployments never get any easier. It takes a special person to be a military spouse and I was not it.

As to your relationship, it sounds like your bf has a lot going on right now. I suggest that you not beg (yes, that’s piling guilt and making demands) or do anything else that might be seen as pressuring him. Let him deal with all of it however he needs to at the moment even if that doesn’t fit with what you want from him.
 

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Hi @Jigglygyrations,

My Beloved Hubby, @Emerging Buddhist, served in the Army for 12 years. We weren't married when he was deployed, but I do hope I still qualify to answer because once someone serves, they serve for life.

My first thought: you've dated for 9 months and got more serious, and honestly that's not chump-change. By your own words, you two had spoken of marriage, and to me this indicates a strong level of exclusivity and commitment.

Then he started getting distant...and mention was made there might be a deployment.

@Jigglygyrations, when soldiers deploy, they each deal with it in their own way. The job they do, and what is asked of them, is EXTREMELY hard and stressful, so some do kind of withdraw into themselves to protect themselves. Is this your marine's first deployment? If so, he may not know what to expect and he's worried about it. Will he be able to do his duty? Will he be afraid? Will he get hurt or even die? If it's his second deployment, he's past his newbie jitters (haha) but now he knows what he didn't know before and he knows what he's gonna be called on to do and see. That's upsetting in and of itself. If it's his third deployment, he's been serving a while and now he's in charge of a team, and his decisions and his leadership may cost some men and women their lives.

As a mom, cousin, niece, friend, and now wife of people who have served, our job is to support them. Most of the soldiers I know don't sleep quite right, but when deployment is coming OR just over, it's worse. And when someone isn't sleeping right (2 on, 2 off...) then they don't get proper rest and lack of sleep messes with ya. Same with bottling up that stress. Eventually these things just physically catch up with you, and our job is to know that's coming and cope with it. To this day, when EB doesn't sleep right a couple nights or gets that edge of tired-stress from work, he backs up a step or two and I can feel that bit of distance.

But you know what that is? It's not about you, AT ALL. That's not them saying "I don't want to be with you" or "I don't want to share myself or my life or my thoughts and feelings with you." That is much moreso saying "I need to protect me. I need to have a little room to catch my breath and breathe. I need some rest" etc. I have a term for it in my head--it's the man-cave. They are taking a little time in their man-cave. :p

When my soldier goes in his man-cave, at first I miss him. You do too, right? But then I remind myself that this is about him taking some time he needs to keep his own head on where he wants it. It's not about "rejecting me" it's about what he needs. Okay. I remind myself of who he is and the man he is. What's his character? Does he value honor and commitment? Well then he's not about to act dishonorably or break a commitment! I remind myself that Love is Significance, and since he told me he loves me and I believe him, that means I am significant to him. So when he needs man-cave time, what do you do?

You continue being you. You be the strong, loving, secure, brave, smart, funny woman that you are. You remember who YOU are and be that woman! You share with him what you would request and how you feel, but you don't nag or beg. Just share where you're at, and let him know how you feel, and then let him know you'd be willing to wait until he's ready to share back. In other words, you do you...and at some point either he'll come back out of the man-cave to you or he won't.

He's leaving in just a few days. You VERY DEEPLY want to spend some time to create some loving memories. While he's deployed, no communication via calls or email. Honestly...that sounds intense! Chances are good that whatever he's got to go do is also very intense. He'll probably need to focus up. So give him room to deal with whatever the deal is with his family, and let him know you'll write (if they'll let him get mail) or start a diary that you write to him every night so when he comes home he can read it. Let him know you're not going anywhere and you'll be there waiting, thinking only of him--AND THEN DO THAT. While he's gone, you be AMAZING. You be that GF that all the soldiers wish they had.

I do get it. You feel rejected. That hurts. I hear ya. But this isn't about you. It's about your soldier. Okay?
 

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Hi @Jigglygyrations,

My Beloved Hubby, @Emerging Buddhist, served in the Army for 12 years. We weren't married when he was deployed, but I do hope I still qualify to answer because once someone serves, they serve for life.

My first thought: you've dated for 9 months and got more serious, and honestly that's not chump-change. By your own words, you two had spoken of marriage, and to me this indicates a strong level of exclusivity and commitment.

Then he started getting distant...and mention was made there might be a deployment.

@Jigglygyrations, when soldiers deploy, they each deal with it in their own way. The job they do, and what is asked of them, is EXTREMELY hard and stressful, so some do kind of withdraw into themselves to protect themselves. Is this your marine's first deployment? If so, he may not know what to expect and he's worried about it. Will he be able to do his duty? Will he be afraid? Will he get hurt or even die? If it's his second deployment, he's past his newbie jitters (haha) but now he knows what he didn't know before and he knows what he's gonna be called on to do and see. That's upsetting in and of itself. If it's his third deployment, he's been serving a while and now he's in charge of a team, and his decisions and his leadership may cost some men and women their lives.

As a mom, cousin, niece, friend, and now wife of people who have served, our job is to support them. Most of the soldiers I know don't sleep quite right, but when deployment is coming OR just over, it's worse. And when someone isn't sleeping right (2 on, 2 off...) then they don't get proper rest and lack of sleep messes with ya. Same with bottling up that stress. Eventually these things just physically catch up with you, and our job is to know that's coming and cope with it. To this day, when EB doesn't sleep right a couple nights or gets that edge of tired-stress from work, he backs up a step or two and I can feel that bit of distance.

But you know what that is? It's not about you, AT ALL. That's not them saying "I don't want to be with you" or "I don't want to share myself or my life or my thoughts and feelings with you." That is much moreso saying "I need to protect me. I need to have a little room to catch my breath and breathe. I need some rest" etc. I have a term for it in my head--it's the man-cave. They are taking a little time in their man-cave. :p

When my soldier goes in his man-cave, at first I miss him. You do too, right? But then I remind myself that this is about him taking some time he needs to keep his own head on where he wants it. It's not about "rejecting me" it's about what he needs. Okay. I remind myself of who he is and the man he is. What's his character? Does he value honor and commitment? Well then he's not about to act dishonorably or break a commitment! I remind myself that Love is Significance, and since he told me he loves me and I believe him, that means I am significant to him. So when he needs man-cave time, what do you do?

You continue being you. You be the strong, loving, secure, brave, smart, funny woman that you are. You remember who YOU are and be that woman! You share with him what you would request and how you feel, but you don't nag or beg. Just share where you're at, and let him know how you feel, and then let him know you'd be willing to wait until he's ready to share back. In other words, you do you...and at some point either he'll come back out of the man-cave to you or he won't.

He's leaving in just a few days. You VERY DEEPLY want to spend some time to create some loving memories. While he's deployed, no communication via calls or email. Honestly...that sounds intense! Chances are good that whatever he's got to go do is also very intense. He'll probably need to focus up. So give him room to deal with whatever the deal is with his family, and let him know you'll write (if they'll let him get mail) or start a diary that you write to him every night so when he comes home he can read it. Let him know you're not going anywhere and you'll be there waiting, thinking only of him--AND THEN DO THAT. While he's gone, you be AMAZING. You be that GF that all the soldiers wish they had.

I do get it. You feel rejected. That hurts. I hear ya. But this isn't about you. It's about your soldier. Okay?
Your Amazing 👍
 

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Really? Are you checking posters' qualifications at the door, so to speak?

How very limiting.
But appropriate.

A challenge in relationships is a hardship young warriors routinely face.

And it can literally cost them their life if worries or doubts impact their focus at the wrong time.

And a relationship can be their saving grace, to help them be their best, too.

The dichotomy is a circumstance only those in the service and SOs can directly relate to.

Good call OP.
 

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@Affaircare is my wife and while we weren’t married for those 12 years I actively served, she understands what I feel is a successful military spouse mindset that helps a marriage survive. Deployments in the military are a meat-grinder on relationships and marriages if one’s head doesn’t understand the challenges.

You don’t say if your Marine is in his first assignment, his rank, or his first deployment so a lot of this will factor in to where his head is at.

I left the military a long time ago, almost 28 years, so my perspectives from the inside are Army, mid-level NCO (SSG/E-6), and a mix of combat arms (Infantry) and support (Signal Corps) and my deployments have been anywhere from 30 days to 8 months (Desert Storm being the longest).

As a young service member, the first deployment is a whirlwind of training and paperwork. You have a mix of this nervous fear and excitement that seems to affect people often to two extremes… either they talk and move in excessiveness or they close up and park it without sharing much of anything except what they have to and most of the energy is spent training to an unrealistic standard of muscle memory and trying to understand how it will all come together. Your first deployment is so much of the personal unknown that can be overwhelming.

A second deployment is much different as fears begin to separate into the known (reasonable dangers) and unknown (how are those around you are handling things) and with time and subsequent experience you gain rank and your energy is often spent differently but the way you deal with it adjusts also… often not far from your most learned coping mechanism, but remember what is learned is not always the most healthy/effective.

Fear can get the best of all of us at times until it is befriended… but it is hard to see through the fog of the unknown that is lined up ready to take you out at the knees if allowed.

My gut tells me he is maxed emotionally with fear of the unknown, he could be listening to the barracks “guru’s” that put all kinds of relationship fears into one’s mind about how quickly girlfriends/wives/spouses on both sides fall off the commitment path and sadly there is truth to that on both sides, in the ranks and at home.

Here is the deal though… if he will not share with you then you will suffer yourself as you try to fill in the blanks. Please don’t do that to yourself, as much as you already notice, this is very much not in your control.

Time to take a step back and love yourself more… as my wife shared this is not about you and gives you a good insight to what a future together could be. Nothing wrong with keeping yourself “committed “ to your relationship for a small amount of time until things settle in his deployment but I will say there is NOTHING keeping him from dropping you a small note to let you know he cares. If he doesn’t, it may be because there isn’t any room for you either by choice or not… you may be expecting more than is there. I know it is easily confusing because his words then and his actions now are not matching.

If that does not come within the first 30-60 days… know that you have no obligations to stay where you were left. Love is not about when it is convenient, or when we are strong, it is also about the kindness and honesty to face the fears that confront you and be open to sharing when we are weak and vulnerable.

Vulnerability goes against everything a military teaches… it is an interesting dichotomy we in the military face and it must be learned in the balance if you want to have a healthy military career. If your love is a new Marine, it is not even a concept they would want in such a young troop and in a military mindset leave the compassion for those with the right experience to lead and guide it.

When I need to put things together (find truth in what I am really seeing to make sure it is not only what I want to see) it is like a mental jigsaw puzzle that gets placed together to form a whole and true picture but I need a little time to focus (meditation for me is key here) which requires quiet and patience which can sometimes seem unreasonable in today's busy world. When I am tired and challenged, it takes a little longer to get that picture so I am more quiet, but I never stop communicating, I just don't engage in a lot of non-relative communication but my "I love you's" never cease.

Pay attention to the communication he volunteers… your truth will be in his efforts and please take the time to see yourself as a choice, not an option.

Peace be with you…
 
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Discussion Starter #9
@Emerging Buddhist
@Affaircare

You two are absolutely phenomenal!

This is my busy work weekend and so much has happened between my man and I.
I plan to update and tell you two how much your advice has been appreciated, but right this second, I just don't have the time but didn't want to leave you hanging.
For now, please know that you have been a tremendous help!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Really? Are you checking posters' qualifications at the door, so to speak?

How very limiting.
Limiting was to purpose of that statement, but my wording was unintentionally rude so I went back and rephrased it.
I'm sorry if it offended you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
But appropriate.

A challenge in relationships is a hardship young warriors routinely face.

And it can literally cost them their life if worries or doubts impact their focus at the wrong time.

And a relationship can be their saving grace, to help them be their best, too.

The dichotomy is a circumstance only those in the service and SOs can directly relate to.

Good call OP.
I really appreciate the support!
But my mind was on my Marine and not so much on my choice of words.
I did come across rude and went back to correct it.
 

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My husband was an Army officer. He pretty much shut down before deployment. I didn't find it particularly unnerving, since he was fine once he got to wherever and got into the flow of things.
 

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I've only been deployed once in the Marines in '07 (April - November). I got to talk to my wife 3 times during that time by phone but had regular e-mail communications since I was basically one of the 3 camp network administrators. Grunts didn't have access to email regularly and probably wouldn't ever be able to call unless something serious was up. Among the people that deployed with me several got back to find an empty house, empty bank account, and divorce papers waiting on them. If he's been on multiple deployments, he's seen this happen lots of times. Having a little emotional distance would mean that when he's back from deployment and gets the Dear John letter, it wouldn't be quite as bad.

One of the ways that some people deal with the stress of a deployment is basically to emotionally shutdown and shut out everything but the mission. Forget everything that isn't involved in the next task or current assignment. Trick yourself into not thinking about what you don't have or would miss if you remembered anything besides your job.

When I was able to talk to my wife during deployment, it tended to be kind of formal or professional. How was the pregnancy? How were people at home? Was there any change in my schedule? There was a "Love you" / "Love you, too" at the end but not tons of emotion. When I got back there really wasn't any discussion of my time there except generic complaints about sand and heat. A couple minutes telling where my new scar came from and that's it.
 
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