I’ve mentioned before that when I was 19 years old I served a two-year Mormon mission in the Rochester and Buffalo, New York area. That Mormon mission came with a lot of rules. We had to be awake by 6:30 a.m., out of our apartments by 9:00 a.m., and back in our apartments by 9:00 p.m. without exception. We didn’t have TVs, and we only got one day a week to ourselves. We couldn’t call families or friends; instead, we wrote letters (I hear missionaries now get to use email) once per week. We were allowed to call home twice per year: once on Christmas and once on Mother’s Day. (These were the rules when I was on a mission almost 20 years ago, so they’ve probably been altered a little here and there since that time).
Most missionaries I met during that time got homesick throughout their missions, and almost all missionaries got excited to call home to their families on those two allowable days. Me? I didn’t get homesick, and I actually forgot to call home one Christmas. I don’t know when I figured out how to tuck any feelings of loneliness or homesickness into some back corner never to be felt, but at some point on my Mormon mission I did and that ability has unfortunately caused my wife a lot of hurt and pain throughout our marriage.
One of my wife’s biggest complaints back in 2009 when we first nearly ended our marriage was that we didn’t communicate like normal married couples. We didn’t talk to each other on the phone, and we didn’t text each other throughout the day. It didn’t matter if we were apart for just a few hours or if we were apart for weeks at a time — and law school is a perfect example of how bad our communication had become. For the month of finals of each semester in law school, Casey and Addie would go to Utah so I could stay here in Indiana where I could concentrate on my school work. We would email a few times throughout those long weeks, but we never talked to each other on the phone. Other married couples were astounded at how long we would go without communicating with each other.
The blame for not communicating while we were apart largely falls on my shoulders. It’s all tied into my being able to shove all those feelings of loneliness away. Casey has big emotions, and she struggles to hide those emotions so those times apart without communication were especially difficult on her. That’s why this one topic has become the biggest hurdle for us since we decided to start trying to fix our marriage after 2009.
Back in 2009, we recommitted ourselves to more regular communication. We were going to call each other on the phone, and we were going to start acting like normal couples.
Fast forward to this last month and that same complaint has resurfaced. Here we are in 2014 trying to fix our marriage again. Somewhere along the way with all of Casey’s traveling, our communication began to disappear. It didn’t completely go away like it had five years earlier, however. We still talked to each other once or twice per long distance trips apart, and we texted each other a few times per day (it should be noted that Casey texted me regularly, but she only received a return text maybe 1 for every 8 of her texts).
Our communication problem has to be fixed because I’m not likely going to have another chance at this marriage, and so far we’ve made big strides in the communication area.
Something Casey introduced to me while she was away in California was a widely known app called FaceTime. I had never used Skype or FaceTime with Casey before, but Casey convinced me to give it a try and one night while Casey was in California and we were on FaceTime, we both fell asleep with the FaceTime app still running. That app stayed on all night propped up in my bed next to Casey’s empty pillow. It was amazing how much better I was able to sleep just simply because I was able to hear her familiar nighttime noises. Usually when Casey is gone, I have to take melatonin at night or I struggle to sleep without her, but that FaceTime app magically fixed that problem. It allowed us to talk to each other as if we were in the same room and it was any other night together. We also now text throughout the day. We text enough that we actually have texting conversations, which wasn’t something we had ever done before. We haven’t had to make many phone calls to each other thanks to FaceTime, but we’ll pick up on those as needed as well.
Marriage is hard. It isn’t something that can be fixed one time and then remain in good shape forever. It’s a constant struggle but Casey and I are struggling together, and little by little we’ll get our marriage back to where it was before it all fell apart and then we’ll continue to do maintenance on our marriage more regularly than we did before. But our first step in this process is fixing our communication, and I think we’ve made good strides even if FaceTime sleeping together seems too cheesy for many people. (Have you ever noticed how a little cheese can make anything better?)
More on Babble Dad:More On