Distance Makes the Heart Grow Distant

We’ve all seen the movie (only like fifty million times during his last trip).

A chance encounter. A twist of fate. A stolen kiss. And they fall instantly, deeply, madly in love on the Carolina beaches beneath a breathtaking sunset. They spend two romantic, whirlwind weeks of sheer bliss together before she heads back home to her real life in Big City, USA.

They think life will go on like before, that they can simply forget about those two incredible weeks, but love has its fingers wound tightly around their hearts and they end up rushing across tall mountains and vast plains into one another’s waiting arms.

Because distance makes the heart grow fonder.

You know what? I call bull schnizzle!

Unless, perhaps, that ‘distance’ is the two and a half miles it takes him to get to Kroger to buy me a half gallon of chocolate chunk cherry cordial ice cream, then yeah, totally fonder. What can I say? I’m pathetic.

But let me tell you the secret, ugly, pilot wife life truth–distance makes the heart grow distant.

That’s. Real. Life.

He leaves. Life goes on. Loneliness sets in. Things happen and he’s not there to celebrate with you, cry with you, help you, hold you. You learn that you can, in fact, live without him. Because you do, day after day after day after day.

At best you grow complacent toward one other. Cold. Unfeeling. Over time, conversations become infrequent, short, monotonous.

At worst, resentment grips your heart. You blame him. Repressed anger festers in your soul. And your heart slowly grows distant. Cold. Bitter.

Here’s the real kicker. Our pilots experience the exact same emotional responses on the road. The chill sets in between you, and two icy hearts can produce no heat for a thaw.

Before you know what gut punched you, you find yourselves existing in detached monotony. Even when you are together, the distance is tangible. You plod through the daily expectations, each secretly looking forward to the next trip. Each dreading the next homecoming. Alone. Depressed. Wondering if love ever actually existed between you at all.

It’s a recipe for infidelity and divorce. Your marriage hits the ground and explodes into a ball of flames before you even realize that you were falling.

Ladies (and gentlemen), life is not a Nicholas Sparks flick. Marriage isn’t always a romantic sunset stroll on a Carolina beach. Sometimes it’s more like walking barefoot across a bed of broken glass.

And distance? Distance makes the heart grow distant.

Here’s the thing. Are you listening? Because it’s really important. You can’t, can’t, can’t hold onto the guilt for the way you feel. Guilt will only compound the emotional distance, making it even more difficult to traverse. You also can’t, can’t, can’t resent your spouse for the way he or she feels. Resentment will only exacerbate the bitterness that eats away at your heart.

Sometimes you will feel lonely. Sometimes you will feel distant. Sometimes you will feel frustrated. Sometimes you will feel disconnected from your spouse.

This is simply one of the difficult challenges that all aviation marriages must face head on and overcome.

Every. Single. One.

Knowing and accepting that it can and does happen, even to us old [and heaven knows I do mean old] aviation dogs, and accepting it as a truth of the pilot wife life is half the battle. Learning how to overcome it is the other half.

So how do you overcome the distance? You learn to T.R.A.V.E.L., that’s how!

T-alk often. Communication is absolutely vital if you want to maintain a healthy aviation marriage! Your spouse needs to know that you are thinking of him/her when you are apart. They need to know they are missed, loved, appreciated, cherished! Both sexes deeply desire this! Drop a encouraging text. Write a sweet email. Leave a hidden message in his luggage or in her drawer. Send a pizza to the house or hotel with a message. Be creative! You think that your spouse ‘already knows’ they are loved, and maybe they do, but they still need to hear it. Often. Especially when you are apart.

R-eject negativity. I know I have said this time, and time again. Because. It. Matters. When you pour negative thoughts and commentary into an already volatile situation, you are asking for a chemical reaction—and not a good one. Find people and groups who support aviation marriages and speak with positive perspective. Do not air your dirty laundry for the world to beat to death with a stick. Find a few trusted confidants who will love you with truth and gentleness and lean on them. Allowing negative influence to pour into your heart is toxic to your marriage. Put on your oxygen mask and breathe in the good clean oxygen.

A-llow fun. We are terrible at this! Life is busy, chaotic, and full of responsibility. He’s gone more than home, so when he finally shows up there is a list of chores longer than the runway at DEN to wade through. I know, ladies. I know! But you have to take time out of life to have fun with your spouse! Laughing, playing, dreaming, relaxing—these are the ways we stay connected. These are the ways we remember why we fell in love with each other in the first place—before the bills, and kids, and jobs, and responsibilities, and hurdles of life.

V-ows matter. Why should you T.R.A.V.E.L.? Because once upon a time in a land far, far away you stood at an altar, or in a courtroom, or in front of Elvis in Las Vegas and made a vow before God (and/or Priscilla Presley). You. Chose. This. Person. When you chose this person you made a promise to love them, to cherish them, to fight for them, to do whatever it takes to love them well. Marriage is not just another disposable entity in our self-gratification world! It is another human heart that we agreed to hold tenderly. Whenever we look at our spouse and wonder why, let us look back on our promise and choose to do everything in our power to fight for it. Because vows matter. And then let’s love them unapologetically.

E-xtend forgiveness. You will get hurt by your spouse. You will hurt your spouse. When you put two human beings with different personalities, different pasts, different dreams, different experiences, different expectations, different hopes together and ask them to live life heart-to-heart, someone will mess up from time to time. Learn to let the little things go, offer forgiveness freely, and live to love another day. It’s not worth winning the battle if you lose the war…and your marriage.

L-ove anyway. Love is not always easy. There will be days that you do not like your spouse very much. You will not like something he did or something she said. There will be days that you’d rather not look at them, let alone love them. Love anyway. Love is not a feeling; it is an action. It is putting another person before yourself even when you don’t feel like it and, yes, even when they don’t deserve it. It is choosing to speak gently, treat kindly, respond lovingly, and act patiently even when it’s the last thing on earth you want to do. Because these difficult moments? If you continue to travel, they will pass. There is incredible closeness on the other side of the distance. Love wins. I promise; I’ve been there.

Knowing that distance makes the heart grow distant allows you to fight–not with your spouse but with your spouse, side-by-side (relatively speaking), together, as a team! Learning to T.R.A.V.E.L. across the distance will help you lock hearts and fight to overcome complacency and resentment before they set in and begin to fester. Because that’s what marriage is–A constant choice to overcome life’s obstacles, together, as a team!

love you, aviation family! Now pack your bags and get ready to T.R.A.V.E.L.

Tailwinds!

Angelia (A Fellow Pilot Wife)

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Until Death Do Us Part

Time is to marriage as running water is to a mountain.

It doesn’t stop for anyone or anything and can slowly but surely, almost imperceptibly, chisel away at the tiniest cracks in the foundation until they widen and become insurmountable chasms. Over time, it can destroy the tallest mountain, create gaping canyons, and alter the landscape until it is virtually unrecognizable.

Time is to marriage as running water is to a mountain.

It doesn’t stop for anyone or anything and can slowly but surely, almost imperceptibly, chisel away at the tiniest cracks in the foundation until they widen and become insurmountable chasms. Over time, it can destroy the tallest mountain, create gaping canyons, and alter the landscape until it is virtually unrecognizable.

Nearly fifteen years ago, my husband and I stood on Madeira Beach in Florida, the waves lapping lazily at the shore before rushing back out to the waiting gulf, the sand warm between our bare toes, the future as vast and full of hope as the dancing sea. The date was April 6, 2002.

On that long ago morning, a page in our story was turned; he became my husband, and I his wife. We spoke two little, giant words—‘I do.’ Not an empty, temporary promise, but a forever covenant between man and wife avowed before friends, family, and God.

For better or worse. For richer or poorer. In sickness and in health. Until death do us part.

Take a long moment to ponder the full depths of that beautiful, timeless promise…

Just, wow.

Like any marriage, we have experienced seasons of plenty and seasons of struggle. We have endured moments of great joy and moments of great sorrow. We have watched life enter this world— And leave it.

Together.

There is a lot of life wrapped up in fifteen years—a lot of running water. It is a long time to love only one man, one woman—impossible really, and becoming more and more implausible in a society that glorifies the easy road.

Because, quite frankly, sometimes leaving would be easier than staying.

We have not always liked one another, but we have always chosen to love one another. Love is worth fighting for. He is mine, and I am his, and letting go is not an option. Ever.

It simply can’t be, because once you embrace even the remote flicker of possibility of goodbye, it will fester and spread until the once unthinkable becomes the inevitable. Time will chip away at your foundation until one day you wake up and find yourself staring at the man or woman you once loved across an impassable chasm, and you won’t recognize them anymore.

However, the erosion of time is escapable. You can fight the hands of the clock and refuse to allow them to chip away at your vows. There is hope for marriage. Don’t let the world tell you differently.

Don’t wait for the developing cracks to widen into chasms before dealing with them. You must fill the cracks with mortar as soon as they appear.

Great marriages require intentionality, selflessness, and constant forgiveness. We must deal with issues as they arise. We must choose to love one another in action even in seasons when we don’t like one another in emotion.

Remember it’s not worth winning those small battles if it means losing the war–your marriage.

Because until death do us part. 

My pilot and I are living proof that two imperfect, flawed people can defy the hands of time. We have walked through the raging fires and came out on the other side still holding hands. We have shared fifteen amazing years of life together, growing stronger with every year, defying the inevitable tick, tick, tick of the clock.

Because intentional, selfless love is the mortar that defies the waters of time. Love wins.

Today I sit in awe and wonder of the last incredible one and a half decades of my life, and I sit in eager anticipation of the next decade and a half.

I am so thankful that my husband came into my life. I am thankful that neither of us chose to walk away when the going got tough–heaven knows there have been plenty of opportunities.

I am thankful we fully embraced the longevity of the vow we made at the alter, opting to fight for it even when it seemed insurmountable obstacles blocked the path to our forever.

I am thankful that we picked the narrow path, choosing time after time to love beyond the borders of individual ‘me’ for the sake of the whole ‘us.’

I pray for your marriages today and always. I hope that you surround yourselves with positive, encouraging influences. I hope that you choose a better path, the narrow path, even when it’s the harder path. I hope that you find the courage to love each other when you don’t like each other, the strength to fight for your marriage when it’s hard, and the desire to stay even when it’s easier to go.

I love you, aviation family.

Tailwinds.

~Angelia (a fellow pilot wife)

(FOLLOW ME ON FACEBOOK)