Today I received an email that is sure to touch your heart:
"First of all, I want you to know that I look forward to your emails every day. They are so helpful!!!
"I know you are bombarded with emails every day asking for your advice. I am in a sticky situation. I have been with my boyfriend for 18 months. He has been in training for the last six weeks out of state before leaving for a year to Iraq after Thanksgiving. He will be home for four days during Thanksgiving.
"At the beginning of our relationship we would briefly talk about marriage (I am 39 and he is 45), but that has not really been mentioned for a while and has not been mentioned at all before he left.
"I love this man with all my heart and I want to wait for him; however, I need a reason to wait and that is knowing that we still have a future together as soon as he is done with his tour. I do not want to spend the next year waiting around for someone who may or may not want to be with me.
"When he is home for his four-day leave, I really, really want to have 'the talk' with him. So, what do I do? Wait around, move on and send him a Dear John letter if he does not talk about our future (I honestly think he feels I am happy with just being a girlfriend) or tell him how I feel. I am so confused and could really use your guidance.
"Thank you for your time.
"Sincerely, Amy (not her real name)"
I am glad you wrote. So you've been together 18 months, and I'm guessing that and he are exclusive since he is your boyfriend. I'm sure he's a wonderful man (I have immense admiration for men in the military - not to mention the fact that they are very handsome!) and you love him with all your heart. Right now he must in a high emotional state with all that is going on, and very busy. He probably has a lot on his mind. I hope you are spending Thanksgiving with him.
You have a great opportunity here and I think you should not bring up the future and see if he brings it up. Spend this time being caring and helpful and positive but *without giving too much* and without getting emotional, except at your actual goodbye moment (but still hold it together through the tears).
I think you should show serenity and confidence. That will make him more aware of your end of the situation, which he probably already is anyway.
If he asks you to "wait for him," then tell him you want to talk about it. Then let him do the talking to find out what he means. If he doesn't propose to you or give you more than what you now have in terms of a future, then be honest. Briefly tell him that you're in love with him, and that you're there for him, but that in the long run, you need to be with someone who is in love with you just as much. And leave it at that. Let him figure it out. Make no promises.
Of course he may surprise you before he leaves, but assuming that he doesn't, here's what I suggest:
You're already in love with him, so that isn't going to change any time soon. However, you have to think of your own social and romantic needs since you are not engaged to him and he's not present. I think you should spend the time while he is away doing things with friends, old and new, men and women. These will not be dates.
If you find yourself mutually attracted to someone, then spend more time with him, in a casual way, and see where it goes. You are not engaged. [
Most of all, don't worry about this too much. Your guy is perfectly capable of going after you, so let go and let things take their course. Don't try too hard in any way. This might be a key to why he has backed off from you somewhat already (from mentioning marriage the way he did in the beginning).
My guess is that you might end up with this man. While he is gone, he may realize how much he wants to be with you even more. Have confidence in the fact that he doesn't want to lose you. Now is the time to feel your strength there.
Keep us posted!!
Getting a commitment is an art these days. The less you want it, the easier it is.
My program "Hard To Get" discusses the Reverse Ultimatum - find out what it is and how to pull it off - in getting a man to commit. Check it out!
Author of "Hard to Get - Your Personal Guidebook on
How to Play the Game of Love!"
During the day I received some wonderful emails that I shared today in my column:
As a "seasoned" female Army Soldier of over 20 years, this girlfriend of this Soldier needs to understand something.... right now it's NOT about HER or THEM, it's about HIM going to war and it's about HIM returning home alive and with all his body parts!
If this girlfriend loves this Soldier, she needs to be patient right now and put her needs on hold. She needs to help him through his deployment by writing him often, sending him "I care" packages, remaining faithful in his absence and actually being there for him when he returns home. A deployment of any kind (especially to a war zone) is what makes or breaks a relationship in the military.
This girlfriend needs to ask herself another question... If this Soldier were to ask her to marry him before he deploys, or better yet, if they were to actually get married before he deployed and he were to return from the war missing an arm, a leg (or maybe both), or if he were to return with half of his skull or face missing, is she willing to and going to remain his devoted wife?
War is reality, as are the repercussions of war. This girlfriend needs understand what reality is all about!
More correspondence with Jessica below. I guarantee you will find it very thought-provoking.
One thing everyone in the military who wrote me agrees on is this:
Don't bring up the "Serious Talk" about where things stand this week - and whatever you do, do not break up with him while he is overseas. More on why - keep reading. Here is the next email:
Normally, I read these wonderful messages and take the advice to use in my relationship, but this post I felt I should respond to. I am a female in my 40's who deployed to Kuwait. I can give a little insight into the plight of an Iraqi-bound GI.
He will be depending on letters and packages from this woman and will fall more in love with her through the courting of the letters. I saw it many times with the GI's that I was deployed with. They all ended up going home and getting married to the lady who was writing to them. I definitely agree that she should not bring the subject up over Thanksgiving because many times the GI's are advised to not get involved before they deploy to limit family distress while being at war. They are guarded and will not commit because they fear they will leave someone hanging.
Presently, my own son is in this situation with a girl who wants to be married to him and he deploys in March. She too has the same question. I have talked to my son and he wants to release her until he gets back to enable her to make a good choice and not feel like he is holding her down while he is gone 13 months. He fears she will cheat and it will hurt him worse.
I commend him for thinking of her, but also advised him that when women are in love they are willing to wait and he could just give her a promise ring, promising to come back to her in the future. It still is her choice to wait or go.
Ultimately, Dear John letters do nothing but destroy morale of not only the man who gets one, but the comrades that deal with the heartbreak of their fellow soldier. This is the last thing the troops need in the face of danger!
The advice is unanimous (which rarely happens!) -
Amy should not worry about the future with her boyfriend now. If she really is in love with him and wants to spend her life with him, she should be his emotional support when he is away for a year.
Wow, Mimi, I just read the story of "Amy" and I can feel for her. We have just about the same kind of story except my Army SGT married me back in September on my birthday before he deployed to Iraq for a year. He has had his four-day leave and now he is in Iraq by way of Ft. Hood, Texas.
By the way, he had just left Ft. Hood that Tuesday the week of the shootings there for his four-day leave. I do hope her situation ends as well as mine has, I love my new husband very much. I wish her well.
All of the US soldiers here and abroad have my utmost respect. One of my daughters is considering being in the military too. She and I visited a military base briefly a couple of months ago. She didn't say much when we were walking around (naturally I found the Starbucks) but after we left, she said she wants to be part of the military and is getting more and more interested in this.
MORE EMAILS FROM READERS:
The Dangers of Ending a Relationship With a Man Who Is Deployed
Jessica wrote back to me with much more thought-provoking information:
Hi Mimi,Another reader adds this thought-provoking email:
I am a new fan of yours and because of you I enjoy my morning coffee even more now:)! Thank you for taking the time to reply to my mail. I hope I gave you some things to think about.
There is all kinds of information online about “dealing with deployment” and how deployment can affect a relationship. There is help out there for girlfriends and wives, and you are in the position to point “Amy” in the right direction.
Amy is in for a very, very long year (perhaps longer). This Soldier isn’t talking about marriage anymore because he does not know if he will live or be whole enough to see the day; it has NOTHING to do with Amy.
This Soldier needs to go to war with his head on straight, focused on doing his mission successfully and returning home as well as can be expected. He does not need Amy giving him any ultimatums; he does not need to have his heart broken before his deployment, he does not need his heart broken while he is in the war zone, and it would be nice to think that when he returns he will not have his heart broken at that time. Death comes with war. Sadly too, death also comes after war – suicide, some as a result of selfish women. I am a criminal investigator; I see it and I read the notes, so I know.
Mimi, set Amy straight and point her in the right direction. I don’t know how really strong this relationship is, but Amy needs to understand this Soldier’s life may very well depend on her.
Again, thank you for your time and writing me.
Mimi:Deployment Will Make or Break the Relationship
This email could not have come at a better time. My boyfriend of 18 months is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan at the end of January, his 4th to date and 1st to Afghanistan. I'm in the exact same situation and it was good to read your advice.
I would like to offer one caution about 'Dear John' letters though - during my boyfriend's previous deployment he had a girl back home here that he had been dating for 3+ years who sent him a 'Dear John' letter the week after Valentine's Day. It absolutely crushed him and he had to go to his commander (he's an officer himself) and ask to be taken off duty for a few days because his head wasn't in the game and he was afraid he would get one of his guys or himself killed. His commander totally understood and sent him to Qatar for 4 days just to get away and clear his head.
He still hurts from what happened to him and I believe he is using this upcoming deployment to see if we will make it through. I also believe that soldiers disengage a bit as they prepare to deploy so that it won't hurt quite as much to be away for 12-14 months. He has told me on numerous occasions that it's more difficult for those who stay home than it is for those who deploy. I'm not so sure I believe that, but it does give some insight into how he's thinking.
I'm terrified, but oh so proud of him. I am just working on making these last two and a half months as stress-free and fun as possible (easier said than done!).
Thanks again for your advice.
Here is a wonderful and inspiring email from a military wife:
I corresponded with Jessica again who echoed the "make or break" thoughts. I'd requested some online resources for women in this situation.
I have never felt the need to respond to an ezine before but I felt a need to respond to this edition and to talk to "Amy."
I have been married for 17 years to my soldier and he has been deployed from our family for a year at a time three times now. I bring that up to show only that I am talking from YEARS of experience.
First of all, I agree that Amy should not have this talk during his short time home before he deploys. I know she can feel a need to address this before he leaves - but the truth is - there will be ample time to address it soon.
There will be a short time of communication blackout right after he leaves while they are in transition but soon the communication will pick up again as he is settled into his new reality. They will be able to connect and talk quite regularly once that happens. That may be every day or it may be a few times a week but there will be time for Amy and her soldier to connect and figure all this out.
The separation and his intense reality will bring these discussions about naturally. He may be surprised to see how much of his rock Amy becomes during this time. He may realize that he can't live without her. He may become hyperaware of the fact that Amy is able to date other men and there is nothing he can do to prevent that and realize how much he doesn't want to lose her.
There is no need to "fish or cut bait" now. In fact, it is an unnatural time to do so. The natural need to talk about these things and to really explore the depth of their relationship will happen naturally just as a result of the deployment.
Deployment is stressful on couples. It makes or break you. My husband and I are SO much closer as a result of his deployments. He has gained new respect for me. He has fallen in love with me all over again. We have realized how much we do love each other and depend on each other. This doesn't happen to everyone - we have seen some relationships shatter against the harsh rock that a deployment is. But for most of our friends, the deployment has forced them to focus on their relationship and to really grow closer.
I would tell Amy to relax and just be here now. Be with her soldier while she can be and to just let the moments happen. Give the deployment the time to highlight the strengths or weaknesses of their relationship.
Good Morning Mimi,
Perhaps Amy is very caring and willing to wait, but is she strong enough to be the girlfriend and/or wife of a Military Man?
This deployment will make or break their relationship and the "making" of it depends on Amy.
So far I’ve found that the best support and information resource for military spouses and significant others of all branches around the world is:
I’m glad I could help. I hope I gave you, Amy and your other readers some things to think about. I hope Amy follows up with you in a year or so and has nothing but good news to report.
Keep up the great work, I love our coffee time together!
Thanks so much to everyone who has written in on this topic. Feel free to comment; comments are monitored and will be checked frequently during the next day so they can be added.