Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Detaching Effects of Detachment

If you are anything like me, when it starts to come time for your husband or boyfriend to go on a detachment or deployment, you find that either you or your husband start acting a little detached.

In the past, I would feel like a needy nutbag when my husband started acting detached because I wanted to be all over him and soak up as much husband as possible before he left, but he would push me away and want to be alone. When we first started doing detachments and deployments as a couple, first dating then married, I took it pretty personally and would end up getting wrapped up in self-conscious hoopla and freaking out or crying. Don’t feel bad if you’ve do the same thing. It’s a perfectly natural reaction to that situation, but I didn't know that, so I just felt crazy.

photo credit: HidingHeart via photo pin cc

If He Acts Detached

Just remember that it’s not you – it’s his coping mechanism. He gets distant because he knows he’s going to have to be distant in order to not freak out on the boat. It’s not really something he is doing on purpose either. It just happens, a subconscious psychological thing.

But what if your coping mechanism is to spend time with him before he leaves? What if you feel lonely and depressed because he’s distant in these last few days before he goes away?

I recently read that emotional closeness is something achieved in different ways for men and women. Women feel close when they talk and share with their significant other while men feel emotionally close when they share physically, i.e. touching lovingly or sexually. Who would have thunk it?

Funny thing though, when women don’t feel that close attachment through communication, they don’t feel up for getting down. So when this detaching thing happens, women often want to talk and share whereas men want to get freaky. A woman won't want to, though, because she feels like her man is being distant, and guess what men don’t like to do when they don’t feel close through touch? They don’t feel like talking!

So what is this the merry-go-round of rotating knives? Hopefully, no. However, by knowing how this cycle works, you can make an effort to interrupt it. Think of being physical as talking in his language. I’m not necessarily talking the big S – E – X. I’m saying keep in mind that he doesn’t feel close from talking, but he does from loving touches, so if you want to close that distance between you, maybe give him more hugs, offer him a back rub, or a cuddle.

He will feel closer to you and more open to talking. Don’t force yourself to get physical, though. However, consider this: you're resistance to touch might be a sign that you are acting a little detached too.
photo credit: selva via photo pin cc

 If You Act Detached

Husbands aren’t the only ones who use this subconscious coping mechanism. In the last year or so I started doing the detached thing, but I feel guilty and horrible for not wanting to spend time with him before he leaves. I’ve managed to stress myself out once or twice until finally I said, baby, I need to go in other room and watch Orange is the New Black . . . by myself.

It’s all very confusing and can seem like there’s no winning, but the detachment thing is a normal part of the process and once he is gone, it helps you cope. So if you do this, don’t feel guilty or worried. Accept it as strength.

Still, it’s good to be aware of it because if you are like me, you might wake up one day and think, oh my gosh I feel like we don’t even know each any more! That happened to me and for like a week, I was freaking out.

So after letting this worry percolate in the back of my mind for a few days, I finally started opening up to my hubby and telling him I felt distant and you know what happened? Yep, just by opening up enough to say I felt distant, I felt closer to him. Oh yeah, women feel emotionally close by talking . . . who would of thunk it?

Little Lessons

So little lessons learned:

1. Don’t get too caught up in the detachment that comes along with detachment.

2. It’s okay to feel distant because you are strengthening up and getting ready for the separation.

3. If it gets to a point that you aren’t happy, just keep in mind, you put those walls up to help you and when they don’t help any more, you are the one who can take them back down.
4. If he’s detached, just think – it’s a sign of how much he needs to cope to be away from you and maybe by talking in his language for a little while, you both can get the time together before he goes.

5. No matter what, just remember if you are doing detachments and deployments and sticking by each other’s sides in the first place, you can rest assured, you and your Sailor are close. It’s only the detachment causing those feelings.

Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author
Photo by Randy Enriquez
I married my husband who was already in the US Navy when I was 19. We did the courthouse wedding followed by a ceremony three years later. Even though we married after only six months of dating, I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy and deployment survival, and I didn't know what to ask. At that time blogs were unheard of and the internet was not the playground it is today. Navy Wife help online was unheard of.

It took years to learn the ropes by trial and error and after ten years of marriage in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered Navy Wives & Navy Girlfriends. I wanted to spread my knowledge and help other Navy Girlfriends and Navy Wives who are new to this world and reveal to them what it took years for me to learn: the moments when you feel the weakest and craziest are actually the moments that reveal how strong you really are.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction, and many of the themes in my work are inspired by my Navy Wife experiences although I don't write about the military. My first novel A White Room debuted in July 2013 and it is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions to marry a man she hardly knows. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness. Sound familiar?

Become a VIP reader at and purchase A White Room on Amazon US, Amazon UK or Amazon Canada. Find my author page @CarrollBooks on Twitter Facebook, and on Pinterest too!

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