A dear friend of mine is getting married. He sent me this pic and wanted me to write something to share at his reception on Warrior Love. I have been in a position to watch many a warrior fall in love, commit and then the relationship shatters. The Warrior left saddened and the lover left angry and frustrated. I have also seen amazing, enduring, passionate marriages, and I asked those lovers, spouses, partners, what it was that separated their love from the ones that eroded. What they shared with me was profound, so at the request of my friend, I share it with you.
Loving a Warrior – It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure
A Navy SEAL once described a mission to me as 5 minutes of bone chilling terror surrounded by five hours of endless boredom. An ESU friend said it is more like 15 minutes of YEEHAW! after untold hours of WTF. Either way, they are living in moments where they are juiced to the extreme borders of their body and mind with periods of brain numbing boredom. This can become problematic, particularly for younger warriors who have not yet made the connection between what is happening to them biochemically and mentally. For all warriors however, there are clear and visible physical responses to high levels of adrenaline and endorphins. Their pupils dilate, their heart rates increase, their blood pressure rises, hearing sharpens, skin becomes more sensitive, saliva flow decreases and they begin to experience piloerection and often genital erection. This response engages every system in the body. It also creates some interesting patterns in the brain. PET scan show that the lower areas of the brain, the medulla and the limbic system light up like Christmas trees, indicating rapid specific response. Following this response there is a stress let down. The body swings in the other direction to find it’s way back to a normal or homeostatic state, so all body systems let down often creating heightened sexual desire, bowel and urinary response, intense sleepiness and irritability. Often in that order too.
All of this is interesting but what does it have to do with loving a Warrior, you ask? It helps if you can understand that when your Warrior comes home it will not be unusual for them want a very quick sexual encounter, followed by 20 minutes in the bathroom and zombie sleep. Trust me when I tell you, that there is rarely anything romantic in this process. I always likened it to having a puppy. I’m leaving it at that. But do understand this, to a great extent, your Warrior can not alter that response pathway. It is inate and ungovernable. So if you are rejecting of your Warrior when in this state, don’t be surprised if they start going to choir practice instead of coming home first. I can see some folks, mainly women, sputtering right now and saying bullshit. Hear me clearly. I am not saying that this time gives any Warrior the right to be abusive in anyway. That is always unacceptable and truthfully, that is not how a Warrior operates. But, if occasional half naked wall sex is on your yeah, I like it list, smile you will be experiencing it. Just understand that Warrior will be unconscious shortly thereafter, so make sure you have a stack of good books.
A Warrior is only as strong as his weakest link
Every operator knows this. You are only as strong as the least proficient person in your unit. Long hours of intense training can improve proficiency but nothing can improve someone who doesn’t think they need to improve. If you love a Warrior, you must know that there will be phone calls that come in the middle of the night, family functions that will be missed, unanswered questions, and long campaigns with little communication. This is out of the Warrior’s control. The warrior isn’t happy about it either. But it is the job. So all of your bitching and whining about being alone all the time are not going to improve the situation. If you are committing to a warrior, be prepared to spend many of the important times in your life alone. Learn how to handle that with grace and humor. Now, let me share with you two things. One, I’m a trust but verify girl. If my mate always seems to get calls and I’m not getting calls from any other partners, I investigate. And I mean to tell you, I will call bullshit and search like it’s a crime scene. Two, proficiency happens on two levels, physical training and bonding. There are going to be a lot of training exercises, it comes with the turf, deal with it. Know that every BBQ, every gathering will in some way morph into a training session. Personally, I have had a lot of fun with this and it is a great tool when you want to converse with other people. The upshot here, is that you are a link in your Warrior’s world, be a strong one. Send your Warrior out to do what has to be done without having to worry about what is going on at home. After the nap you can get them to get back into the home mindset.
Understand that you are the chink in your Warrior’s Armor
Every Warrior knows that when they make public that they have taken a mate, had a child or where their family is that they have opened up a potential high risk zone. Therefore, the fact that your Warrior has stepped forward and proclaimed love for you is a huge deal. Really think about that and all it implies. An enemy can cause great pain to a Warrior by attacking family and friends. In the past, this has been a highly effective psyops maneuver to break a Warrior’s will. What does it really say about how your Warrior feels for you when they do they openly declare their relationship to you even knowing the risk? Honor that. Please understand that if they do not carry pictures of you, or talk about you outside of their peers, it is driven by a desire to protect you and themselves. Think carefully about who you share information with, even in seemingly innocuous situations. Always be diligent, always be aware. I know you are proud of your Warrior, but let it be a quiet pride and one shared with others in the same position. Learn how to field all inquiries politely but without giving information. This is not just protecting your family, it’s protecting your warrior too.
A Warrior has no respect for a marshmallow.
Of the relationships that I have seen survive two factors in mates stood out more than any others. One of humor. All of the long term partners had deep running humor that was often gentle, raunchy, witty, cynical and twisted. The second thing they all had in common was that they were tough. Not necessarily physically, although some were, but emotionally and mentally tough. They all had clear well defined boundaries and they enforced them. As a psych person I will tell you that I truly believe that this provides Warriors with a sense of security and allows them to truly let down when they are at home. I also believe that it provides them with a sense of acceptance and responsibility. Your gentleness and acceptance are a necessary, sweet balm to a troubled soul and often needed. But, it does every one of them good to know that when you say, if you do this, Warrior or not, I am going to kick your ass, you mean it. It is at once comforting and reassuring that though they may battle outside of these walls, inside of them, they are part of another team. Know your ground and hold it. Your Warrior may grouse about it, but it does comfort them to be grounded emotionally.
A Warrior often communicates more by what is not said than what is.
There are often times when a warrior simply cannot divulge what is going on. If you are a smart person you can usually put it together by watching the news. Or honestly by doing the laundry, but that’s another story. Do not ask for confirmation, the warrior can’t give it. Don’t ask for details, don’t ask for locations. Learn to ask questions that will tell you what you really need to know. Do I need to worry? Is this a good time for me to visit family? Should the children and I take a holiday to Jamaica? Learn to use short hand. Write a diary for your Warrior, that they can read to catch up when they get home. A very good friend of mine writes a blog for his Warrior. When she is away she does have internet access and the blog is a private way for them to keep up on what is going on, or maybe just what they wish was going on, ahem. The point is that in the technological world there are often ways to communicate brief messages. SS ILY AOH H&K can bring your warrior tremendous peace of mind and help you feel connected. The above is shorthand that is commonly used in my circle. Stay safe. I love you. All okay here. Hugs and kisses. Learn also that sometimes the silence is telling because there are just no words to describe what was experienced. Often times you may find that you are sought out and your Warrior just wants to be held, to hear your heartbeat and be touched to regain their footing. Give them that. If they choose to talk, listen. Just listen. Remind them that they are loved, they are safe, and that you value their service.
Loving a warrior is not an easy task. It takes talent, perserverance, humor, stubborness, a very solid self esteem and a great ability to entertain yourself. There is unfortunately no bootcamp for it. Few self help books. Damn few support resources. So find others who love a warrior. Become the team behind the team. Because when your warrior lays down sword and shield and loves you. Well, there is just no feeling on earth like it.
Blessings to all.