5 Things I Learnt About Long Distance Relationships From My Mother, An Army Wife

We often hear of relationships doomed by distances, of love wearing off when physical proximity ceases, and of growing apart. Most of my life I grew up witnessing the opposite of this. Thus, my belief in growing together whether distant or near stands tall.

When I think back today, I owe a lot of my value system to being a part of army life. This is the love of steel-hearted women who breathe life and passion into the soldiers of the armed forces.

A book by Swapnil Pandey, The Force Behind the Forces, is apt here. The love of these gritty women powers the men to confidently step out and face the most hostile situations. I feel privileged to share a personally witnessed account of this undying love and faith.

My personal experience of this from 1999 as a child

The year is 1999, the country is under attack, and the army is mobilized at short notice. The hustle at home surprises me as I see my father’s suitcase being loaded mostly with his field uniforms. Mom has a determined yet anxious look on her face.

We are familiar with the look so I march the siblings into the adjacent room, “Something is happening! Don’t get in the way. Let’s wait till we know more.” Saying this I use the backyard entry to gather food from the kitchen to silence the younger lot. They get busy nibbling while I anticipate what might be happening.

Soon Dad’s heavy boots announce his arrival in our room. Kissing our foreheads, we feel the warmth of the bear hug. Nothing is said and nothing is asked. We all understand what the hug implies. The military shoes thump through the corridor and fade into the expanse. Mum’s hands are folded as she says a silent prayer while Dad’s vehicle exits the heavy gates.

I never realized what that moment would have meant till I too committed to a relationship

The months that followed were packed with anxiety and stress but rarely did anything reflect on Mom’s face. Every day was a lesson in her devotion to the relationship with Dad as a wife, to the organization as a senior army wife, to the country as a backbone to her husband, as a Coach to the younger army wives, to us as a mother and as a woman.

These lessons were a reflection of her undying love for her husband and her unwavering faith in his abilities. Here’s what values emerged from these lessons–

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Her mere presence brought reassurance. She comforted not just the household but the women she was responsible for.

There were no documents that specified her role yet it was love that created the belongingness to both the person and the organization. There was no time to waste listening to the war stories and fretting. Any upsetting news meant inviting all women together and addressing them to be unwavering instead of worried.


Mom was honest. Always upfront about the reality. “It’s a war out there.” She would say with ease. “What is changing if you and I are stressed about it?” a question she asked the younger wives. “However, a lot changes if you and I choose to pray, smile, laugh, and stay hopeful.” I was filled with wonder. It was my first lesson in how words could make all the difference.


Not just her, every soldier’s wife is an epitome of self-sufficiency. They learn this lesson early. Despite the raging war, life within the safe confines of the cantonments continued. Kids were sent to school, chores were done, and parents and extended families were put at ease. Mom was a cook and a cheerleader with equal aplomb.

This self-sufficiency was passed on to us, children. An inherent respect for every occupation and task emerged which made me a more valuable member of the family and the society.

Decision making independently

Mom did not live in Dad’s shadow. Instead, she learned to stand along with him, sharing the duties and thereby making informed decisions on what fell into her kitty.

I have often asked her about times when she felt the need to cross-check her own decisions. To this, she only smiles. “If I kept waiting for cross-checks, you guys wouldn’t have completed your schooling!”

I learned that both of them had their circle of influence, which they rarely interfered with. It was their prerogative to invite the other person’s advice or input. I’m still learning to implement this in my relationship. This was an important factor for the strong foundation of the relationship because this could arise only from love and trust.


The most important lesson that I imbibed. Understanding the gaps in the relationship yet looking for common ground that would retain the unshaken commitment to the relationship. The common ground was never constant. There were arguments and disagreements yet they ended with a discovery of what could be worked out.

The commitment always held the higher ground. Dad often remarked, “If my offensive plan develops loopholes, I have to go back to the drawing board and revise my strategy to win. The desire to look for alternatives is always fueled by my commitment to the bigger cause, my motherland.” Thus came my learning that there is always a bigger reason, a higher ground in every relationship. It’s about how committed one could be to search for it.

Navigating relationships has never been easy. Whether it was the baby boomers, Gen X, Y,Z, or the millennials, the challenges and expectations may change but does it change the ethos and values systems too? Leaving this here to ponder and evaluate.


About the Author

Saravjot Hansrao

life has always been about waking up with a renewed passion each day. I owe my inner strength to blessings of the eternal truth God, my bringing up amidst real heroes of the Indian Army read more...

10 Posts | 1,618 Views

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