In his corporate-America days, The Man would come home from work around 6pm, Mondays through Fridays. I work from home three days a week, so three out of five days, it was just us for at least six hours.

Sure, sometimes we would make plans with our respective friends, without each other. However, for the most part, it was the two of us: We would food shop, then cook together; or we would lie side-by-side and argue over whether to get teriyaki or pizza; we would go out for froyo or make a random run to Strand Smokehouse; or we would sit around and watch Netflix as though we strapped for space on our large, red, three-seat couch. The point is The Man and I spent a lot of time attached at the hip.

During the first week of the academy, I didn’t really feel the separation. I enjoyed having time to wrap up some writing, do some extra editorial work for the magazine, and catch up on reading.

It was Sunday that I began to feel it. We spent the Fourth of July at my sister’s place, where we always have a great time. The night wrapped with talks about future baby names (no bundles of joy planned just yet!) and gushing about our future together.

Sunday morning and afternoon were great, having brunch, joking about the blossoming bestie situation between my brother-in-law and The Man, and being a fun, beautiful family. As soon as we got back to the city, though, it was back to the grind to prepare for the week. The Man sat in the kitchen with his two giant binders, studying away, while I made granola bars, prepped his lunches, and cleaned up the apartment.

After my tasks were completed, though, I was alone to watch movies and read. That’s when it really hit me that I’m not the top priority anymore, the academy is. This is how it has to be, and how it should be, but adjusting to second place is proving a bit difficult.

Even though we argued over technology, sports, friends, and hobbies taking his attention away from me, I always knew that I was The Man’s front-and-center. And now I’m not. Comparatively, second place is a lonely place. We don’t have as much face time, or even texting time, so I’ve learned to keep conversations to a few short, important phrases to convey something that would normally “require” a lengthy narrative.

This won’t be a temporary thing, either. We have 16⅕ weeks of The Man needing to study, or resting because he’s sore and never worked out so many consecutive days. After that, it’s at least 25 years of me playing second fiddle to the fire department.

I’ve brought this up to The Man who still claims I’m his top priority, and tries to make me feel better by reassuring me that we are still golden. This is how he deals with conflict between us, but I feel as though this can’t be just a “there’s a problem” and “don’t worry” conversation. This is something that is changing us and who we have been for two years, and I don’t know how to have a real conversation about it. Also, I don’t want to stress him out by bringing it up multiple times.

Altering so many aspects of my life in this short period of time is stressing me out. I hope clarity, advice from loved ones, and peace come sooner than later.