The military life is hard, no doubt about that. It is not only difficult for those in the service, but also their spouses who have to keep a brave face at home while their significant other is risking their life halfway around the world. Deployments are the ultimate test of a relationship, requiring an incredible amount of trust, patience, and communication. Trouble is, communication can be hard with time differences, limited phone access, and busy schedules.
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There are currently over 600,000 spouses of active duty military service members, many of whom have had to cope with being far from their significant others during important life events, like birthdays, anniversaries, preganncies, and more. To help you get through the tough times of being a military spouse, we’ve created shared some deployment of relationship advice for you to use the next time your significant other is away.
Communication is essential in any relationship. It’s how we share our feelings, our fears, and our outlooks on life with the people we love. At the very least, communication provides us with emotional relief. The link must not break even if your spouse is away. Video Chat If possible, try to maintain contact on Skype, Facetime, Snapchat, and other channels of visual communication. This can be the best alternative to physical presence. All is needed is a Wi-Fi connection, which can be an issue depending on where your spouse is scheduled. With video chat, you can virtually see and hear your significant other from thousands of miles away. You can see their smile, look into their eyes, and see how they’ve changed physically since you last saw them. Maybe your spouse has grown facial hair or gotten more defined. A video chat will be the best way to connect when your spouse is deployed. Phone Call If video chat isn’t a possibility, try phone calls, be it once a week, or even once a month, for a limited time. This will at least provide you with the assurance of your partner’s presence and safety. Something is a lot better than not knowing about their whereabouts at all. Just hearing your spouse’s voice and being able to give each other updates in real time will help with the long-distance relationship. You can take turns talking about your weeks, filling each other in on recent events. A simple phone call can go along way when keeping a relationship alive. Letters Due to the nature of the military, it is understandable that at times even a phone call isn’t possible. In that case, turn to the basics, and write. Writing a letter is one of the purest forms of communication there are. Letters are tangible. Reading a text from your spouse is not as personal as reading their handwriting. Texts are easily lost in our phones, but letters have sentimental value and can be saved for years to come.
Build Your Separate Routine
Another piece of deployment relationship advice would be to create your own routines. Understandably, it can be tough to get into routines as a military spouse as life is usually full of surprises, twists, and turns. Today you maybe at one station, tomorrow at another. Today you may be with your husband or wife, tomorrow they may be deployed. With so many changing variables in life, it’s important to have some constants to keep a sense of normalcy. These don’t have to be tedious routines that take up too much of your time, but finding hobbies to practice and goals to achieve can take your mind off of your spouse’s deployment. Doing so will also provide you with stories to tell the next time you and your spouse speak. Getting into routines may lead to guilt. For example, Krystel Spell, founder of Army Wife 101, said in an interview with Meditec, “Exploring Hawaii was awesome, but guilt tends to set in when you spouse is in a combat zone and your lying on a beach.” But it’s important to know that you have your own life to live, with your own identity. Enroll yourself in an educational program or start building a professional career that suits you. Remember you are no stranger to this. You had a life before you got married; personal aspirations, maybe you wanted to be a writer. This is the best time to work on your passion. You can also seek professional career advice if you are finding it hard to plan a career. The MyCAA (Military Spouse Career Advancement Account) is an education and training program, specifically tailored to the needs of military spouses. It is a branch of the Department of Defense and can be of great help in your case.
Utilize the Time to Reflect
When times get hard during your spouse’s deployment, it can be hard to keep a positive mindset. You start missing your spouse to the point where it causes physical discomfort, which is normal when loved ones are separated. However, it’s important to understand that these feelings won’t help your relationship. When we feel bad, we tend to make that rub off on people we talk with. So instead of having meaningful conversations with your spouse overseas, you may instead just talk about how sad you are, which makes the deployment even harder on your spouse. Instead, try using the time during deployments to think about the positives. Reflect on how brave you are both being, and how unique and strong your bond is between one another. While military relationships aren’t ideal, they bring out true feelings and how you care for one another.
Read Military Relationship Books
With over 600,000 other military spouses across the country. It’s fair to say that you aren’t the first, nor the last, to ensure the hardships and frustrations of a military relationship. With that said, the last piece of deployment relationship advice we will provide you with is to read books written by people who have experienced deployments, and know what it takes to make it through the other side. The military community is extremely supportive, with many spouses going out of their way to provide advice to others in their shoes. To help narrow your search, here are a few of our favorite military relationship books to read during your next deployment:
- Sacred Spaces, by Corie Weathers
- 15 Years of War, by Kristine Schellhaas
- Army Wife: A Story of Love and Family in the Heart of the Army, by Vicki Cody
- Separated by Duty, United in Love, by Shellie Vandevoorde
- Spouse Calls: Messages from a Military Life, by Terri Barnes
While there are many other great books out there about long-distance relationships, these are a handful written by military spouses that speak to the truth of deployment relationships. These authors understand the pain, fears, and concerns of today’s military spouses.
Nobody ever said life with the military was going to be easy. Keeping a strong relationship throughout deployments will take effort, trust, patience, and strength. Taking the time to write a letter, read a book, or experience the world will make time go by quicker, and your relationship stronger. For more deployment relationship advice, be sure to check back here each Monday for MilSpouse Mondays, an interview series where we discuss MilSpouse challenges with influential Military Spouse leaders!