Whether it is your first deployment or your eighth, the time spent away from your soldier is never easy. I have been through multiple deployements, and I still never know what to expect. You can try to prepare but let’s be honest, we know it‘s coming and the day it arrives, we are still not prepared. It never gets easier to say “see you later” while deep inside you don’t know what will happen over the next several months. It’s not easy putting your crying children in the car while trying to hold yourself together, telling them Daddy will be back soon. It’s not easy returning home alone or sleeping on the couch because you can’t stand being in the bed alone.
But what is easy is supporting the solider you fell in love with. The one that makes your heart skip a beat when you think of them. The one that you would do anything for. The one you can’t live without. It’s easy to love them but how do you stay connected when they are thousands of miles away… The answer isn’t cookie cutter.
First thing to remember is, it’s not the same for every marriage. You have to do what works best for you and your soldier. What works for you two, may not work for another spouse or couple. The most important thing is to focus on you and your soldier.
Second, communication; this is the key. Have video chats, write letters, send pictures, send emails, even make care packages. These are all great ways to stay connected and busy. Don’t get set on routine calls. This could cause you to worry, when in reality their schedule may just have changed or the phones are down. Getting phone calls and video chats are always the best. During these chats try to stay positive and focus on what is good. Don’t avoid the challenging issues. We know as a military spouse they’re is going to be hard conversations over the phone. Be open and honest with your soldier when they have time to listen. Try to make decisions about kids, finances, and family matters together. You are not alone during this deployment.
Also remember, they are a soldier. They can’t always tell you about their day. I’m sure they want to but honestly, they probably can’t. They can’t tell you why they are frustrated, or about how their day didn’t go according to plan or why they didn’t get any sleep last night. Their job may sometimes wear them down but that doesn’t mean they don’t miss you and want to talk about your day. They are probably having a hard time too.
Third is celebrate. Don’t let being apart take away the fun. Celebrate important dates, accomplishing goals, and holidays. It is hard to enjoy things without them but you have to take care of yourself too. During those special dates, sending those Pinterest inspired over the top care packages with items for them to celebrate with. The last thing that you have to remember is that you may feel alone but you’re not. Your soldier is going through this with you. You are in this together. And soon the deployment will end, but your love for each other will not. Soon you will make it through this deployment and it will seem like a distant memory.
Written by Kimberly Clagg (Board President and Coordinator at Fort Benning)