Long Distance Relationship Advice for Military Spouses
Advice on Problems that Military Spouses May Face While Their Loved One is Away, and Tips for How to Deal with Their Absence
Dear April Masini,
My husband just found out he's being deployed to Iraq next month. I'm very proud of him and trying to be the strong wife, but inside I'm freaking out. First of all, I'm worried sick about his safety and try not to think about the fact that he might not return to me. Also, we have three kids and I'm not quite sure how I'm going to handle their busy schedules all on my own. I'm not going to be able to work as much as I have been, which means our family will be making a lot less money. All this and not to mention, I'm going to miss my husband like crazy! Do you have any advice for wives whose husbands are deployed? How we can we keep our relationships strong?"
Sincerely, Military Wife and Mother
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Military Wife and Mother,
It can be an extremely difficult time in your household when your spouse is deployed. Not only are you dealing with your personal feelings, but you also have to continue to run your household and be a good mother. While it can seem overwhelming, don’t despair -- there are some things you can do to make sure things run smoothly while your spouse is gone.
Problems and solutions, tips and advice for military spouses:
Problem: Having a loved one in the military can be especially stressful on the spouse or partner when the soldier is deployed – or more so -- deployed overseas. There is uncertainty about whether or not the deployed husband or wife is safe and when they are coming home.
- Write and number envelopes. You can’t control what goes on where your husband is, but you can keep him in your life and keep you in his, by writing regularly – whether or not you hear from him, and numbering your envelopes and letters helps him will know if he missed one or not.
- Keep a scrapbook of everything that goes on with you and the children while he’s gone so that you can cuddle up with him when he returns and go over each page and tell him what happened while he was gone. He’ll have more of a grasp of what it was he missed – rather than it being a big cloud that keeps the two of you apart. You can’t make up for the fact that he wasn’t with you, but you can keep him in the loop when he’s home.
Problem: Suddenly single mothers. It is also hard to be a suddenly single parent and children of suffer stress, as well. Just having an extra set of hands and a warm hug that your husband (or wife), who is now deployed, provided before he left, can be a big loss. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and harried.
- Get involved with other single mothers in your area or neighborhood. They are used to pooling their resources and helping each other out. You’ll learn a lot, and won’t feel so lonely. It’s nice for the children, too.
Problem: Intimacy goes missing when your husband or wife is deployed. I’m not just talking about sex. Having someone to tell your feelings to – whenever you want – is a luxury many of us take for granted.
Pressure. Be aware of not putting too much pressure on each other in phone calls or e-mails with your deployed husband. They may be few and far between and if you don’t "connect" the way you had hoped you would don’t spend the time waiting for the next phone call worrying that something is wrong. Remember that you don’t really know what’s going on over there, and he may be stressed about things he’s not telling you about. It’s probably not about you.
Problem: Financial stress of having a husband who has a good salary in a job, suddenly not have that salary, and the family has to rely on military salaries, which are comparatively low, can be great. Especially if his tour of duty is extended longer than you thought it would be.
- Spend carefully. Don’t spend money to cure anxieties. This is a time to watch your budget and look to family for help if you need. Use public parks and beaches for entertainment instead of going to dinner and movies with the kids. Make gifts instead of buying them.
Problem: Loneliness. Its common for friends and neighbors to be there for you when your husband first ships out, but it’s pretty common for the attention to whither away with time.
Community. Find a community of other military families who have loved ones deployed. They will offer support that other friends and family can't because they know what it's like firsthand. Having regular get-togethers with the adults and the families will be helpful for all of the family members.
Online bulletin boards and websites especially for military families are helpful for support and communication between families and their soldiers who are deployed. Hotlines for military families that offer information can alleviate stress.