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Absence Makes The Heart Grow Stronger - Military Deployment Marriage Survival Guide

Updated on January 25, 2017
My husband (who has been in the Army over 15 years) and I after one of his many deployments
My husband (who has been in the Army over 15 years) and I after one of his many deployments | Source

If you are married into the military than chances are you have gone through at least one deployment. Me, I have gone through 12 so far. I've endured every length of deployment that this country has had from the 4 month long one to the 15 month long one. I have to say that none of these deployments are easy on me. I have seen so many marriages split up because of deployments and have seen so many people get hurt in the process.

Luckily, my marriage is great. I have found an excellent routine to these deployments that helps keep my mind focused on my husband coming home and how to stay positive during the hard times. Granted, it's never easy, but it is possible to survive a deployment when married to a soldier.

Can you survive?

If you are married into the military, have you been able to survive the deployments?

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Surviving the first half of the deployment

The first half of a deployment is full of worries and stress. Some of the main things I worry about at the beginning of a deployment are:

  • How am I going to take care of the kids all by myself?
  • What if something goes wrong with the house?
  • How am I ever going to sleep alone?
  • What am I going to do to pass the time?
  • What if something happens to my husband?
  • How am I going to visit family while he is gone?
  • How do I get ahold of him?
  • What if he doesn't call?
  • But the News said. . . . . .

Now, out of all of these things the News one is the worst. I have found that it is NOT good to watch the news while your spouse is deployed. Yes it is good to keep up on what is going on over there but you never truely know if it is your spouse who got hurt or what bombs exploded where or if they will be the ones who have to stay to help out longer. The news is not your friend during deployments.

All the rest of the worries and stresses work themselves out over time. You learn how to manage your time during the day to take care of your kids and your home. You learn that sometimes it is best if family and friends come to you instead of you going to them. You cope with the days you don't hear from your spouse and find ways to keep your mind off the negative stuff.

Took the kids to Fantasy Lake with a bunch of friends to help pass the time.
Took the kids to Fantasy Lake with a bunch of friends to help pass the time. | Source
I put the kids in Climbing Club so they are able to keep active and help the time fly by.
I put the kids in Climbing Club so they are able to keep active and help the time fly by. | Source

Stay active and busy

Some of the things I do during the first half of a deployment are:

  • Hang out with friends and family. I try and surround myself with people I love and that understand a little of what I'm going through. Being able to share time with them is a huge part of being able to survive a deployment. Since I have three kids I do not always get adult time and if I do not get out there to visit people I would go insane.
  • If something in the house breaks, I make a list and if it needs fixed right away I figure out how to fix it. Some things can be done by yourself like changing light bulbs, changing air filters in your home, checking the oil in your car, etc. But others like a broken water pipe, a failed throttle control censor in your only vehicle, or a window is broken, it's probably best to get a professional's help.
  • To pass the time I'm constantly reading books, volunteering at his work or the kids' school, helping friends and family when I can and staying active at the gym or running on the road in our neighborhood. It's best to stay as healthy as possible. I have gone through the whole, mope around the house, eat a lot of food, "woe is me" phase and it's not as great as it sounds. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and make sure you take great care of yourself for when you are reunited with your soldier.

One of the many books I have read

Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and Women in Uniform
Married to the Military: A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and Women in Uniform

Whether you’re dating, engaged, or married to an active military service member or reservist—or you’ve just signed up yourself—you may feel as if you’ve somehow married the United States military! While there are plenty of orientation books for him, there are almost no handy, user-friendly resources for you. Meredith Leyva, a military wife and founder of CinCHouse.com, the Internet’s largest community for military wives, girlfriends, and women in uniform, details everything you need to know to manage day-to-day issues and get on with the adventure of military life. From relocation to deployment, protocol to finances, and career to kids, Leyva offers time-tested advice about:

-Keeping your love life together during deployments

-Relocating yourself and your family around the world

-Maintaining your own career when you're expected to move every three years

-Understanding what pay and benefits you're entitled to—and how to maximize them

-Translating those odd acronyms and jargon

Written by a seasoned military wife, this smart and savvy guide will help you take control at every point of your service member's career—from filing marriage papers as newlyweds to choosing prenatal and child care when you start a family to figuring out his pension when he's ready to retire.

 
A love letter from my husband.  Be still my heart!
A love letter from my husband. Be still my heart! | Source

Keep in touch

  • Sending Care Packages - Care packages are the perfect way to send your spouse a little bit of home while they are so far away. They can't always get the things they like over there, soaps, deodorants, snacks, etc. so these are the things I'm always sending to my husband. I also send a little present from the kids, hand written letters from me and family and just anything that I know will make him smile.
  • Send messages via the internet - Whether it is Skype, Tango, Facebook or emails it is always nice to send messages to your spouse. Even if it is a short "I love and miss you" or a 5 page single spaced typed letter that is attached to an email, it's nice to have those little things that you can read over and over again.
  • Call on the phone - Although you can not call your spouse overseas, it is still great to get those phone calls and to hear their voice on the other line. Nothing brightens up my day then a phone call from my husband.

Remember the little things

Life isn't always about the major things that happen in our lives. When it comes to those we love that are away from us for long periods of time we have to remember the little things. I love sitting in a quiet room and thinking about all the little things I love about my husband. I also think of the little things he does that annoy me but I miss so much (although I never thought I would). A few of the little things I always remember are:

  • His laugh and smile when I do or say something dumb
  • The way he always touches me when he passes by
  • I think of how I actually miss having to clean toothpaste off his sink
  • I miss seeing his clothes in the laundry
  • I miss how the kids giggle when he's around
  • I remember how late we would stay up doing nothing but being with each other

Remembering these things makes me long for him to be home. Many times my heart aches for him to come home and tears will make their way down my face. Being apart is never easy, but it's the little things and knowing he will be coming home to me that make my heart grow fonder for him.

Our three kids at a fair where they got to hold a baby aligator
Our three kids at a fair where they got to hold a baby aligator | Source
Silly pictures make my husband smile because he misses seeing us as much as we miss seeing him.
Silly pictures make my husband smile because he misses seeing us as much as we miss seeing him. | Source
The kids all ready for school and growing too fast.
The kids all ready for school and growing too fast. | Source
Just me, sending a pretty picture to my husband.
Just me, sending a pretty picture to my husband. | Source

Take pictures

I am a very avid picture taker. I take pictures almost every day. With a deployed spouse it is best to take pictures of yourself and your kids and family so they, too, can see how you have all changed since they have been gone. Here are some ideas for taking pictures:

If you have kids:

  • Take them to the park and take the camera with you.
  • When doing school projects take pictures.
  • Always take pictures at school functions such as plays, parades, or awards ceremonies.
  • Take pictures of them sleeping (almost always their cutest moments).

If it's just you:

  • When out with friends have them take some pics of you to send to your spouse.
  • Set up a boudiour session with a photographer you trust for some nice sexy shots (not XXX shots)
  • Take cheesey photos of yourself in the bathroom mirror or holding the camera yourself.
  • Take pictures of things you have done or places you have been.

Family and Friends - It's always fun to have a get together and take pictures just to send to your spouse. Do little videos from everyone and send them over on a flash drive or attach them to an email. They can be funny videos or serious ones. I do a little of both.

Last but not least

The other main thing I do during a deployment to make myself remember all the amazing things about my husband, or just to vent about a bad day, is to keep a journal. Some days I feel the need to write him a letter in this journal. Other days I just feel like telling what a horrible day I have had. When the kids do something exciting and new, I write it down so I don't forget to tell my spouse the next time we talk. I don't ever mail these journals to him but he knows they are here and that I write in them often and I've told him he is always welcome to read them. I have no secrets from my husband and I honestly believe that is the key to our 13 year marriage.

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