Deployments are stressful for married couples.
Of course being separated – for many months or a year – can create stress on a marriage.
Deployment exacerbates any issues already existing in the relationship.
I’m independent and capable and efficient. Being a single mom for seven months isn’t that much of a hardship for me. I make most of the household decisions anyway. Some people gave me side eye when they learned about the deployment and I wasn’t sufficiently devastated as they expected me to be. I take things as they come.
I know some spouses who can’t even go to the store alone, much less successfully navigate a deployment without loads of daily help from friends and family. But, to each her own, I guess.
We actually made this deployment decision together, to strengthen our marriage, and help his career.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, right?
It takes lots of extra work to make marriage work in the military, and especially during long separations.
How to maintain a successful marriage during deployment:
We live in an era of easy communication. The Internet makes the impossible possible. Thousands of miles and oceans apart, and we can see each other face to face and chat daily. My grandma didn’t have that luxury, only seeing my grandpa on shore duty after months at sea, raising their two boys alone.
I’m not into small talk but I have to make myself available and chatty even when I don’t feel like it. I’m an extreme introvert.
He doesn’t care about care packages. He doesn’t want much. He asks for K Cups and garlic salt. So exciting. Also, some deployment locations limit items such as pork products or comic books, and it just stresses me out that he might get in trouble if I don’t read the ingredients on a jerky packet closely enough. I’m not going to waste time, effort, and money sending things he doesn’t want or need and that he’ll just give away to others.
He’s not much of a reader. I would love to read a book together and discuss it. But he’s not into that. I do often send him screenshots of my eBooks with highlighted text.
We don’t really watch the same shows much either. We sometimes recommend movies or shows to each other, but we don’t watch anything together regularly.
He likes sugarcoating and I’m very blunt. Texts and emails seem worse without any tone or facial expressions to lighten them. We can’t really afford to get offended.
I don’t want to come at him with only problems and bad news. I have to temper everything. But it seems that everything that can will go wrong during a deployment.
We have to make more of an effort to communicate well since we’re apart for a long time.
I’m using this opportunity of 7+ months of separation pay to pay off the credit card and not acquire any more debt.
I’m not a shopper anyway, so it’s easy for me to be frugal.
The kids and I keep busy and don’t fall into retail therapy to make ourselves feel better. We shop for needs and a few wants and items for the holidays.
I seem to save lots of money on utilities, household expenses, and by staying home, making it easier to pay off the debt. So much less laundry!
I suppose temptation might be an area for many marriages to worry about. I’m not very social and I’m also very private. We’re loyal. We’re committed. It’s not really an issue.
Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely.
I rarely talk to people, and certainly not men. I’m not around men. I’m not around anyone, really. We don’t go to church anymore. There aren’t any stay at home, homeschooling dads in my circles for me to be concerned. I don’t even chat online with anyone except my family members.
I’m not one to be easily tempted and I would recognize the potential danger and immediately extricate myself because I want to maintain integrity.
It might be harder for some people in different circumstances. It might be difficult for lonely and bored deployed members seeing certain others day in and day out, in close quarters. Maintaining professional distance is important.
I don’t believe in a deployment sex pact or “what happens in deployment, stays in deployment.” That’s not healthy.
I’m not sure what some spouses are up against, but guarding hearts and minds and removing oneself from dangerous situations is imperative.
I’ve read about too many marriages breaking up after deployments due to affairs and it’s very heartbreaking.
During the first deployment, he completed a training course that he needed to make the next rank. That was convenient and easy for us.
He goes to the gym a lot. There’s not much else for him to do.
I read a lot. Like, a whole lot. And there are no interruptions for me now!
I’m constantly improving myself. I collect knowledge.
It’s easy for me to use these months alone to read more, watch more uplifting shows, write, research, educate myself, walk in nature, pray, think…and all the things that too often get interrupted on weekends and evenings.
I keep him updated on my progress and what I’m learning so he’s not totally lost and thinks I’m a different person when he returns. That’s a very real consideration. People grow, and can more easily grow apart while separated. It’s a concern I actively counter with communication.
As a stay at home, homeschooling mom, this is my job. And now I’m doing it mostly alone for many months.
The kids keep on carrying on while Dad is away.
Of course, they rely on me as their mom for almost everything anyway. It takes some pushing and prodding for them to ask Dad for anything even when he’s home, and certainly they learn he’s not available to help much or take the load off me when he’s away.
I remind him to ask them about what they’re learning, reading, doing – to keep communication open and maintain relationship while he’s away. And I have to coax everyone during reintegration.
It’s different as every stage. Babies and toddlers feel uncomfortable. Young kids are confused and scared. Tweens and teens feel diffident and abandoned.
With the time change, it’s even harder to connect sometimes with his work schedule. We have to make extra effort.
He trusts me to maintain a peaceful home for these kids – who are living for 8 months without a father, except on FaceTime. I have to make it as special and good as possible.
We’re in this together.
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A nifty little checklist to keep marriage strong during deployment.
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