Deployment is a large adjustment for a couple. The military service member might usually have had certain responsibilities at home that the spouse must now undertake. Because deployment is a change, some spouses might decide to keep the household as similar as possible to normal, but others might choose to do things differently.
Whether or not spouses have children, deployment is a time when habits and behaviors tend to change temporarily, both out of necessity and out of choice.
These changes can either relate to mundane chores or overall lifestyle patterns. The changes for spouses at home during deployment can include tasks such as taking out the garbage, getting kids ready for school and cooking meals. Changes regarding lifestyle can include sleeping habits, running family finances, picking up a new hobby and getting a part-time job.
Some spouses, like this military spouse, might sleep in later than usual or need background noise, such as a movie, to fall asleep. She also describes how it is difficult to find the resolve to cook full meals when her spouse is gone because leftovers would spoil.
Of course, some changes might not be negative. If spouses have different driving styles, the spouse at home might enjoy being able to drive a certain way or wear certain clothes he or she might not typically wear when the service member is home.
Getting used to the lifestyle changes, however, might take more time. “When Andrew was gone, our whole world changed,” said military spouse Christine Lay. “I was a single mom. That takes a toll after a little while.”
Lay said that in order to keep busy, she would spend time with other wives by going to the commissary, going out to lunch and letting their children play. She also said her husband usually took out the garbage when he was home, so she would often forget to take it out until there were three or four bags sitting by her kitchen door.
“My bond with my friends became tighter,” Lay said. “The friends I’ve made here at Fort Bliss are friends I will never forget or lose touch with. There are always those days where you feel like you can’t do it anymore, and that’s when you need that little pick-me-up from those friends, and that’s what they are there for.”
For Veteran Military Wife, author of Life Lessons of a Military Wife blog, her main habit changes dealt with everyday tasks and communication. “I run the household and the finances anyway, so the only change for us when he is gone is that we sometimes like to ‘play hookey’,” she said. “We’ll do things like eat breakfast for dinner or stay up late when we really shouldn’t. I’m also more lenient on the kids but probably shouldn’t be!”
Because her husband is not in areas where he can easily talk on the phone or Skype, they resort to email for the majority of their communication. They share daily updates, advice and interesting pictures or stories.
Whether significant or not, changes in habits and behavior are sure to result from deployment. Figuring out what works best when those habits change is the key to a successful deployment, relationship and family.
Photo courtesy of Christine Lay