Military spouses learn to cope with the additional challenges and responsibilities they face with their spouse’s dangerous work, whether deployed or at home. Spouses at home may be in a constant state of worry, but it can come as a shock when a close call takes away any sense of invincibility. Spouses can no longer deny the realities they keep themselves from considering.
When a spouse hears of a close call, they may be overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. Here are some ways to help cope with the challenges of distance and dangerous work:
Knowing that your service member’s job is dangerous and having to face how dangerous it really is are two totally different feelings.
Avoid Worst-Case Scenarios and Gossip
Longtime military spouses often advise those going through a deployment to avoid the news. Any word of a plane, helicopter or maritime crash or report of an ambush, IED, RPG or other attack can send spouses into a panic. While spouses can’t always avoid alarming news, they can take some deep breaths and talk to their understanding community before ruminating themselves into worst-case scenarios. Be sure to talk to those who are calm and comforting as opposed to exposing yourself to hearsay and rumors. No reason to fear a close call for no reason.
Handling the News of a Close Call
If the fear comes to fruition, a spouse may be overwhelmed with their inability to steal their spouse from dangerous circumstances and comfort them. It’s not something those at home can control, so focusing on the things they can control can be of help. Consider:
Writing a letter or creating a list of the good memories you have with your spouse. It may seem counterintuitive, especially when walling up emotions can be much more attractive, but focusing on good times can help you appreciate every day and take each day one-by-one, close calls one-by-one, until the time apart ends.
As joyful as a phone call from your spouse can be, there is often a bit of anxiety mixed in.
As the negative thoughts and images start to go through your mind, interrupt them and focus on something you can control. Imagine a plan for your next gardening project, art project or picking out a new book to read.
Keep Busy. Military spouse LDCampbell was on the phone with her deployed husband when she heard a bomb explode just before the line went dead. For five days she had to wait to hear news from the Navy. Through the agony, she tended to her son and made sure they both stayed busy with extracurricular activities and quality family time.
Little Things to Remember
The main piece of advice is to remain calm and focus your mind on positive things. Here are a few helpful tips:
Draw from what you can. You may not be able to hold your spouse’s hand after a close call, but you can take a handwritten letter and feel the presence of the hands that wrote it.
The silence around a close call is agonizing, but laughter can be your friend. Get social and try to enjoy yourself as you hope for the best.
Live every moment as if it may be your last.
Surround yourself with people who understand. Spouses are relieved when they find they are not the only ones dealing with the circumstances and that their reactions are not crazy or even out of the ordinary.
How do you handle close calls and manage your fears while your spouse is deployed? We want to hear from you, leave us a comment!
Adrienne May is a military spouse. Her husband is an Army soldier and now is serving in the Army National Guard. Together they have three children from preschool to pre-teen. Adrienne is actively involved in family readiness and disaster preparedness on the state level and advocating for military family programs, homecoming transition programs and adequate veterans benefits.
Military Spouse Central aims to be a resource for military spouses as they deal with overseas deployment, sudden PCS orders and everything else that comes with marrying a member of the Armed Forces.
Adrienne May maintains Military Spouse Central for Veterans United Home Loans, the nation's leading VA-approved lender. Adrienne is wife to a National Guard solider and has built up a massive library of resources, tips, articles and contributors for military spouses from all branches!