A deployment may top the list of challenges a military spouse must face. The distance, the safety risk, the sporadic, often delayed communication, and everything else that comes with an assignment isn’t easily understood by most people.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop people from claiming they understand as they try to counsel you. When Military Spouse Central, hosted by Veterans United, inquired on facebook about the most hurtful things military spouses have heard, an overwhelming number of responses mentioned things said about deployments.
You knew what you were signing up for. Get over it. My husband goes away on business trips all of the time. You must think about him dying all of the time.
Sound familiar? These comments can be hurtful and frustrating, but there are ways to maintain your mood as you approach the challenges of distance.
Keep Competition Out of the Emotion
There is no question that there are differences between your neighbor’s spouse leaving town for a week and your spouse going on a year-long tour of duty. There is also no denying your neighbor’s entitlement to miss their spouse. Sometimes conflict will arise when spouses try to define that entitlement by declaring their situation as better or worse.
On the Journey of a Navy Wife blog, spouses had a great discussion surrounding the “one-up” mentality of missing someone. One commenter who posted under the name Sailor Bride said: “I hate the one upper. Significant others are ALWAYS trying to one up each other–because they miss them more, they’re gone longer, their job is more dangerous, or they have children, so they’re entitled to miss them more.”
Each situation has its own challenges, but rather than argue about the severity of each situation, try to meet each other on the level of caring for someone to the extent of missing them.
Enable Yourself to Miss
Missing someone does not make you weak and was definitely not a right you signed away when you supported your spouse’s decision to enlist.
“I hate when you talk about missing your husband and people say, ‘Well, you knew he was going to get deployed.’ Yeah, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck. It’s very insensitive,” said Sara Holycross, a reader from Military Family Central.
To miss someone is to realize you’re without access to a significant support of your wants and needs. It’s a natural response, so rather than let people make you feel weak or bad for telling them you miss a person, embrace the reality that you have a very special bond with your spouse in which many won’t experience in the same way.
Telling Spouses They’re Missed
If you’re without access to chat, email, Skype or other communication tools, and you just need a way to cope with missing your significant other, try finding a fun way to tell them you miss them. Consider:
- Write a letter for every day or send a creative care package
- Deck out a calendar or create another system for the both of you to count the days until you reunite (tentative of course).
- Buy or create little “souvenirs” throughout the day to show that they were a part of it all
- Create fun photos/stories through Photoshop or compiling your images
- Seek refuge in an article of their clothing, blanket or favorite location and send a picture with happy memories you recall