You're a military spouse and it's time to face your worst fear. The dreaded "D" word has finally become a reality... and we're not talking about "divorce."
It's Deployment Time.
Whether you are brand new to the military life and about to say goodbye to your service member for the first time or you've survived a dozen of deployments, it's always best to be prepared. These tips will not only enable you to survive the deployment, but allow you to come out stronger at the end of it.
Limited communication with your spouse (even in the digital age) will, without a doubt, be the most difficult aspect of the deployment. Since this is unavoidable, plan on using this time as an opportunity to work on other relationships in your life that are important to you. Lean on family members and friends and communicate with them when you need love and encouragement. Building strong and meaningful relationships to get you through the hard times will make those times of "radio silence" a bit easier to handle.
Everyone will tell you to "stay busy" but there are healthy ways to do this... and some not so healthy ways. Expensive shopping sprees and pizza nights with the girls are fun, but too many can get you into trouble. Try finding fun, exciting and active ways to keep your mind off of the deployment, instead! Not only does exercise keep your weight in check, make you stronger and keep you feeling youthful... it relaxes the mind and gives you a more positive deployment experience. Try joining a Cross-fit gym, planning weekend trips to go hiking with friends or taking evening bike rides with the kids.
You are a military spouse. This is a fact. However, it's just one part of you. It doesn't define you and it most certainly does not mean your life has to be put on hold each time your spouse goes away. Deployments are the scariest part of embarking on your military adventure, but they also provide us military spouses with the unique opportunity to establish goals for ourselves and have the time to accomplish them. Earn your online degree while the kids are at school. Train for and complete your first marathon. Volunteer at the local women's shelter. Take cooking classes. Learn how to install that back splash in the kitchen you've been wanting. The possibilities are endless. Setting and achieving goals will keep your everyday life feeling fulfilled and keep you from feeling resentment towards your spouse or the military.
You never expect the worst to happen on the home front during a deployment, but sometimes things happen. It can be as silly as the car breaking down or as serious as a trip to the ER with one of the kids. The truth is: at some point you may face a moment where you just need your spouse, and he/she won't be there. Prepare for these moments in advance by having a plan that allows you to stay in control. Keep your FRG leader's phone number in a safe place and be sure the children know where it is, too! Ask your spouse how to reach him/her in the event of an emergency. Know where your important documents are (deployment orders, power of attorney, birth certificates, insurance policies, etc) and keep them all together for easy access. Designate a family member as your emergency contact and make sure that person is up for travel at a moment's notice if a serious situation should arise. You never know how or when tragedy could strike, so it's always best to be ready for it.
Stay strong. Easier said than done, right? There is no secret recipe to experiencing the perfect deployment. Every military spouse, marriage and situation is different. The best way to surviving this difficult time is to take one day at a time. Wake up each morning and choose to make that day better than the last. Strength is not something military spouses inherit the day they say, "I do." It is something we tirelessly work for... and then surprisingly shows up when we need it most.