Happy to have this guest post by Megan on her best advice for a military spouse. Please email me at Julie@soldierswifecrazylife.com and let me know if you would like to write a guest post for Soldier’s Wife, Crazy Life too.
I just spend 3 hours on the phone with a spouse friend discussing spouses going through their first deployment. She’s a seasoned spouse who has been through her own trials and tribulations with deployments. I am a spouse going through my first deployment.
The more we talked the more I realized how different all her experiences are from my first. I guess the bottom line is it doesn’t matter if it’s your first or you’re tenth deployment. It doesn’t matter if it’s a 6-month deployment or a year deployment. It all sucks. So, the question is how to embrace the suck of a deployment.
I use the saying embrace the suck a lot when talking about my deployment experience. It’s become my deployment motto. It sounds harsh but it’s true.
When you are dealing with a deployment you must embrace the suck. We don’t like it. We don’t want to do it. It’s hard.
But there is nothing we can do about it. The truth is….it sucks, and we must rise to the occasion and survive it. So…. embrace the suck.
There is a lot of negative feelings surrounding the word deployment. When I married the military, I never heard one good thing that involved a deployment. It’s either terrible or sad.
The only good thing I can remember seeing or hearing is the welcome home videos online. Those are like Hallmark movies and always hit you in the feel-goods. Doesn’t matter how tough you are, watch one of those videos and you will cry! Outside of the welcome home, there isn’t a lot of good being said about a deployment.
So…. I’m going to share my suck and the positives of my first deployment. Here’s my advice for spouses going through their first deployment. Are you ready?!?!?
Pre-deployment is terrible.
There will be fighting. You will not see eye to eye on anything. You as a spouse will want to cherish everything you do together or as a family. You will want to cling to him, hug him, kiss him and you will cry a lot.
He will not. He is preparing to leave you. Most service members take this time to emotionally separate from their spouses.
Do not take this personally. They are packing bags and getting ready to do one of the hardest things they have to do……leave their families. It’s not easy for them to walk away but it’s their duty. Understand that it’s mission first and their way of dealing with being away from you at this point.
Once they leave, they will call home and sound super happy and excited.
You will not be being happy or excited. You will still be sad and adjusting to your empty house, your new single parent responsibilities, or an empty house.
They will be living their best life. I know this is hard to understand but that’s a good thing. You want them to be happy. You want them to be excited.
I once told a spouse who was frustrated with this. It’s so much better to hear your deployed spouse is living their best life than them calling you miserable. If they call you miserable, that’s when you understand you cannot help them.
It will break your heart; you will feel completely helpless and, in all honesty, there is nothing you can do for them. So, when your spouse calls home telling you how amazing it that’s a good thing. Even when life isn’t that great for you now.
I will say I am not one of those spouses who will tell you to hide your emotions from your deployed spouse.
I know there are a lot of spouses out there that will tell you not to tell your service member the bad stuff going on at home. You’re supposed to tell them it’s all rainbows, sunshine, and glitter. You’re not supposed to cry.
However, I am one of those spouses that will tell you to openly communicate with your service member. Your service member needs to know how you are feeling, that you miss them, that it’s been a hard day and that Murphy moved into your home.
I’m not saying blow the phone up but don’t emotionally shut down. Your service member still needs to know things just like when they are having a hard time, they will need you.
Murphy will move into your home.
Murphy’s law says if it will go wrong it will. Murphy will be like the boyfriend you can’t break up with. Stuff you never imaged would happen will happen.
You will have to watch YouTube videos and learn to do all kinds of stuff you never dreamed you would do. Keep in mind this is a good thing and brag to your service member. After all, not every spouse can fix a hot water heater! FYI lawn mowers need oil. Not sure who needs to hear this, but they do!
Your service member will have hard days.
There will be days when something happens, and they need you. You need to be able to give them a pep talk.
Love them from a distance and be supportive. Even when you are having a bad day. You need to be prepared to be there for them. Sometimes at the end of the day, they might be having a harder day than you are. Please recognize that and support them the best way you can.
Find your tribe!!!
And I don’t mean a tribe of civilian friends. I mean a tribe of military friends. A tribe that can understand, keep your secrets, and gives you guidance. I would not be able to survive all the cray of a deployment without my tribe of military spouses. They will guide you, love one (even from afar), and being your sounding board. You cannot do a deployment without a military spouse tribe.
Prepare yourself for the phone calls, texts, and video chats to tapper off.
There will come a time when the communication slacks off. This does not mean something is wrong. This means your service member is doing their job or enjoying some downtime.
Try not to take it personally if you do not feel emotionally connected to your service member. They are getting into their new normal just like you are. It’s a process.
I know it’s hard, it was for me. I didn’t like my husband being so far away and not wanting to constantly talk to me. But just like you are living your new life alone they are there to do a job so they can get back home to you.
Take some time to grieve.
It took me two months to pick up my husbands’ shoes off the living room floor or to fold the last load of his laundry. Leave it there until you are ready. When you are you will know. There is not a rule book on how to handle these kinds of things. It’s hard. Take your time. When you’re ready to pick the shoes up, you will.
Take this time apart as a positive thing.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard, there will be bad days but try new things. Find new hobbies, go to school, focus on work, eat junk food in bed, and watch whatever you want on TV. Deployments do not mean it’s the end of a marriage or the world. It can be a great time for you to self-reflect and discover new things about yourself.
Remember deployment is temporary.
I know going into a 13-month deployment it felt like it would last forever. It’s temporary. Your service member will come home. Everything you’re going through or will go through is temporary. Just keep that in the back of your mind, it will eventually end.
There will be anxiety when the end is coming.
I have not personally experienced the end of a deployment, yet. My husband is still gone right now. However, I did get to watch a homecoming of my best friend and her husband.
Don’t worry about the perfect coming home outfit. Wear something comfortable. You really don’t know how you will react when you see your service member.
When I saw my friend see her husband for the first time, she ran to him, threw her shoes off, and jumped in his arms. I realized I needed to wear pants and tennis shoes after watching them. It was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. Cue the Hallmark movie theme music and tears.
Finally, remember you are a military spouse!
You married the military. You love your service member. You are strong. You have made it through TDYs, PCS, Schools, trainings, and anything else the military world throws at you.
Some of you have had babies without your spouses, have raised babies without your spouse, faced all kinds of obstacles without your spouse and who knows what else. We can do this, and we will do this!
You will get through all the suck. You will cry, you will be lonely, you will have great days, you will have terrible days. It’s part of it but at the end of the day, YOU CAN DO IT!!! It’s what makes Military spouses special!
The best advice I can give it try to enjoy yourself. Take a vacation. Enjoy your alone time.
Spend time with friends and family. Go to school. Dive into work. Work in your yard. Crochet a blanket. Whatever it is that you have always wanted to do……do it!!!
It’s the perfect time to discover who you are. Love yourself and the time will pass. Remember embrace the suck. That’s all you can do. Embrace the suck and live your best life.
My name is Megan Davis. I have a full-time paying job and volunteer jobs that I love. I currently work as a Personnel Supervisor at Westaff where I match people in my community looking for jobs with companies looking for workers. I volunteer as the Family Readiness Group Leader for the 2-108 CAV Squadron in Shreveport. I work with Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN) mentoring other National Guard Spouses. Following these passions, I was recognized as the 2020-2021 Louisiana National Guard Spouse of the Year. I love helping people, specifically military spouses. One of my main goals is to make sure military spouses know they are not alone when trying to navigate through the military world. I want to help give them the courage to speak out and help build a support system for them so they can make it through all the crazy things the military life throws at us. I am also a student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe for my bachelor’s degree in risk management. Graduating from ULM has been my biggest goal for years and I am proud to say I am almost there.
Last Updated on August 19, 2021 by Julie Provost