Is It Wrong To Share Problems With Your Deployed Spouse?
I sat around the table with a few girlfriends, our eyes riveted on our friend as she shared her recent experience at a spouses’ meeting.
She is married to a Navy SEAL, and a woman in leadership told the ladies not to share problems with their husbands when they are deployed or in training.
This woman declared that any struggles at home could distract the men from their jobs, so the wives need to keep personal issues to themselves.
My eyes widened with surprise and I glanced to check my friends’s reactions, most of whom are also Navy wives. They looked concerned too as our friend relayed how she left that meeting feeling totally isolated and overwhelmed. She felt she shouldn’t reach out to her husband for any type of support when he leaves.
That lonely feeling
If you’ve been through a deployment, you know that feeling:
You ache for the sound of his voice. You need to vent like a raging volcano to someone who understands and will tell you everything will be ok. You’re desperate for the safety and security of a ginormous bear hug.
But when he calls, you freeze.
Do I tell him? Do I unload or keep it to myself?
The conflict inside flows like butterflies released from a cage, fluttering through your mind and confusing your senses.
How do you know when to share and when not to?
I’m not going to say I know your situation, your significant other’s job, or what’s best for the two of you.
One thing I know for sure: the command or other spouses can’t dictate your relationship.
We are married to our spouse, not to the “military.” Other spouses (such as myself) may share tips and advice on occasion. Most people share with good motives, in a well-meaning way. However: You and your spouse get to decide what your relationship is like. No one else– it’s a personal choice.
Deployment reality bites
In a military relationship, we do have to find other means of support at times. You may not be able to share problems with your deployed spouse like you would when they’re home.
Time zones, location, phone or wifi connection all affect how much emotional support you have from your significant other at a given time.
Example: Submarine spouses may not get any communication for weeks. Special forces members may not be able to engage with their spouses at home in same way that someone in a non-combat role could.
But that doesn’t mean we have to carry our burdens alone. Reaching out to friends, family and neighbors helps us all stay grounded and get the support we need.
Talk it over, talk it over baby
How you handle your relationship is completely unique between the two of you.
Creating healthy boundaries helps both of you get on the same page about the amount of emotional support you can expect. If one of you requests that you put off a looming deep discussion during a certain mission, time of day, or stressful phase of life, hopefully you can respect each other’s wishes.
Some people can handle more than others.
Some service members may need to distance themselves emotionally to fulfill their mission while others can strike a balance between work and home life. There is no one “right way” to do it.
- The command and/or spouses’ group don’t know the intimacies of your marriage and how your relationship should look.
- The command and/or a spouses group can’t dictate how much support your significant other gives you while deployed. They may control the schedule, but you can discuss expectations and what works for you both.
- Before deployment begins, make it a priority to have that conversation. It helps to have a mutual understanding for how and when you share problems with your deployed spouse.
- You will likely have to find outside support, but not because someone says not to “bother” your spouse with your problems. Only because you understand the nature of his/her job and have decided together what’s best to share and what needs to wait. ***Side note– I suggest having outlets for support from friends when your sailor is home too.
What happened with my friend?
We encouraged our friend to speak to her husband about the kind of support she could expect from afar. She feared bringing it up but discovered that communicating about it helped a lot.
She felt a huge relief about the open communication they began, though it’s still a work in progress. (kind of like the rest of us and our relationships– always changing and growing).
I encourage you to gather the courage necessary to start that conversation- it’s worth it!
Grab these deployment relationship tips.