5 Things You MUST Know To Survive Deployment
“Military Spouse Basic Training” Series
There are few things more terrifying than a deployment looming in the near future. The dread of them can at times be worse than the actual thing. You might be wondering how you will survive deployment… how will you make it through the many months apart?
I’m not going to lie. Deployment is hard. But it’s also doable. I can say that because I’ve been through it multiple times. And so have thousands of other people. I know you can get through it, and I’m here to help you. That’s why I’ve created Step 2 in the “Military Spouse Basic Training” Series. I want to give you a ton of tools to help you thrive throughout your separation period.
Today we’ll discuss these topics: (and I’ll provide resources as well)
- Tasks to do before deployment
- Managing communication with your spouse
- Practical ways to Show you care
- Emotions– how do you deal with them?
- Homecoming- how to prepare
#1. Before Deployment, Check Off These Tasks:
It’s vital to make a few preparations before your loved one deploys:
Update your wills “just in case.” No one wants to think about this but it’s important. Plus, it can give you peace of mind knowing everything is in order if something happens. Don’t wait until the last minute!
Make a list of people to call if you need help. Could be for babysitting, car trouble, handy tasks around the house, emergencies like a water pipe breaking etc.
Update cell phones. Most cell carriers allow you to turn off the phone of a deployed person and have it on “hold” so you don’t have to pay for it.
Arrange Vehicle Storage. Will you need to store one or more vehicles? If so you will likely need to turn them on every couple weeks or month to keep the battery from dying.
Attend Your Pre-Deployment Meeting. Be sure to attend your command’s pre-deployment meeting. This will give you more info specific to your situation. I’ll admit, the ones I’ve been to have been somewhat dry and long… but I also learned important things. If this is your first deployment, I highly recommend attending.
#2- Manage Your Communication Expectations
When we love someone, we want to share everything with them, tell them about our days, and include them in our every day life. Deployment makes this difficult if not impossible at times. It can be a very tough adjustment, especially the first time. Who am I kidding, it’s tough every time. But as you go, you learn tips and tricks that help smooth things over. Here are some of those tips to help you out!
Find Out What To Expect:
Our marriage counselor told us, “Unmet expectations = frustration” and he could not have been more right. Well, surprise, but deployment is all about the unknown and our expectations may wildly differ from reality.
For example, you may be able to email or even FaceTime with your honey every day. OR you may not hear from him for weeks. You don’t want to be home crying every night because you thought he’d call but he didn’t, when in reality he won’t be able to call for another week.
The most helpful thing is to have a discussion before he goes about what you both expect. Here are some points to consider and talk over with him:
- What is the particular deployment site like?
- What is his living situation?
- What’s the time zone/time difference between you two
- What will his work schedule be like
- What is your daily schedule and how does that correlate with his schedule (when is the best time to communicate?)
- How much do you anticipate being able to talk on the phone? Email? Facetime?
- Do you plan to write any letters?
- Would you like emails and/or letters from me, even if you can’t reply to them right away or at all?
- Do you want care packages and what types of things do you want in them?
- How will you communicate with me if something goes wrong (in that area of the world, etc)?
If it’s his first deployment or first to a new area, he may not know what to expect either. This is where flexibility, patience and staying connected to your support community come in. It can tear you apart when you don’t hear from him or miss a phone call. Make sure you have people you can turn to for help and encouragement. A supportive community is a MUST!
Remember: Just because they aren’t calling or emailing doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Sometimes they’re tired or their schedule doesn’t permit it. Stay strong and let them know you’re there for them!
#3- Send Care Packages
An AWESOME way to communicate with your loved one is to send care packages. One military wife told me that decorating and sending care packages was what got her through the deployment! It was a good outlet for her to focus on during that time.
I have written several articles on care packages so I’ll link those below. You’ll see some pretty extravagant ideas along with the more basic ones, but just remember: the most important thing is that it comes from YOU and is something special you create for your man. It’s not about having the best- most – perfectest box. It’s about showering your honey with love. Even if you don’t decorate it (I am not much of a decorator!) it will be just fine!
#4- Prepare For The Emotional Challenges:
There’s nothing more terrifying as a new military significant other than your first deployment looming. I’m not going to lie. It’s hard and it’s scary. But it’s also doable.
You may be wondering…
- How will I go about my normal life without him?
- How will I cope with sleeping alone?
- How will I be able to not worry about him?
- Who will I talk to if he’s not there to vent to, to listen to me, and to encourage me?
In the weeks leading up to the deployment, it can get stressful for both of you. Try to just enjoy your time together. You’ll be glad you made the most of it. When they first leave, it is an emotional roller coaster. Tears in the shower, wanting to eat the entire carton of ice cream, watching tv all day on the couch in your pajamas… yup I’ve been there.
I can tell you from experience, the intensity of feelings you experience those first few days will subside: it won’t feel that horrible the entire time. It’s an adjustment period, and it will get better.
In fact, most spouses I’ve talked to who have not only managed to survive deployment but have thrived during them, have made it a point to enjoy their lives and do fun things when their loved ones were gone. I recommend keeping very busy! You will certainly have tough days at different times, and of course you’ll miss them like CRAZY, but having fun helps the time pass and keeps you from getting stuck in the difficult emotions you’ll experience.
The best way to tackle the emotional aspects of deployment are:
- Create and foster a supportive community
- Connect with other Military wives
- Get involved on my Facebook page
- Hang with local friends & family
- Utilize social media
- FaceTime with friends & family far away
- Stay busy and stay connected to people
- ASK for help if you need it
- Utilize the base chaplain, your branch’s family services and activities center.
- Get my ebook, “The New Military Wife’s Guide To Deployment: How To Feel Positive, Motivated And Fulfilled During Your Time Apart.“
#5- Prepare For Homecoming
Once deployment begins, it’s natural to start thinking about Homecoming. As the time gets closer, I always got a bit nervous wondering what it would be like to have him back. This last time it was a completely new adjustment because we now had a daughter! They use the big word “Reintegration” because it truly is a complex readjustment to life with you (and the family). Know that it could take even half as long as they were gone to adjust to life again with them home.
Remember that they are coming home to YOU, not the perfect dress, perfect meal, perfect house. Prepare so you feel comfortable, but don’t think that everything has to be exactly right. Life is messy, and adjusting back to life with your sweetie will be messy. And fun and awesome.
Guide To Deployment:
“The New Military Wife’s Guide To Deployment: How To Feel Positive, Motivated And Fulfilled During Your Time Apart.” (my ebook)
Care Packages For Navy Sailors- Ideas For Encouraging Your Man
16 Cheap Care Package Ideas That Fit In A Large Envelope
Military Care Packages Ideas- A Collection…
Care Packages 101- Five Steps To Create An Awesome Care Package
Life as a Navy Wife: The Fact Is, They Call Me Dependent (my most popular post of all time)
My Deployment Flashback: That Lonely Feeling
Finding Help And Strength In Our Trials
6 Ways To Manage Stress
Navy Ship Homecoming 101: What REALLY happens on the Pier?
My Homecoming Photos
Top 10 Homecoming Do’s and Don’ts List (Free Download)
You’re Ready For Step 3: 6 Vital Keys For A Successful Military Relocation
Go back to Step 1: Tricare Prime or Tricare Standard?