“Distance between two hearts is not an obstacle…rather a beautiful reminder of just how strong true love can be.”
Let’s address the elephant in the room…deployment sucks! There is no getting around that first punch-to-the-gut sensation when you hear the words, “We found out when we deploy.”
Deployment can put a lot of strain on a family. Our service members miss a lot of things. For our last deployment, our oldest was just ten months old – my husband missed a lot his “firsts.” Now, he’s going to be 4, and his baby brother is only six months old, so Daddy will miss all the firsts again.
It’s not just about keeping the love alive in your relationship for you and your spouse; you need to keep it alive for your children as well. We adults understand why our service member has to leave, but the kids just know that Mommy or Daddy is gone. My husband has been gone for the past few weeks and every day our son tells me he misses Daddy, or he asks where Daddy is. If I am on the phone with my mom and I say something about my husband, our son will start yelling, “Nana! Daddy is on his ship!”
Believe it or not, this will be our fifth deployment. I can tell you that the first one was like a crash course in what not to do! We fought like crazy and we let every little issue get under our skins, driving a wedge between us. You CANNOT do that! You have to call a time out. If you are fighting in real time or even in email, tell each other to take a break, reevaluate the situation on your own, and then talk again. Fighting won’t do anyone any good, and, honestly, it’ll just make you feel more alone and disconnected from each other.
To help us stay connected, my husband and I keep deployment journals. Communications can go down at any time, and this way we can still keep each other up-to-date with our day. My husband and I each have a journal, and when he returns home we switch books and let the other read what we’ve written. Sometimes those journals are our way of saying things we aren’t sure the other one wants to hear when we’re apart.
Another fun way to stay connected is to do “couples questions.” Each person asks and answers a question. It can create a really good discussion and you just might learn more about your spouse! Silly or serious, there are no stupid questions Click here for some great questions to get started! (http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/list-100-questions-ask-your-partner-date-nights.html)
To help keep your kids connected to Mom or Dad, create a deployment wall. I love this one! (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/254523816414281289/) Pinterest has SO many ideas. Keep pictures your kids’ rooms so they can see Mommy or Daddy during the day. Set up a “mailbox” (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/254523816415816067/) for them to fill with pictures or letters they’ve created, and then add those to a care package or make a special trip to the mailbox or post office. The most important thing to remember is to keep your children involved. If they cry, cry with them. They are experiencing emotions that they don’t know how to express, and if they see that you are feeling the same, it may make it easier for them to talk things out with you. Answer their questions as best you can (but don’t throw too much information at them).
Deployment is hard on everyone. No matter how many you’ve been through, it’s hard. Your life feels upside down and sometimes everything goes wrong at once – Murphy’s Law indeed! It’s up to us to keep it all together. It may seem like a lot of pressure, but we are what will keep the love alive for our heroes. Ultimately, you are the support for your service member but they are your support, too. You’re never really alone; you are always under the same sky.
Angela and her Sailor, Dwight, are high school sweethearts. After graduation, Dwight enlisted in the Navy and said “I do” to Angela soon after. Two adorable boys (Michael and Joey) and four deployments later (with #5 coming up next month), the Martins are rocking and rolling along. Originally from San Diego, they currently call Virginia their home and have fallen in love with it – “this state is beyond beautiful!”