The major special circumstance that makes military marriages especially hard are constant seperations.
During this time for our country, deployments are a way of life for military members and their families.
They are inevitable.
You don’t ask “if” your soldier will deploy to war…you ask “when”.
Having your spouse away at war for twelve months, or longer, at a time while you are home raising children and taking care of the home is bound to put stress on your marriage.
The key element to surviving this time with a strong and growing marriage is communication.
Just as good communication is the key to surviving any relationship, it is even more so in a relationship experiencing this type of stress.
I would like to share with you some things that we did to communicate during the deployment that helped us to survive and continue to grow in our marriage.
1. Have a plan. Before the deployment begins, sit down with your spouse and discuss a plan for how you will communicate with one another. Are you going to use the phone? Are you going to e-mail? Are you going to write letters via snail mail?Â Will you use a web cam? Will there be daily or weekly phone calls? What is the best time for phone calls, keeping time differences and children’s schedules in mind? You need to realize that these plans may change, but be honest and open about your expecations and desires in this area.
2. Talk on the phone daily. During both of his deployments, Keith was able to call at least once a day. We started out the first deployment thinking that he would only call once a week. That’s what happened during his first few weeks there as transition occured, but after that he began to call once a day and continued to unless there was an emergency that prevented him from using the phones. This kept us connected to one another and it was so nice to be able to hear his voice at least once a day…even if it was for a short amount of time.
3. E-mail short messages throughout the day. This depends on the availability of internet where your spouse is located. During Keith’s first deployment, we rarely e-mailed. But during his last one, we e-mailed each other quite frequently. We were able to send articles to each other and comment back and forth on them. We were able to talk in more detail about our day that we were able to on the telephone. We sent encouraging notes and bounced ideas off of each other throughout the day. We both use g-mail and I highly recommend it because our e-mails to one another flowed like a conversation.
4. Skype or Webcam. We did not begin using Skype to communicate through web cam until a few months into Keith’s most recent deployment but it made a HUGE difference. He was able to see the children and could see them grow and develop through actually seeing them and talking to him. They were able to see their daddy and talk to him on the computer. This was especially good for Will who was ten months old when his Daddy deployed. It kept him connected and helped them to form a bond. Poor little boy was a little confused when his Daddy came home and wasn’t on the computer anymore!
5. Send care packages. Don’t forget or get too busy to send your spouse tokens of your love. I didn’t get to send as many packages as I would have liked, but I did send much more than during Keith’s first deployment. Include their favorite foods or snacks, fun gifts, artwork from your children, cards, love notes, etc. The things you include in care packages don’t have to be expensive or elaborate, they just need to show that you care. That’s all.
This is just a short list of a few things that worked for our family to keep the lines of communication going during our deployments. There are many more things that can be added to this. If you have been through a deployment or lenthy seperation from your spouse, please contribute your own ideas in the comments section.
When we stop communicating with our loved ones, we stop their involvement in our lives. This makes coming together after a deployment so much harder than it has to be. When the lines of communication have been flowing and you have been growing together as a couple during your time apart, your time connecting when the deployment is over will be so much sweeter.
Military marriages do take more work because of the hardship of deployments and lengthy seperations, but they are not hopeless. If you and your spouse are struggling to come together either before, during or after your deployment, I would encourage you to seek help in your chaplain.
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