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Handling time apart during deployments

Handling time apart during deployments

Handling Time Apart During Deployments

Everyone handles deployments differently. Some fly through them with seeming ease and others struggle with the day to day of being the one left behind. Regardless of whether you have an easy or tough time of it, there are several things to remember during a deployment to make it as stress-free and joyful as possible. Don’t let the bad stuff take over your life by bolstering yourself in the following ways.

Communicate

There is something about spending time apart that can make or break a couple. Often, one of the most difficult things to do during a deployment is to maintain communication. It’s funny, in this era of instant messaging and Skype, how effective communication and intimacy still seem to elude many. However, it doesn’t have to be unobtainable. Keeping your service member close while they are hundreds or thousands of miles away isn’t terribly difficult, but it does take work. It takes effort to maintain open lines of communication, but you can have fun while you’re doing it. Here are a couple ideas to get you thinking of creative ways to keep in touch.

  • Write your love story together. Start your story and have your spouse fill in the next piece and continue going back and forth until it is complete. You can do this in any number of ways. You can use a private blog, emails, letters, or a journal mailed back and forth!
  • Play a game together. Go low tech. Buy two copies of the game (smaller is better) and send one to your service member. Set it up somewhere where it won’t be disturbed, and play as if both of you were in the same room. Moves can be communicated via phone, text, e-mail, or video chat in real time. If you can’t be together, at least you can trounce each other in chess (or whatever game you both like). Getting the kids involved is a fun way for the whole family to be involved.

The purpose of doing something creative and fun is to give you and your service member a break from the mundane that is inevitable in long distance communication. “The check bounced. The water heater busted. Jason got stung by a wasp.” Though this type of communication is important, it reduces your exchanges to laundry lists of things that have gone wrong. Too much of this and not enough light hearted fun and loving words and communication can become a chore. You don’t have to leave out the bad stuff that happened (unless that’s something you agreed upon), but make sure there’s a healthy dose of the good stuff too.

Connect

Keep in touch with your family, friends, and coworkers. Make new friends and connect with them. Deepen your social networks. Make certain you connect with your children (if you have any) and gauge how they are doing. Don’t be afraid to ask for help for them, or for you. If you are having difficulty adjusting or managing, the family support centers on your installation are an excellent resource for counselors of all types (finance to relationships), their services are free, and they can help you find the right resource for your particular situation.

While you’re out connecting with the wider community, don’t forget to maintain the connections with your service member. Most important, don’t forget to maintain connection with yourself. You need to be okay so that you’re service member can do their job. You need to be okay so that your kids (if you have them) are okay. There are a number of ways to do this.

  • Through Touch – getting a massage, or any spa service, can help reduce feelings of isolation. Hugging your friends, your children, and cuddling any pets can help reduce stress as well. Don’t wall yourself off from touch.
  • Through Creative Play – go to a paint your pottery place, or a “wine and painting” night with friends. Express yourself and connect with your creativity.
  • Through Laughter – experience a comedy show, attend an open mic night, and ask your children or friends to tell you their best jokes. Laughter is good for you.
  • Through Physical Activity – go for a walk, take a bike ride, or try a yoga class. Boost your endorphins by working up a sweat. You can also meet some new people if you start taking classes at your local gym. Your installation gym is free and they often have a selection of fitness classes covering a wide range of physical abilities.
  • Through Faith – if you are religious or spiritual, connect with a house of worship. There are many opportunities for volunteer work, study, and socializing that can assist you in connecting with yourself.

Discover

Deployment time is a perfect opportunity to try something new. Have you been wanting to take a class in welding, pastry making, or pottery? There are so many new things for you to explore and try. Take up hiking, watercolor painting, or join a swim club. Find your passion and explore new roads to travel down. If you have children, perhaps you’ll all take Karate or tumbling lessons together. The point it to discover new things that you enjoy doing. Once your spouse returns, you can share your new love for botany or your new skill with grilling the perfect steak.

Make it Happen

The point of all this is that you have to make it happen. Sitting home, waiting, is a recipe for stagnant sadness. Allow yourself to go out and have fun, make friends, explore something new. A deployment tends to change a service member in some ways and it’s important for the one who stays back and keeps the home fires burning to grow and change as well. In this scenario, everyone wins.

If your loved one is stationed where one of our base guides are available, you can view a list of base services, phone numbers and other helpful information on our web site, www.MyBaseGuide.com.

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