Tips for Couples Dealing with Deployment
It’s never easy when your partner is far away for significant lengths of time. With over 140,000 soldiers already deployed , many military spouses may be very worried about the events in the coming months. The Equality in Marriage Institute helps couples use communication and planning to maintain strong relationships and prepare them for tough times.
Here are some tips for couples facing deployment:
- Intensify Communication: When the “unknown” becomes a factor in the future of a relationship, it is important that partners don’t just internalize their fears and hope for the best. Both individuals have many thoughts, concerns and opinions about the situation and these need to be discussed. Set aside one night each week or a few minutes each day that you can spend together discussing how you feel about the situation and enjoying each other’s company.
- Don’t Fear Preparation: Wishing and pretending that deployment won’t happen is not going to change the odds at all. Even while you are hoping for the best outcome, you need to be proactive and plan for different possibilities. It is important to talk about changes in lifestyle if one partner is away for an extended period of time. Talk about the tasks that person handles and make sure everything will be taken care of in their absence. Make sure both partners know where important financial and legal documents are located. Planning ahead will not predict the outcome, but simply makes both parties feel more secure and prepared for any situation.
Here are some tips for maintaining relationships during deployment:
- Create a Virtual Home: With modern technology, many soldiers have access to the Internet. There are numerous sites (like myfamily.com) where you can create your own homepage and post important information, events and photos. This can allow the deployed partner to catch a glimpse into their family from thousands of miles away.
- Prepare to Share: Many couples fear that, after a long period of absence, the relationship or connection will have changed. Just because you are apart doesn’t mean you stop sharing in each other’s lives. The partner at home can take extra steps to record events and activities, capture achievements by children or a favorite pet on film and keep a journal of their thoughts and feelings. Make a “scrapbook” of the time apart so that, when reunited, you can set aside a special weekend to relive those memories together and catch each other up.
- Ask for Help: It is our nature to want to appear strong when faced with obstacles, but don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Whether it be handling the emotional aspects of separation or assistance in maintaining a household alone, use your support network of friends, family and, if necessary, professional service providers, to create a valuable “team” that will make the process easier.