Staying Connected Through a Deployment

>> Thursday, May 21, 2015

When My Marine and I were first married, he was active duty and was often gone for months at a time.  Being newly married, I was desperate to try to stay connected to my husband in some way.  So one day, I spent an afternoon in a book store browsing the “Marriage and Relationship” section.  I found two books that sounded promising and was looking forward to spending an evening searching the pages for the keys to keeping the fires of this crazy military marriage alive.

My high hopes soon dissolved into hilarity.

“Have a candlelight dinner,” the list began. Yep—that candlelight dinner alone will really help me a lot. 

“Give each other fifteen-minute back rubs,”   Kind of hard when you’re alone.  I have trouble scratching my own back, let alone give myself a back rub! 

And the list went on and on…...“Go for a scenic drive together. Plan a romantic picnic. Have a pillow fight. Spend an evening in front of the fireplace.” 

I quickly realized that the miles and the months that routinely separated us make most marriage books and seminars pointless, even painful.

But over the years, I’ve had to get creative…..getting ideas from other spouses, articles, and websites.  So here are a few ideas that you can try as well!

· Set a clock ahead in your home to reflect your spouse's deployment time zone.

· Create a play list/CD to send.  Use songs that mean something to you or songs that your Soldier know that you miss him/her.  I made one for My Marine during our first big deployment and timed it so that it arrived close to our wedding anniversary.  (He was gone during our 10th anniversary).  The first two songs were our wedding songs followed by a list of “I miss you” songs.  I made a second copy for me to have so that I could know that we were both listening to the same songs.  He loved it and we still listen to it from time to time.

· Keep your Soldier close.   By a couple of plain pillowcases and using an iron-on transfer, put a picture of your Soldier (and you/your family) on it and send in a care package.  (You keep one for yourself and spritz with cologne).  Or use fabric paint and write each other a little note on the pillowcase.

· Keep a box where you can put in fun items to send to your Soldier.  (My "box" was a giant, oversized laundry basket!)  Decks of card, footballs, Frisbees, etc.  When you are out doing errands and see something that your Soldier would enjoy, buy it and toss it in the box when you get home. Send your care packages every 2-3 weeks during the deployment.  (More on mailing care packages to come!)

· If your Soldier is a reader, pick a book to read together while he’s gone.  Start your own little personal book club and talk about the books.  You can do the same thing with movies too.  Send him a DVD of a movie that you want to see and pick a time to talk about it.

· Keep a phone journal. Jot down things that you want to tell your spouse when he/she calls. Rule of thumb: always say “I love you” FIRST and before anything else, just in case you lose connection.

· Choose something that happens occasionally in nature, i.e., a full moon, a brilliant rainbow, or a shooting star, and agree together that while you are apart, when one of you sees this, it will serve as quiet reminder of your committed love for one another.

· Celebrate missed birthdays and anniversaries anyway! Take photos of the cake you made for him/her, blow out the candles, videotape you and your family singing Happy Birthday and send them in your next care package. Your Soldier will never forget your thoughtfulness.

· While technology is an amazing thing, don’t rely on it 100%.  Email is handy and speedy, as is Skype, but nothing replaces a letter written by your own hand.  Spritz your letters with your perfume/cologne and seal it with a kiss.

· Set a goal together!  Plan a trip for after your soldier returns.  Plan a home project to work on together.  Having a goal that is decided on together will make your soldier feel like he/she is still a part of the planning process. 

Just remember — Communicate often through whatever means you have available to you whether it’s the mail, email, internet chat or packages. Let each other know you’re thinking of each other.

Something simple can mean a lot!


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