Deployments are rough on a solider. Being in a combat environment with associated dangers, while being away from family and friends can be difficult. It’s also especially hard on the spouse who has no control or knowledge of what is going on while their spouse is overseas. They can be waiting days or weeks to hear from them only to get a short phone call with no details as to what is happening in their soldier’s life. It’s important to know how to support a loved one who is waiting at home as patiently as possible for their spouse to return to them.
As a close family member or friend, it’s most important to help them pass time. Here are a few support ideas:
- A phone call or message is always appreciated – even a simple text saying “I’m thinking of you”
- Making play dates for the kids - playing with friends is a welcome diversion – for kids as well as for the spouse at home!
- Offer to babysit – having time to run errands, or even clean the house without children underfoot can be a gift.
- Making lunch dates for adults – just as kids need time to play, so do adults. Meet, have lunch, share some laughs!
- Movie night – this may be going to the movies with them, providing them with tickets to take their children when it’s convenient, or even sending over a CD and a bag or two of microwave popcorn. It will be much appreciated!
- Weekend trips to places nearby – go exploring together and discover the area around you.
- Paint nights – formal or at home with canvases; painting is a great way to express yourself!
Another good support suggestion is to avoid the “Be Strong Advice”. Countless times I read military spouses or family members telling other military spouses “You know what you got into”, “This is the military, it comes first” or “Be strong”. You know what? Hearing that advice stinks! Spouses know and have heard those phrases a million times. When times are rough, spouses don’t want to hear that. When beginning the military journey, while you may be instructed to put on a brave face; it doesn’t make deployments, moving, long shifts or months apart any easier. In my opinion, the advice a spouse needs is “you are strong”, “we are here for you”, and/or “call me anytime of the day.”
You don’t really know what lonely is until you experience it. Check up on your loved ones. The deployed soldier and the spouse left behind will thank you!