By Michelle Rawlings
So you get the news that your spouse is leaving. Your mind begins to race, the emotions are over whelming, and then the questions pour in drowning you in your thoughts. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first time or another to add to the long list, it affects you, your relationship, and your family. Just when things were calm and becoming a routine, it gets disrupted. Being with someone in the military means that there are bound to be times when you have to be separated, whether it is for a few days, weeks, months, or even a year, it happens. But what can you do to keep your relationship healthy and what should you not do?
First things first. Do not take it out on your spouse. It’s ok to be angry, frustrated, hurt, scared, or worried but it is a part of the motions we must go through as military spouses. Instead, express your feelings in a constructive manner. Tell your spouse how you are feeling, what scares you about the separation, or even what your expectations are while they are away. Talk about your weaknesses and strengths and how you can help each other. Get it all out now, the last thing you want is to be fighting when they leave. No matter what it is, communicate! Chances are your spouse may be feeling some of the same ways you are, so don’t forget to listen too. Besides the sooner you talk about this the sooner you can enjoy the time you have left and the less stress your relationship will feel while they are away.
Work together to get through the time apart. Support one another; be courteous of each other’s feelings. To get started on the right foot, plan to make some memories before the send off and plan for new ones for when you are reunited. Make a “Top 10 Greatest Moments of our life/year” photo album for your spouse to enjoy while they are away and one for yourself to remind you of the happy moments when you need a pick me up.
Find ways to connect over long distance and get creative.
· Hit play on 3! Have a movie night. Rent and watch the same movie or TV. Show while video chatting.
· Say cheese. Take lots of photos and send them to your spouse so you can tell each other about different things you’ve see and done.
· Dinner Date. Try new recipes and cook together over video chat. Not in to cooking… Frozen pizza works too!
· Book club for two. Take turns picking out books to read. Make sure it’s a book you can both somewhat agree on… Romance one time, zombie apocalypse another.
· Not able to communicate regularly. Take it back old school and write love letters. Not your style? Ask 50 questions and take turns asking and responding.
Finally, distance and time apart are not easy but if you communicate, make plans for success, and work as team you have the potential to surpass any amount of distance and you and your spouse will grow from all of your hard work. The ultimate goal after all is for your relationship to remain intact.