I'm sure all military significant others can attest to the first month of deployment being the hardest. It takes about 25 days to develop or change your habits, and that first month is full of transitioning to your life without your loved one.
It is so difficult to adjust to waking up alone, handling all of the once shared responsibilities, and just not talking to them everyday. As a military family, it is a reality we face and are expected to deal with.
Sometimes outsiders may say "well you signed up for this, you knew what you were getting into"! To a point yes, we all understand what is expected of military members, but nothing can compare us for how deployments will make us feel until we go through it.
While you can never fully prepare for a deployment, I did want to share some tips on how to get through that first month.
First, allow yourself some "grieving, not-so-good" days. It's normal to feel sad, and there's no shame in letting it out. If that means you lay in bed cuddled up in his shirts, looking through photos, or just crying it out- by all means do it. Not bottling it up will give you that "closure" and it is okay to feel sad!
But notice I said allow yourself some days, staying positive and focusing your energy on other things will help you through this first month and entire deployment. Start by setting a bucket list for yourself. If you moved home to family, make a list of people and favorite spots you want to see before the end of this time. If you are staying at your duty station, plan to get together with friends or attend events, and be a tourist in your temporary home.
Setting expectations and goals for this time will not only make it seem like time is going by faster, but it gives you things to look forward to.
Also, during this first month set up a routine for yourself. Start and end your days with the intentions of living every day to the fullest. Whether that's working out, going to your job, watching your favorite Netflix show, or doing schoolwork; try and have as many plans as possible.
Last but not least, remember this is an adjustment period for them too. They are adjusting to being overseas, most often in an unsecure FOB or area and trying to assimilate to that atmosphere. It's tough on them, no matter how many times they deploy, to go through that adjustment time. Be understanding and supportive, and keep this in mind while they are getting situated there.
Be as available as possible to enjoy those sweet, precious phone calls, but also understand it's not always an option with connection.
Go into the deployment knowing it won't always be easy, but changing your mindset and having these things in mind can make it a little easier. From one military spouse to another, the greatest thing you can hold on to during this time is loving and supporting them, and to be fearless.
Are you currently going through a deployment, or have previously?
I’ll admit my guilty pleasure Facebook group is Dear Dependa II. It’s so crude, but yet so funny. But let’s face it. In all technicality, I am a dependa too! I depend on my husband to be the main bread winner and of our household. I depend on him for strength and confidence. And, I depend on him for his love and sacrifice. So yeah, I guess I’m just the biggest dependa of them all!
Okay, I’m totally joking. I know the term “dependa” means a wife who depends on their husband for everything and has no life goals other than bank on military benefits and sling their husband’s rank around like a proud boy scout and his new badge. I personally don't mind the 'milso' title because that is what I am. We often joke about me being a dependa and I think making light of a bad name is the kind of attitude + outlook you need in this life anyways!
I know it may come off as harsh, but I’m not quite sure where the expectation that military life is easy comes from. And I really don’t know who told them that you will be making bank and living this luxurious life of new cars every promotion, more money per kid you have, and Coach purses galore! The real military life is a bit of a rude awakening if you have that expectation.
I have picked up and left my family and friends, moving to places we would plant our roots, even if temporarily. I’ve learned to pack my life away in boxes, and be okay with leaving it in a storage container. Life as a ‘dependa’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and I think no amount of mental preparation will prepare you for this life. This isn't a woe is me, it's just how life is.
I don’t think any amount of advice, tips, and personal experiences can prepare you for that first night alone when he leaves for deployment. No amount of creativity or money you put in a care package, will make sending things overseas feel absolutely normal. You may have a little one and realize that time that is being missed, your spouse will never get back.
It is hard and remains difficult for a long time. Some wives can transition easier than others and that’s okay. This life can make you feel so lonely, and other times you will feel completely surrounded by an amazing community of others going through the same experiences.
Here is the thing about life as a dependa: we chose our life partners on factors completely separate from what they do as a career (most of us). We would love our husbands and wives and support them in whatever job they were in. But, let’s not forget being in the military isn’t really your typical job.
I have no shame in showing pride in my husband, because what he in particular does for our country and other people, is something to truly thank him for. Their jobs are dangerous, they go to the other side of the earth to defend our Homefront, and they do it all without the expectation of being thanked: it’s just their job. I don't mind putting my experiences and stories out there, because I know how many other spouses relate to them. It doesn't bother me one bit to be labeled dependa, as I know what I am truly and feel only pride and love for my husband; not his rank.
Living the military life has taught me valuable life lessons and personal growth. Being married to someone in the military takes a lot of patience, courage, and strength and while it is definitely not the "toughest job in the military to be a ___ wife", it isn't for the weak.
It is like any relationship, but you have added strains that most normal relationships hopefully don't endure. Extended separation, having to be responsible for your spouse when they have little connection/communication, and learning how to be alone while you are technically not alone are all hardships faced. But, you can do it. Don't let negativity trouble you and focus on what is most important in your life, and you'll survive and thrive in this military life just fine.
What is the most distinctive "life as a dependa" moment for you?
My honey is home and I never got around to sharing our homecoming photos! During J's deployment homecoming, it was literally just us and I drove to go see him. I wore a tank top and shorts and it was extremely casual and intimate.
This time around, I wanted to make it more special! I found an adorable outfit and my mom made me a super cute sign to welcome him with. He deserves so much and I am glad we finally got a bigger homecoming for him! I am so blessed to have him back, I know military spouses understand this heartbreak like no other when our men are away. To see him again, just felt like a breath of relief and my everything was finally standing in front of me again- and that feeling is indescribable.
Going through any length of separation can be hard on any couple. Whether you are going through separation because of Basic training, AIT, TDY, or deployment, I understand what you are going through! It is so hard being apart, but know it isn't impossible. Try and make time fly the best you can (I'll link helpful posts down below!) and remember why you are doing this.
You are going through this distance because your other half is creating your future together and establishing his career. You are spending nights alone so he can defend our country and learn how to protect and grow in his designated career path. You are experiencing those dropped skype calls and weeks without hearing from them, which makes you appreciate the sweet sound of their voice so much more. If you are younger and still living at home, of course miss him, but use this time to love and appreciate time with your family, as you will most likely be moving away from them shortly and starting your own life. Trust me, there are many obstacles when distance comes into play, but stay strong and be supportive during the duration. Best of luck to you and your military significant other. The longer the wait, the sweeter the kiss.
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If you read my post from a little bit ago, you would know I sometimes don't take care of myself. I'll want to stay in bed all day, be lazy, and slack on responsibilities. This post is not only for you who may be feeling a similar mindset, but for me as well.
Taking care of yourself is so important, and yes even if you don't have someone to look good for, it's a great feeling to do it for you. While self care can often times be seen as taking care of yourself physically, you also need to take care of your physical and spiritual well being. Often times doing things for or with others can make you feel better and less alone.
1. Paint your nails & toes (at home or get them done)
2. Tour your town
3. Read the Bible (or pick up Bible journaling)
4. Try a new hairstyle
5. Buy a new outfit
6. Find new outfits through your closet (this saves money & allows you to get creative)
7. Watch your favorite movie
8. Work out
9. Try new meals
10. Do a photoshoot (great gift for you and for your hubby!)
11. Go on a walk
12. See a movie with friends (or go alone, more popcorn for you!)
13. Try a DIY project
14. Visit family
15. Write in a journal
16. Plan out your next week or month (this & this planner look very nice!)
17. Do yoga
18. Read a new book
19. Buy a new plant or tend your garden
20. Volunteer (animal shelter, FRG group events, church nursery, making food for missionaries)
21. Take a long bubble bath (I suggest this bubble bath, it is the best!)
23.Write a letter to someone (I'm sure your spouse would love a letter!)
24. Clean your house (it is never too late to spring clean)
25. Listen to music & create a playlist
26. Learn a new skill or talent (I have yet to learn how to ride a bike & want to!)
27. Play a word game or puzzle
28. Watch the sunset
29. Watch a talk or worship service online
30. Get up early and make breakfast for yourself (challenge: without looking at your phone first!)
What is something that you do to take care of yourself? I'd love to know down below. Taking care of yourself is so important and I've found myself feeling so much happier and productive after doing some of these things. I'm not the best at it by any means, but I encourage you to practice self care, especially when your husband is gone. Stay strong & God bless!
I got married at 18 years old.
Being married so young in the military, meant that we had double the statistics of the divorce rates thrown at us. 60% of marriages from 20-25 end in divorce. Army divorce rate is at 3.9%, but keep in mind the military only makes up 4% of the population.
I have been told about all sorts of disadvantages to marrying young in the military, but why is it so hard to believe there are so many perks? There is a bright side to this whole younger generation living the military life.
I knew that getting married at 18 would mean a lot of hardships and obstacles we would have to overcome. Moving out of my family home and moving to a completely new state had me thinking, 'what the heck did I get myself into?'
But the thing is, I knew that I wanted to get married to J. I knew things would be hard and I knew that above anything this would be one heck of a rollercoaster! Any marriage can have issues, but the plus about being young is you usually have less baggage. You are both just starting out in life and get to grow up together in a sense.
J was already well established in his military career, so I felt like I had a ton of learning to do on my own. It was an advantage though, because he already built his career and knew the Army life pretty well, that I could learn from him and any questions I had, he could answer!
So, here are a few things that young military couples get to experience and the perks that come.
Becoming an Adult.
I know it is common to think that when someone turns 18, they are an adult. Wrong! I have heard, and met, so many people 18 and older that still do not show they are adults. There are kids doing awful things, living off their parents, having zero responsibilities… Then, you take a young military couple. Some girls are just fresh out of high school and are waiting for their man to finish basic, or are even planning a huge move across the country with their husband. It is so not a normal thing to do in your early adult years, but with this lifestyle, you learn to be an adult so much sooner. You become more responsible for yourself, both financially and physically. There is nothing wrong with either scenario, but as a young military wife I have found myself becoming more and more of an adult, the more and more I receive responsibilities.
Because most girls marry their significant other when they are just starting their military career, you get to be there for progressions and promotions. You get to be there for their basic & AIT graduations, when they have any promotions, you get to watch your man grow in his military career. Being there from the beginning allows the two of you to celebrate together! You have the sense of pride for your significant other, and he gets to have you there by his side through it all.
"I get to adjust to the life as he progresses in the military. Like when we started dating he was a PFC. Now we've been married for little over a year he's a SPC about to be a SGT." - Samantha Bills
Flexible & Adjustable
Because I was just out of high school, I didn't already have any prior commitments. I didn't have a full time job or school I had commitments to, so I was flexible to move whenever and wherever. Us young military wives are a certain breed of easy going, because we can just pick up and move with ease. I'm not saying being an older wife is impossible, it is just easier because we are just now building our lives. We can adjust to changes a lot easier, like adjusting to a new area and building our lives from there. Having fewer life commitments allows us to be more flexible with schedules and whatever the military throws at us.
We make do.
Because we are young, we don't really care, and sometimes can't afford, to have a huge extravagant wedding. Most of the time, we have a year or less to plan a wedding, which can be a good or bad thing haha. We got married by a Justice of the Peace and that was that. So many young military couples get married in courthouses and just can make do, because that is the least of priorities.
We also make do with living in new states, finding new jobs, and doing our best to get through school. With young military wives, we have low expectations when getting into this, so we are more room and optimism in making do with our situations. This allows us to always look on the bright side of things, because with lower expectations, we can find the good and happy side to all of this.
Building Marriage & Trust
An additional perk to this, is you are their for your soldier. Because they are younger as well, don't think they never feel afraid when going into basic or a deployment. You are there for them every step of the way, and serve as their best friend. You, in a sense, are the only stable thing in their life and they will have a mountain of fears, but with you by their side; anything is possible. You weren't the only one who left your family home and moved to a new state. Your soldier is facing fear head on, but because you are both young and are going through similar emotions, you can conquer fears together. This military lifestyle will be new to the both of you, so relying on each other to get through it is a huge marriage and relationship builder.
What is something you have realized or found out about being married young in the military?
Things will be crazy for the two of you. You won't have everything together, things don't go as planned, and this is a huge learning process. But, you are not alone! Getting married young in the military is a huge blessing. If you really feel you are ready and can take on being married, I say follow your heart and pray. This lifestyle isn't for everyone, but there are so many perks to it! I would love to hear your thoughts & your marriage story down below if you would be open to sharing!
Because we are young, it is nice knowing we aren't alone and have other girls we can befriend and relate to. So, there are my 5 advantages to being married younger in the military.
Thank you for stopping by The Strattons Blog! Here are snippets of my life, motherhood, and the military!