They also serve who only stand and wait. ~John Milton
Sometimes I'm not sure just how much to share about our life while my husband is deployed. Honestly, I don't like coming across like I'm whining. But the waiting for a deployed loved one, and struggles that go along with waiting, are a very big part of our lives and I can't pretend they're not.
At this point, we've been through several deployments, but this one has been the longest for us (a year). I've noticed that some people seem to not know what to do/what is appropriate but truly do want to help in whatever way they can, so I thought I'd list out a few thoughts if you have a friend or family member whose spouse is deployed.
Please just take it as my personal thoughts as a military spouse of a couple of decades.
Don't forget about us.
Deployments don't get easier, no matter how many times we've been through it or how capable we may seem.
Send a note...or just call to say you're thinking about us.
Leave a message if we don't answer. Send a text. Just let us know we haven't been forgotten. It doesn't have to be anything big.
But if you want to do something bigger, drop off a casserole or cookies, something low pressure.
Offer to take small children out for a fun afternoon. We're not only solo parents, but we may be living somewhere unfamiliar, far from family help. Add to that the constant worry that goes along with having a spouse deployed in a dangerous location, and the stress level can be nearly unbearable at times.
It's exhausting, and sometimes we just need a break. It may seem like a small thing to you, but trust me, we will never forget your kindness.
And if you say, "Let me know if you need anything," you probably won't hear from us except for a true emergency.
We don't want to impose. So...be specific and direct and ask what day would be a good one to pick up kids/bring a meal/whatever else you're thinking of doing.
Please don't compare your spouse's business trips to our spouse being off to war.
We know you mean well, and you're trying to relate, but the only similar thing is the separation.
You can only imagine the undercurrent of fear we live with until our loved one is back home safe and sound, how much we try to ignore the news because we're afraid to see our spouses' location suddenly mentioned, the terrible thoughts that haunt us at 2 a.m., or the tears our kids (and we) cry because they're terrified Daddy's not coming home this time.
Try to understand if we withdraw a bit during this time.
It's a season of waiting for us, and normal things can seem trivial in comparison. We just simply may not be up for that 'ladies' night out.' It's hard to go kick up your heels when you can't forget that your spouse is sleeping in a tent or worse.
We may feel guilty having fun sometimes. We hope you understand that.
And lastly...be open to letting us talk. But don't be offended if we don't.
Sometimes it's scary to put into words what we're feeling, and that's the only way we can cope with this. It's not personal. Keeping up a tough front may be all that prevents us from collapsing into a million pieces when someone simply asks kindly, "How are you doing?"
We are doing what we have to do to get through this and not go insane in the process. (and sometimes that does involve collapsing in a million pieces!!)
Take the above for what it's worth, and please don't be offended by my candor. Everyone handles deployment differently--these are simply my thoughts from my own personal experience, and observations after talking with other deployed spouses.
My heart is with all you other Waiting Warriors out there....God bless you all.
Originally published 2014. Get devotionals for deployments and more in my book You Are Not Alone: Encouragement for the Heart of a Military Spouse.