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Survival Guide for Spouses of Deployed Service Members - Geek Turned Athlete

Survival Guide for Spouses of Deployed Service Members

My husband came home today after being deployed for only 4 months. To say the least, I was VERY, VERY excited!! I was on my way to the airport this morning when I got a call letting me know that it would be another 6 hours until I saw my husband.  The news didn’t make me very happy, and I wanted to cry, but he was still coming home.  I’m not a very patient person, but I found things to do during the day to keep me busy until I had to drive to the airport again. I stood behind a glass partition along with about 30 other people waiting for their loved ones.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.

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After 20 minutes of standing around talking to some of Steve’s coworkers and running into a fellow blogger (who would have thought?), he finally came out.

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I wanted to jump through the glass and hug and kiss him so badly, but at the risk of getting shot at or tackled by other military members, I changed my mind. I waved frantically as we both mouthed, “I love you” to each other.  After a very long 5-7 minutes of him getting his luggage and going through customs, we finally met outside.

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I helped him get his luggage out of the way. I needed him to hold me immediately!!!
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And the tears started!

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This week had been the hardest by far out of the entire 4 months that he was gone. I missed him so much, but I couldn’t believe our four months apart were up already! It seems like it was just a little while ago that he left! You want to know how I got through the deployment without developing depression and feeling sorry for myself? I lived by these tips:

Survival Guide For Spouses of Deployed Service Members

1. Set Goals! Honestly, it was majorly convenient for my husband to be deployed for most of the spring semester. I was able to focus on school and marathon training. I ended up getting all A’s and exceeding my expectations with my marathon! Work out more. Hey, you’ve got more time now! Focus on being “hot” for your honey when he/she gets back.

2. Use this time for yourself! Ever watch Sex in the City when they talked about secret single behavior? Well, in case you haven’t, it is just the things you do when nobody is around like eating saltine crackers with jelly while reading a magazine (Carrie’s SSB).  I got to go to bed when I wanted, paint (or not paint) my nails when I wanted, and hang out with my friends when I wanted. Now, I can do all of those things when he is around, but it was nice to not have to consult someone else to see if we want to hang out with friends or stay in.

3. Volunteer. Sometimes, when you are feeling empty, volunteering is the best thing to do.  Now, you have the time. Look into volunteering doing something that you love. I taught spin class through the Red Cross at my gym.  Every time a person got done with my class, they would thank me for my time and effort, and it really helped me feel like I was (and still) doing something worthwhile.

4. Get into a routine. Schedule your day around your goals, time for yourself, and volunteering. If you have a block of time that is 5 hours long, and you are coming home to an empty house after work with nothing in mind of what you are going to do, you are more likely to focus on the fact that you are ALONE.  I’m a loaner by nature, but I still love hanging out with friends.  I did have some lonely nights, but I just started studying, working out, taking a nice, long quiet bubble bath, calling a friend or family member, or watching a movie that I know he would be complaining all the way through.  It helped, I swear!

5. Get repairs done before your spouse leaves! If you don’t know how to fix certain things (like me), this is a huge burden if you don’t!  I came home to Germany without any heat after being in the states for 3 1/2 weeks.  I was bundled up for 2 days sans a shower (our heating runs on only hot water) until I was able to get ahold of the hubby, and he could tell me how to fix it.  It would have been a lot easier if I had just paid attention the first two times he tried to show me before he left!

6. Surround yourself with support! If you have the tendency to get depressed when your other half is gone (or even if you don’t), surround yourself with family and friends who love you and are fun to hang out with. I went to go visit my family and they came to visit me during Steve’s deployment. I also had a great support system here in Germany with friends who cared about me, shared my same interests, and most of all, had a sense of humor.

7. It’s okay to cry. Sometimes. I cried a handful of times while Steve was gone, but most of the time, I chose NOT to feel sorry for myself!  Yes, that is a choice! I basically cried, then got over it. Finding the humor in the fact that it took me 30 minutes to get a bottle of balsamic vinegar open when the hubs could have gotten it open in 2 seconds definitely helped.  And yes, I still have a bottle of POM in my fridge that I bought a month ago that I couldn’t get open.

8. Keep it positive. Please don’t cry when you talk to your spouse when they are deployed. I tried not to cry during our phone calls, and I also tried to not complain about my horrible day to him. Your deployed spouse does not need more stress added onto the probability of being shot, blown up, or kidnapped in addition to being away from his/her family. Trust me, he/she doesn’t need to hear you crying about that parking ticket you got, and how it “ruined” your entire day.

9. Take responsibility and don’t “blame” his/her job. I knew Steve was in the military when I met him. I knew what I was getting into when I married him. I will NEVER get angry with him over his job. I have seen countless spouses do this, and it drives me crazy!  Our last year in Tucson, he was gone 280 days that year.  I chose to be busy at work and hang out with friends and family.  He actually got a call to rescue some hikers on Mt. Lemon on my birthday when we were on our way to the restaurant, and we turned the car right back around to drop me off at home.  Did I complain?  NO!  This is his job, and things like that can always be rescheduled.

10. Remember that you were single once. You are a beautiful, strong, capable woman (or man 🙂 ). You can handle anything that is thrown your way! You were perfectly self-sufficient before you met your spouse, and you are now!

Now, I have some cuddling to catch up on…
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(My hair was very angry today and attacking everyone as you can see in the pics! haha)

Around the Blogosphere:

  • Tea talks about how all of her training and eating right actually keeps her from aging before her years.
  • Caitlin has a great first half marathon race recap that involved stormy weather and a bomb scare.

Thanks for all of your support while he was gone!! Ever faced a deployment or your boyfriend/spouse being gone for a long time for work? How do YOU deal?

{ 34 comments… add one }
  • Lisa May 5, 2010, 8:26 pm

    Great pictures!!! They put a smile on my face. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be away from our loved ones for a long time. 🙁

    Reply
  • Kim May 5, 2010, 8:34 pm

    Aww, hooray! I’m glad he’s home safe and sound 🙂

    Reply
  • adrienmelaine May 5, 2010, 8:39 pm

    You must feel so relieved having him back! I can only imagine how excited to you must have been- especially after the emotional roller coaster of the last 4months!

    Reply
  • Estela @ Weekly Bite May 5, 2010, 8:52 pm

    What a wonderful post! I’m so happy he’s back!

    Reply
  • Erica May 5, 2010, 8:54 pm

    ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! So happy for you (and you look freaking gorgeous today whoop whoop!). Enjoy your time with the man

    Reply
  • Jessica @ How Sweet May 5, 2010, 9:10 pm

    I got chills AND tears reading this. So happy for you. <3

    Reply
    • Heather May 5, 2010, 10:02 pm

      SO DID I!

      so happy you are reunited – this is full of great advice and suggestions that we ALL can use, even if we aren’t in your particular situation! thank you.

      Reply
  • Ali May 5, 2010, 9:29 pm

    YES! I am so happy for you I am crying at my desk like a little baby= co-workers think I am crazier than they originally thought! Enjoy time with your hubby!!!! 🙂

    Reply
  • Lyndsay May 5, 2010, 9:30 pm

    Nicole,

    looks like you’ve got the military spouse thing nailed! I am so happy for you guys to be reunited again. Please tell Steve I’m a little disappointed he didn’t tell me he put Major, when did that happen? Congrats!!! When he gets a chance, tell him to email me on SIPR at lyndsay.westbygibson@navy.smil.mil to let me know how his deployment went.

    Enjoy your reunion!
    Lyndsay

    Reply
  • Julie @savvyeats May 5, 2010, 9:37 pm

    I am so happy for you two… I cried reading the recap/looking at the pics!

    Reply
  • Heather (Where's the Beach) May 5, 2010, 9:47 pm

    I am soooo happy he’s home safe and sound. Enjoy enjoy enjoy!

    Reply
  • Dawn (HealthySDLiving) May 5, 2010, 9:57 pm

    I am SOSOSOSO happy for you guys and the fact that you’re together again! I have had to go through a deployment in a previous relationship and I know that feeling of seeing the person you love again is SO incredible!
    I’m glad he’s home safe!

    Reply
  • Jason May 5, 2010, 10:00 pm

    Married to a Major, not too bad! 🙂 Congrats on his safe return.

    Reply
  • tasha - the clean eating mama May 5, 2010, 10:19 pm

    I am so glad he is home safe and sound! You both are so strong to live a military life – I’m not nearly that strong. Have a wonderful day! 😉

    Reply
  • Alanna @ Blood, Sweat & Cupcakes. May 5, 2010, 11:50 pm

    wow, I cannot tell you how much that survival guide put me at ease. My boyfriend of 4 years will be leaving in a year to complete his Phd while I am here completing my masters program. The thought of it can make me so blue sometimes ( also, don’t get me wrong, I am in NO way comparing my partner being gone away to school to having a partner deployed, I can’t imagine the emotions that go along with that and it takes a strong person to stay mentally healthy throughout that time) and I get a little angry that he is leaving me here. However, I realize that it is short term and he isn’t doing it to get away from me, he is doing it so we will have a better life together in the future. It’s so important to remember that being alone is okay, and I can survive without him while I need to.

    Oh geeze, I sound like I can’t get by without him but really that’s not the case, I just know that I will miss him a lot. Your survival guide will come in handy 🙂

    So happy your hubby is back safe and sound, enjoy your time with him!

    Reply
  • Julie @ Pickley Pear May 6, 2010, 2:07 am

    Awww so glad you have your hubby back! I can’t imagine being apart for so long. Great tips for people!

    Reply
  • marit c-l May 6, 2010, 2:49 am

    I am SO SO SO happy for you guys – and totally teared up when I saw the first picture of him…and then again when the two of you guys were hugging. I think you hit the nail on the head with deployments and how to survive them. Way to go Nicole – you are an inspiration! I hope that you guys have a great time reconnecting!!!!!

    Reply
  • Danielle May 6, 2010, 4:26 am

    So happy for you guys! Totally agree with the tips you gave as well – volunteering and picking up extra shifts at my part time job has really helped the time go by fast! And now I have some extra $$ to spend on our R&R trip. 🙂

    Reply
  • 'Drea May 6, 2010, 4:47 am

    Great advice that can be applied in all kinds of situations. Glad you got what you were waiting for…;)

    Reply
  • Pure2raw twins May 6, 2010, 5:41 am

    Ah this post made me cry…glad to hear you man made it back safely! xoxo

    Reply
  • Leana May 6, 2010, 6:24 am

    So glad that your husband is back safe and sound! You gave some amazing advice too…now enjoy spending time with him! 🙂

    Reply
  • Leah @ Simply Fabulous May 6, 2010, 8:01 am

    I got so teary reading this post! Enjoy catching up with your husband! You can see in the pics how much you two love each other!

    Reply
  • Marisa May 6, 2010, 2:02 pm

    Glad he made it home safe and sound!

    Reply
  • Megan May 6, 2010, 4:42 pm

    Yay!!!! So glad he’s back 🙂 Y’all look so happy and cute together. I’m actually jealous of your pretty curls, by the way. I’d love it if mine looked like that “angry” (I know, grass is greener…).

    Reply
  • Claire May 6, 2010, 9:14 pm

    I am so happy to read he is home with you! I also started to tear up when reading this post and had to show it to my bf…

    I am sure you two are having so much fun right now!

    Reply
  • Vanessa May 6, 2010, 9:18 pm

    So sweet, I got teary eyed… You have such strength and give your hubby a thank you from for doing what he does!

    Reply
  • Lynne May 6, 2010, 10:33 pm

    Aw, what a lovely post! I’m glad your man is back with you. 🙂

    Reply
  • Laura Georgina May 8, 2010, 4:51 pm

    Those pictures made me so teary and so happy for you! Enjoy your beautiful cruise and your time with your sweetie.

    Reply
  • adrienne May 8, 2010, 10:53 pm

    I’m glad he made it home. My husband’s deployments don’t bother me. What I mean is I don’t like where he is but his not being here doesn’t bother me. I love my space. The first few days are hard because I’m not used to the silence. I actually miss all the noise he makes. 🙂 Then a few days later I’m loving having the bed to myself, watching what I want, etc.

    I’m fine until the day after the R&R. Then I have problems sleeping for a few days and the cycle continues.

    I have met several wives who are lost when their husbands leave. It’s like they can’t function. They have no identity of their own. It’s sad. I think some women are not meant to be military wives.

    Yes make sure you get everything done before he leaves. I gave him a list months before he left.

    Reply
  • Anne P May 13, 2010, 1:11 am

    Oh my gosh… these pictures of your reunion made me tear up! So happy for you that he’s home safe 🙂 xoxo

    Reply
  • Katie H. May 21, 2010, 7:25 pm

    Thanks so much for this post. I’m new to the blog (my mom directed me to it! 🙂 ) and this post really struck a chord with me. My husband will be deploying for his/our first time next month and will be gone for a year. He’s already at training so we had to say goodbye a few weeks ago and it was ROUGH. You’ve compiled some great strategies and tips; I really appreciate it! Thank you 🙂

    Reply
  • Sandy April 5, 2011, 2:57 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    Reply

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