The Ultimate Guide to Having a Deployed Spouse

February 10, 2019

Pretty spaces, quiet, and tidiness are things I value a lot these days.  I write this post while wearing sparkly slippers adorned with bows, underneath a faux fur blanket in a recently redecorated living room as I reflect on the last 211 days.  It's snowing and super cold outside on this February day in Ohio.

As I fixed my (first cup of) snickerdoodle coffee this morning, I looked out into the back yard and saw a much different scene than I did in June after Herschel first left for deployment.  It was one of those times when you realize how much time has passed in the blink of an eye, but, at the time, the hours and days seemed like an eternity to pass.

Deployment has been one gigantic roller coaster that I never imagined.  And I've been through some stuff.  This was a whole different kind of experience.  But as I look back, I am SOOOOO thankful for the many great things that have come from it and the things I've learned along the way.  (These are in no particular order).
  • Paying off debt.  We've taken full advantage of housing stipend, separation stipend, and combat pay to make a huge dent in our debt and are well on our way to being debt free by the end of 2019.
  • My mom came over to visit a LOT over the months and we got closer than we have ever been in my life.  I will always look back and cherish the time I had with her, our evenings on the porch watching storms, drinking champagne, laughing and crying together.
  • I dove into my interest in writing again and am currently working on a book, which has been a lifelong dream of mine.  
Technology and some wonderfully unique services have helped make this time easier for us.  Here are five hacks I would highly recommend for deployed spouses (or even those of you who are in long-distance relationships:
    1. Zoom Video.  Yes, FaceTime is great but you have to hold your phone up and it has a tiny screen.  I use Zoom all the time for work and the picture quality is AWESOME and it is compatible with all types of laptops and computers if you have access to a webcam.  Bonus: it's FREE if you two are the only ones using it.  Plus you can do other fun things like share your screen (if you want to work on projects, play games or watch movies together) and record the video to a video file to watch again.  
    2. Wanderer bracelets.  These are handmade in Bali, so it ups the cool factor for me anyway, but I got one for Herschel and sent it to him in his first care package.  I had the coordinates of our house made into a custom coordinates bracelet so he always has home close to him.  He's worn it every day underneath his uniform.  
    3. Long distance friendship lamps.  This has been one of the most heartwarming things we got to keep us closer through the deployment.  I have loved seeing my lamp lit up when I rolled over in the middle of the night because I know he was thinking about me.  
    4. The Scheduled app.  The time difference between Afghanistan and Ohio is 9.5 hours, which means one of us is usually asleep.  I like to schedule a few text messages before I go to bed, which will be sent during the day in his timezone.  Before the deployment started, I made a bunch of notes with favorite movie quotes, poems, song lyrics and other meaningful words in the instances where I had a case of writer's block.  Those helped a ton and I know Herschel appreciated hearing from me even when he knew I was asleep.
    5. Touchnote has been an easy way to send each other postcards/love notes during our long time apart.  I purchased a credit plan and it literally takes me two minutes to put together a postcard for Herschel, click his saved APO address and hit send.  Touchnote does the printing and sending from there.  It's been so easy and a great way to send him photos from home and of all the places my work travels take me.
In addition to these hacks, we have also needed some emotional and spiritual help along the way to get us through this long (so far 8 months) apart:
  • Pray together.  Just when things are already bad and you are missing each other like crazy, and the wheels are falling off at home, every insecurity and fear you have will be magnified and it's important now more than ever to come together as a couple and pray.  Pray for protection for your marriage, pray for the safety of your deployed spouse, pray for the power to be taken away from the evil spirits sent against you and/or your spouse.  There is power in prayer.
  • Reminisce about your time together.  The times that I have felt really far away and have been sad and lonely, we've taken time to reminisce about the fun times we've shared together and, by the end of our video chat, we have always felt more connected to one another.
  • Give yourself permission to not have much to say sometimes.  There are times when you have scheduled video chats and you just don't have anything to say even though you really want to be together.  Don't take it as a sign that there's something wrong with your relationship.  If you were together in person, you wouldn't need words to show your love to one another and you could enjoy the silence together.  But video creates a sense of urgency like you have to have something to say and it can be awkward sometimes.  And that's ok.  Embrace the messiness. 
We are currently planning a trip together for when Herschel gets back home and I am counting the minutes until we board a plane and head off to some remote locations together where all we have to do is reconnect and enjoy some fabulous scenery, history and, of course, some fabulous food and wine.

Bon soir for now!  

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  1. I learn a lot from you and don't even know it. Keep it up!

    1. Robin - thanks SO much for your kind words and for reading the blog. I hope all is well with you and you are staying warm up there in Wisconsin.


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