by Angela Caban
Hearing the word “deployment” can send even the most experienced military spouse running in the other direction. Between pretending it doesn’t exist and it isn’t going to happen, to wondering what will they do next, this word can have a crippling effect in so many ways. However, if you stop and think for a moment, there can be a positive side to deployment. There are many ways you can use this time as a learning, and growing experience for yourself.
When my husband left for a 15 month tour to Iraq I thought to myself, “What am I going to do while he’s gone? Should I just work more hours to make the time pass?” I decided to make a list of things I wanted to accomplish within the 15 months while he was away, this way I held myself accountable. I also decided to make a list of the positives that I hoped would come out of the deployment, this list served as a great tool for any separation. I have used it many times after that first deployment.
Here are 4 positives to consider when facing a deployment or any separation:
Paying Down Debt:
When your spouse deploys, they get paid a little more than normal. This is the perfect time to get a savings account started and some money tucked away for a rainy day. It’s also the perfect time to start paying down some old debt. Let’s face it, many military families live paycheck-to-paycheck and may be in debt. This is a great time to think about strengthening your finances.
Any separation will give us time to ourselves, whether we want it or not. It’s easy to stay busy, especially when we have kids, but what are you doing for yourself? When my husband left, I noticed my nights were awfully lonely. Nights normally meant watching movies and spending quality time together, not anymore. I decided to take this free time and do something for myself. Whether you are going back to school, learning how to knit, deciding to get healthy or just taking the evenings to read – working and spending time on yourself is an important part military spouses tend to neglect.
Working on Your Marriage:
The time we spend away from our spouse is a time in which we can work on our relationship. I know this may sound strange and you’re probably thinking, “How can I work on my marriage if my spouse isn’t even home?” Easy, we can take many things for granted and this might include our spouses when they are home. Even if you have a strong marriage, any separation can bring a whole new set of emotions. You have the opportunity to truly value your relationship and miss the little things about your spouse. You also have the time to work on yourself and perhaps plan for the future. When my husband is away, I always make a list of the things I miss most about him. I keep it close until he returns to remind myself that sometimes we need to drop the petty things we fight about. I call this a huge learning experience on how to be a better wife.
I don’t care how many homecomings you’ve had, the last always feels like the first! Whether you’re meeting your spouse at the airport, picking them up from the bus, or waiting for their unit to march onto a field into formation, homecomings are what we wait for and always give us those butterflies that make us feel like we are meeting our spouse for the first time.
What deployment positives have you run into? Share with us in the comment area below!
The Civilian to Military Lifecycle
Angela Caban is a military columnist and published author. Her husband, who was deployed in 2008, was one of the many soldiers impacted by the unprecedented activation of the Army National Guard. In 2010 she founded the Homefront United Network to provide assistance and family support through encouragement, educational articles and resources. She is dedicated to assisting National Guard and Reserve families with resources and ensuring no spouse or family member is left behind.
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