I vividly remember the day Zach told me he was deploying. We were sitting in a neighborhood park just finishing our picnic lunch and playing with the baby. I could tell it was coming. For a few days, Zach had that quiet energy he gets when he’s excited and nervous at the same time. It can be hard to know what to say when the person you love most tells you he’s leaving to go into combat. It’s even harder when you can see their excitement and all you feel is overwhelming dread. If you’ve ever wondered what to do when your spouse is looking forward to deployment, this post is for you.
What to Remember When Your Spouse Wants to Deploy
Remember that it’s normal for your service member to look forward to deployment
Let’s say you are a criminal defense attorney. You’ve graduated law school, worked your way up as an associate and participated in more mock trials than you can count. But you’ve never been in a real courtroom. Would that job be fulfilling to you? Probably not.
The same concept works for military members. I can only speak to my husband’s experience as an infantryman, but combat jobs tend to continuously train for, well, combat. Training hard for something without being able to test your abilities on the battlefield is like only participating in one long mock trial. Not very rewarding.
Know that wanting to deploy does NOT mean wanting to be away from family.
“Maybe he wants to get away from you” I vividly remember how deeply I felt those words cut into my soul. Zach and I had only been married a few weeks and I had confided in a family member about how much he wanted to deploy. As a newly minted military wife, I just couldn’t understand why my husband wanted to leave me to serve in a combat zone.
Oh, how I wish someone had told me that wanting to deploy and wanting to “get away” from your family are two very different things. If I could go back and tell myself only one thing about military life, it would be that Zach loving his job didn’t mean he loved me less.
Don’t waste time resenting your spouse for something he can’t change.
As military families, we often feel that the military comes first and the hard truth is that it often does. When your spouse misses important events like birthdays, anniversaries, birth, everyday life, It feels unfair most of the time. Who am I kidding—it feels unfair all of the time. It’s very easy to start resenting your spouse for missing out on things or not being there when we need them. Don’t fall into that trap.
Allow yourself time to process.
News like an upcoming deployment can quite literally take your breath away. It’s ok if you don’t know what to say or spontaneously burst into tears when your service member breaks the news. And it’s totally ok to skip the panic all together and launch into planning mode. Each of us processes things like this in different ways. Allow yourself time to process and vent to someone if you need to.
BONUS: Pick the right person to vent to.
Preferably someone who won’t tell you to divorce your spouse for abandoning you or inform you that your spouse wants to deploy to get away from you. You laugh but I was told both those things when my husband was slated for a deployment. At this moment, you just need someone to be there for you and listen.
Remember that you are stronger than you give yourself credit.
Sounds cliche, right? It’s not.
I’m not saying it will be easy but one day you’ll wake up and realize deployment is almost over and you’ve survived. Yes, it can feel neverending. Yes, sometimes you’ll feel like you’re drowning in a sea of neverending work shifts or a million diapers. But, in the end, deployment is only a season. A season for growth and goals and getting to know yourself better.
You’ve got this, girlfriend.
Dealing with deployment is never fun but hopefully, these five tips will help you through the tough conversations in store for you. Pre-Deployment is one of the toughest parts of military life (I’d argue that it can be worse than the actual deployment) so don’t forget to give yourself and your spouse plenty of grace!
Have you ever felt resentful that your service member wanted to deploy? What are some things you remind yourself of when you get news of an upcoming separation?