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Your husband or wife is gone and you feel like you've been left behind. Scratch that attitude! In order to survive deployment, you’re going to need to keep a positive attitude. There will be lots of situations that may appear to be discouraging at first, but if you keep your head on straight and your heart inspired, there’s no reason why this needs to be a gloomy time. We’ve done half the work for you by rounding up these expert-approved tips for military spouses to make the best use of time while your spouse is on active duty.
Don’t go in blind.
Military life is no cake walk. An important tip for military spouses is to have a realistic perspective about what things will be like once your partner leaves. To achieve family readiness, get all your ducks in a row. Register for an ID card—this is your passport to access all the perks available around base. Make sure you know your spouse’s social security number, because you'll likely be the emergency contact for your sweetie. Be aware of any phone numbers you might need to know—your spouse’s mother, brother, or physician. Take a look at some of these memes that perfectly explain being a military spouse. All of these things will help keep the anxiety at bay once you’re left in charge at home base.
Even though your spouse is a big part of your life, they aren’t the center of it. Before you became a military wife or husband, you had your own hopes and dreams, and now is the time to return to these fantasies. The possibilities are endless. What about that book you always wanted to write? Take advantage of the quieter evenings and sit down to write. Ever thought about designing your own clothes? Take a sewing class and see where that leads. Life is nothing without a dash of imagination. Let your mind wander and enjoy the ride.
Set goals for yourself.
Set milestones for what you want to achieve during the deployment period. Having trackable goals will help you focus on something concrete even if the rest of your life seems like it’s out of your control. If you want to learn about the stock market, read two books a month. Or even better, start a book club and take other people along for the ride. Maybe there’s a cookbook you’ve been salivating over. Buy it, and make three new dishes each week. When your spouse returns, they might just be in awe over the ambitious person you’ve become.
Develop a drinking habit. (We’re talking about coffee!)
There’s a reason why coffee shops have spiked in popularity the last fifteen years. They’re social hotspots! Even if your choice of brew is tea, treat yourself to a hot (or cold) beverage once a week just to get out of the house and mingle with the military community. Chances are, you’ll run into people who are dealing with some of the same issues that you are—you may even find a mentor who can offer pieces of advice about your situation. In today’s fast-paced world, face-to-face communication is more important than ever. An important tip for military spouses is to make it a point to intentionally slow down and touch base with a support group.
Don’t fall for the gossip.
Military bases can sometimes feel like high school—a group of people kept in close quarters who are going through some very real emotional experiences. Just like high school, the gossip will only make things worse, and there are just some things you should never say to a military spouse. One of the best tips for military spouses to maintain a clear head is to avoid people who talk within social circles, and be intentional about eliminating negativity from your life. Especially when it comes to the return dates of service members, you might experience more heartbreak than hope if you listen to what the rumor mills is cranking out.
Chase the adventure.
Maybe you didn’t exactly choose to be in this new place. Like any mindset shift, the first step is acceptance. After that though, it’s time to wake up and smell the bacon! Some people live their whole lives wishing they had the courage to pack up and move somewhere new. Well, you’ve done it and now that you’re here, it’s time to explore. Find a trailhead, pack some gorp, and don’t tell anyone what time you’ll be back. Or, use the internet to scout out some cool haunts in your new city. By the time your loved one gets home, you can be their very own tour guide.
Get involved in giving back.
Nothing helps time fly like focusing on something other than your own life for a little while. The benefits of volunteering are obvious—helping people who are less fortunate than you, giving back to the community, and meeting like-minded individuals. You might even meet some people who aren’t involved in military life at all, which can be refreshing. Check out some websites like United Way or Create the Good, which will connect you with local volunteering opportunities.
Indulge in self care.
No one is saying that what you’re doing is easy. Remember to be gentle on yourself and take some time to nurture the earth suit you’ve been given. Supermarkets like Target and Walmart offer a fantastic selection of high quality face masks and bath bombs at an affordable price. You’re worth five dollars of cucumber cream. Put on some oldies (we recommend Frank Sinatra or Billy Holiday!), light a candle, and spend a night feeling all kinds of good. You deserve it.
Even while you’re taking time to yourself, we know your service member will never be far from your mind. With all the uncertainties and potential dangers of deployment, it’s important to stay connected and be the voice of support for them from back home. Think of creative ways that you can show your sweetie you’re thinking of them. Send over an old tape player in a care package, complete with a voice message you’ve recorded. Hit the library and find some poems to copy down and seal with a kiss. Thinking of new ways to send your love is an important way to survive a military relationship, and will help keep things fresh.
The final tip for military spouses to remember while practicing the art of deployment survival is that you can’t control everything. Some things are just pointless to fret over. If you find yourself in a mental cloud of anxiety, take a moment to pause and ask, “Is this a productive thought pattern?” If the answer is no, just try to let go. When you do, your mind will make space for all of the beautiful things that you do have an impact on. That’s a much more productive way for a military spouse and family to spend their time.
While being the partner left behind will never be easy, these tips for military spouses will help you survive the deployment of your loved one.