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So you fell in love with a service member, love true love. The falling in love is the easy part.Its the navigating through the lifestyle that gets tricky. With the craziness that comes with it, its hard to find time to be just a married couple. You are either gearing up for a pack out, dealing with a crazy work schedules ( Mid shifts are a killer) or helping your spouse get ready for a deployment. On top of all that, the stress.
Who has time for that love stuff?
Well we do. Ok so I know what you are thinking.. When do I have time through the chaos to keep the spark in my marriage, it’s surprising we have children…
I will be the first one to admit that deployments reak havoc on the love lives of the military. I am not just talking about the sex part, but that is important too. I think like everything deployments go through stages. You have all the pre-deployment, during deployment and post deployment emotions. That being said, lets break it all down and see where we can find the time for sparkage in the marriage.
Pre-Deployment: Ok crazy times I know. The emotions are running high, the packing is getting done and the jitters start happening. But hold on to your heart, there are things you can do that will in every aspect.
Make sure you have Date Nights. Date nights? What are those? This would be an excellent time to make sure you have a reliable babysitter. Its tricky, I know. But with the help of sites like sittercity.com ( which is free for military, btw!), You can find a good, decent person to watch the kids, even ones that specialize in special needs 🙂 Take this time for just you two. Go to your favorite restaurant, catch a movie, heck if you have time and you have family or friends willing to look after the kids for a day, spend a day doing something for both of you.
Don’t forget the little things. Like making a meal they like. Something you know they love and aren’t going to be getting in a while. Maybe adding something in their seabag that has your perfume/cologne on it.
The Power of a nice picture. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or professional. Nowadays you can take a nice picture with your phone. Instagram can make anyone look like a photo genius. Tuck it into a book they are reading, so when they open it up, there is you 🙂
Don’t forget that you are not the only one having an explosion of feelings at this time. Be kind with each other. Things are going to happen whether or not we like them. And the inevitable is going to happen unless by the grace of God or an act of government they decide not to deploy. I will say that this never happens, despite many thoughts, prayers, candles being lit and dancing in the moonlight.. Sorry!
Deployment: This is the tricky stage. Love vs everything that life has to throw at you. I will say this now, Deployments suck. They suck at everything. So how do you go about keeping love alive during the lengthy time period your spouse is gone, through the stress and through those day where you just want to say screw this?
Go Old School. Take a cue from the older generation. Back during WWII they didn’t have all this technology. The art of a good written letter has become almost extinct. Sometimes when you can hold something written by someone it can mean the world to them. It shows that you took the time to sit down and write something. One thing I always do when my spouse deploys, I go out and find some pretty stationery and some of those corny love note cards or I miss you cards. Nothing too big. And occasionally I will pop on in the mail for my spouse.
Daily Affirmations. This is when you can. If your spouse does have access to social media, nothing says that you can’t go tell them you love and miss them while they are away. They might not get to see it the day you post, but the thought that counts. This can also work with emails. Unlike the written letter, emails are quicker.
Make them remember what they are coming back to. This is something my grandmother once told me when my husband deployed for the first time. She got married right after WWII got started. Kissed my Grandfather goodbye and waited. But her words stuck with me. Her way was sending pictures, tell them about the good times and all the wonderful things that are happening. Not to make them depressed, but to let them that you have done great at making sure things are taken care of. Sometimes that piece of mind takes the pressure off of them.
Skype/Google Chat Dates. Again if your spouse has access to the internet. These programs have been a godsend to us military spouses. Gone are the days of patiently waiting for a phone call ( Ok we still do that, but we don’t get as mad at ourselves for having to go buy food or what not). Sometimes you only have 15 minutes and the connection is crappy, but make it work. Have a conversation you would have if you two were at a restaurant. It not as intimate I know, but its something. If you can leave nagging ( yes I said it, because we all do it) to an email or if something is really urgent like the car is smoking in the driveway, you can talk about that.
This is always my favorite.. well because its Homecoming!And who doesn’t love a good homecoming!
Remember to take things slow. You haven’t seen each other in a while. You need to let them adjust. Now if they are coming back from a war zone, they will need to be able to just breathe. And by that, sometimes the service member needs to switch from military brain to relaxing brain. Sometimes that can take awhile. So be forgiving if they are not ready. But let them know that you are supporting, loving and caring towards them adjusting back to life. Now that can be taken both ways. The service member needs to remember that you have been top dog and in control of everything while they have been gone. So its going to take some time for you to adjust having them back home.
The games begin. Once the adjustment period has run its course, then the fun can start. Go back to when you could sit have meaningful conversations, do the things you both love to do as a couple. Get that baby sitter on the phone and get some date nights booked in. Re-kindle that feeling you had that made you fall in love with this person!
Relish in the moment. Whether they are home on R&R or home for good, enjoy it. You can work out the kinks as they come. Its okay to celebrate the fact they are home again.
All of these things are just suggestions. Things that have worked for me.
Remember, if there is anyone that can make a long distance love affair look good, its us military marriages. Deployments may try their best to suck the romance out of a marriage/relationship, but we Spouses are known to keep that fire burning at home.
Andrea Thomason has been living the dream, married for 12 years to her Sailor. She pretty much been all over. The Navy has sent her to some pretty interesting places from England to Hawaii. She is the mother of three very awesome children, two of whom have Autism, and one with ADHD. When she is not hip deep in the momma business you can find her writing her heart out over at http://spousekidsspecialneednotinaseabag.blogspot.com/ and over on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/militaryspousekidsandspecialneeds?ref=hl. You can also follow her on Twitter @ImmaNavyspouse.
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