When my husband deployed for the first time, I learned a valuable lesson: I should have asked more questions of him, of myself and of others who’d been there. But everything was too scary, too unknown for me to even start wrapping my head around. Growing up in a non-military family, I had no frame of reference for what a deployment would be like and I certainly had not prepared myself as well as I would have liked. Looking back, I know that there were certain deployment questions everyone should ask, but are usually too afraid to.
What if the worst happens?
I know. We’re really starting out with a doozy, but this one is beyond important to ask before your first deployment, and I would argue before each one that follows. You need to update wills, understand final wishes and understand what will happen if the worst comes to your door. Who gets notified? What are your responsibilities? What are your loved one’s wishes? How will you continue to pay the bills?
As some of these things can change throughout a military career, it’s important to have this discussion before each deployment. Have a good honest conversation before your service member leaves so that you feel a bit more in control.
So um, what about the…you know?
We’ve officially gone from one end of the serious spectrum to the other. Or have we? Intimacy during deployment is a legitimate question and one that you should discuss with your loved one. Technology has come a long way in offering you options, but just remember that once something is out on the Internet, it never really goes away. Be careful and make decisions together that you’re both comfortable with.
One of the benefits of deployment (or any long term separation) is that you can actually increase aspects of intimacy through more conversation. You may be surprised to find that you finish a deployment feeling closer to your loved one than when it began.
Should family be invited to homecoming?
There are probably as many different answers to this one as there are different types of families. My personal opinion is this: invite whoever is going to make that moment better for you and your service member. If that’s extended family, friends and their high school biology teacher, go for it. If it’s just you, that’s ok too.
Homecoming and reintegration can be a very emotional time for everyone involved and additional family and friends being in attendance (or even staying with you after) may make things harder. Be honest with yourself, your service member and your family/friends about your preferences. Offering up a good compromise (inviting people out a few weeks later) may help folks accept your decision. Just remember that ultimately, it is your decision and everyone will understand.
How am I going to make it through this?
Oh boy. I ask myself this question every.single.deployment and am not sure I have a perfect answer. Each deployment requires you to adjust to a unique set of circumstances, so one deployment’s answer won’t necessarily hold true for the next. For example, a deployment without children is a very different beast than the next one that features a toddler.
But I have learned one thing: making it through a deployment is largely contingent on me staying busy. No, it does not actually make time go by faster, but it does reduce the amount of time you have to wallow in missing someone. Pick up a new hobby, get back in shape, send outrageous care packages to your service member, throw yourself into your career or start your own business. Find something that excites you and fills your free time with fun.
Deployments are scary; there is no way around that. But if you ask the right questions beforehand, you may feel more in control of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask your service member “what ifs” or reach out to fellow military spouses for advice. You will make it through this deployment!
Rachel is a proud Navy wife, avid reader, dog mom, baker and care package maker. She blogs all about life as a military wife at Countdowns and Cupcakes, a place where military spouses, new and experienced alike, can come for support, encouragement, a little humor and maybe a care package idea or two. She can also be found on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Etsy and Bloglovin.