Is a deployment interrupting special days like Christmas with your spouse? No worries. You can change Christmas on the calendar and celebrate the holiday any time of year! Even if July doesn't work, choose any day after your spouse redeploys and practice the same traditions you would keep during the traditional calendar. If you both share a spiritual reason for celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or other holiday, take time to write each other a special holiday card and letter. In it you can express how wonderful it is to share such treasured, spiritual beliefs. The important thing is to remember that while deployments are difficult, your times together can make up for any distress created by the separations that come with the military lifestyle.
All couples have disagreements, though military couples have the extra burden of trying to work through their marital issues while often physically apart. It may be tempting to focus on your spouse's flaws as a way to cope with missing them so much and being concerned for their safety. Oddly, we often choose anger as a feeling of choice in order to ignore painful emotions like sadness or anxiety. During a deployment, try to focus on the positive aspects of your spouse and avoid having major disagreements through texts, email, and brief cellphone calls. It's best to save disagreements for when you are physically together and can focus on solutions, forgiveness, and resolve. This way, if the need arises, you can seek support from a chaplain or marriage counselor. If a deployment occurs before a major marital distress has been resolved, seek individual counsel until you're reunited and table any major discussions about the issue while apart. Remember what's important - your commitment and love for each other, a safe return from deployment, and working together to stay strong in your union!
Military marriages survive and thrive frequent separations throughout the service member's career. In order to thrive, both spouses and service members need to be comfortable with asking for support. Service members - talk with the unit chaplain or a trusted comrade as time allows. Spouses - utilize supports offered on post/base or if you're dislocated from a major installation, allow family and friends to help you. Even reach out to a counselor in the community for a safe place to voice your distress.
Once reunited from a deployment, take time to acknowledge the sacrifices you both have made and celebrate your growth as a strong military couple!