When you meet someone you love and choose to spend the rest of your lives together, you each make a promise–to make it work through the good and the bad, and through sickness and in health, no matter the cost. There will never be one correct remedy for military spouses in long-distance relationships since every situation is a case-by-case scenario. However, the emotional health and overall well-being of the bond can remain strong if partners focus on the essentials of their relationship and acknowledge their intertwined paths, as well as their separate lives, while maintaining honest communication. In the end, only one thing really matters: that you love each other.
Focus on Communication and Honesty
Clear communication and honesty with one another is important for any healthy relationship, but it becomes even more vital when distance is involved. Consider the fact that the dialogue between you two will be exchanged without visually seeing each other, so choose your words carefully. Conversations, letters and days spent at home can get cut short, so don’t waste your time on bickering about unimportant topics of making futile points that won’t matter down the line. Suppressing your real emotions actually requires more energy from you than expressing them. Instead of beating around the bush or biting your tongue in fear of backlash, say your truth and be clear about it.
Be Flexible and Open-Minded
Plans change, and that’s okay. Don’t get discouraged if your partner doesn’t have time to speak with you if their deployment location changes or your availability doesn’t match up. Even though it may be frustrating to go long periods without talking to your loved one, being in less contact is not correlated to the strength of your relationship. Rather than dwelling on unfavorable outcomes, you can take the time to turn your attention to other aspects of your life, personal goals. Furthermore, this isn’t just about you. Be mindful of your partner’s feelings and frustrations as well. Adaptability and understanding can be just as important as communication and commitment.
Continue to Make Plans Together
The obvious physical distance between you and your spouse can become less daunting if the two of you continue to work as a pair to move forward in your lives. From making decisions like buying military ribbons to making bigger plans involving your family, instilling concrete plans puts focus on the future, rather than dwelling on the time spent apart. It’s inevitable that you still try to include your partner in your life to remind him or her that they are relevant and important. Don’t be afraid to dream big, either. Planning goals with your spouse can strengthen your relationship by instilling tangible milestones and holding each other accountable to the promises you made to each other.
Don’t Forget About Your Personal Goals as Well
While it’s important for you to include your partner on plans that involve both of you, make sure you set time aside for your personal life. You can pick up a hobby, join a club or concentrate on personal development. What do you want to gain as not only a spouse but as a human being? Don’t be afraid to chase after your own goals while your partner is away because you deserve it. The separation can be liberating at times, rather than restricting. Remember, your life may involve your spouse, but it doesn’t revolve around them.
Maintain Your Close Friendships
Don’t close yourself off to the ones who care about you. Although you may think your friends may be unable to empathize with what you’re going through, don’t confuse their inexperience with ignorance. Your close friends will be your primary source of emotional support and social activity, especially if you have children or are far away from other family members, so maintaining your friendships is crucial. At times, it may be easier to hide out and be alone but make an effort to go out and see people. Even if you think you don’t want to be social, consider a different perspective and think about how your friends want to see you, too. If you and your spouse have mutual friends and you stop going out when your partner is deployed, your friends will end up losing not only one but two of their close friends.
Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Support
When the loneliness becomes too much to bear on your own, don’t hesitate to look for emotional or informational support. Each branch of service has varying types of support groups, but they essentially share the same purpose in providing guidance and giving access to other military-related resources. You can also utilize the military resources to further expand your knowledge about your spouse’s deployment, supplementary benefits and military jargon. For instance, military medals are commendable, but they can also offer financial benefits as well such as a promotion or a guaranteed slot at West Point for your son or daughter if your spouse earns the Medal of Honor. Familiarizing yourself with these things can alleviate some of the anxiety you may have and even make you feel closer to your spouse by understanding his or her life.
Remind Your Spouse That You Love Them
You’ll naturally want to try and make your conversations as fruitful as possible, trying to cram in multiple topics of discussion in one short phone call, but it’s often best to take a moment to pause to say, “I love you.” Planning your trip, picking up a new hobby and attending your support groups can all assuage the void that’s created when your partner is away. Don’t let tasks that keep you busy or distracted become crutches because they are just temporary band-aids waiting to fall off. Remembering your love for your partner and reminding them of your love will reapply the glue to your relationship and make it easier to sustain. And since it’s so simple to say, why not just tell them anyway?