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These arguments turn what we go through into an unnecessary contest and turns us against each other. Instead of worrying about who had it worse, we should focus on how to encourage our fellow friends and military spouses. So many of us need encouragement during deployments instead of feeling put down for judged for going through a separation, whether it be big or small.
If your spouse is gone for two weeks it’s HARD. If your spouse is gone for 16 months it’s HARD. It may be hard on a different level, but both still have their husband gone. Both or still alone. Both are still single parents for that amount of time. So why argue about it?
If you’re worried about the number of deployments your spouse has gone on, don’t be. Why does it matter? Whether your spouse has been on eight deployments or just one, both families may still be struggling with a lot of the same things. Each family knows what it is like to go through a deployment and can use that to encourage others who are or will be going through the same thing.
How to Turn Deployments Into a Way to Encourage Instead of a Contest
1. Think About What You’ve Been Through.
Think of everything you have gone through on past deployments or during a current deployment and put yourself in your friend’s shoes. Try to understand what they are going through. Remember whether it’s their first deployment or fifth, it’s still hard. You may think, “But I am the one who really needs some encouragement right now.” That might be true, but sometimes taking time out to help someone else is what you really need to make you feel better. Plus, you never know how they might return the favor to you next time!
2. Don’t Compare.
Don’t bring up the fact that you have been through numerous deployments or the fact that your husband’s deployment might be longer than theirs. Instead, use your words to encourage and lift up. Say, “I am here for you no matter what.” or “I’m sorry your husband will be deploying, what can I do to help?” You can even offer to trade kids so you both get a night out and a break. Think before you speak and remember whatever would hurt you, will probably hurt them as well.
3. Don’t say “You’ll be fine.”
There is nothing that annoys a military spouse more than, “You’ll be fine.” It comes across as though you don’t care. How do you know they will be fine? Maybe they will have a rough time with it this time around or maybe they are really scared but don’t know how to tell you. Instead say, “You can do it!” and “I am here for you.” Remind them of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Don’t put others down, instead, be a cheerleader and an encourager. THAT is what military spouses need the most when their spouse is deployed.
What about YOU? Do you see military spouses making deployments into a contest? What have you done instead?