When Military Spouses Turn Deployments Into a Contest
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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?
Ahhh I loved this Kathryn!!! So very very true! And I loved the "Don't tell me "You'll be fine" that's one thing I hate too 😉
Another super irritating one- well you are used to it by now. UMMM-No I'm not. You never get used to missing half of your heart!! Like you said, first or 3rd, 1 week or 1 year, you just don't get used to it! We make due because we have to. Love this article!!
One of the most irritating things I've heard regardng separations was "Well you knew this was coming". My mom and a few friends have said that to me and I just don't see the point. Is that supposed to magically make it better? I haven't dealt with a deployment yet, but I've noticed that some women tend to make darn near everything a competition. I just try to steer clear of them.
What a great post! I have noticed this going on, and it makes me very sad that something that all women and their spouses need support for becomes a competition. Another thing that I've noticed is when non-military spouses are gone for their job, is that some military spouses get annoyed when they express that they miss their husband and are having a difficult time alone. I think that no matter what, separation is separation, and it is difficult no matter what. I really loved reading this!
It might not be a contest. But its still annoying to see people complain about a 2 week tdy or a 1 mth deployment. While people have to deal with a 6-12mth one.
Complaining is never the right approach (and tends to be annoying regardless, though people may understand a bit more if it's a 6 to 12 month separation that we complain about). But yeah, I've felt guilty for struggling with a one month separation too. I don't really want to admit it to anyone either, because I know there are many going through much longer times.
Great post, Kathryn. I admit, I've been guilty of comparing at one point or another. I come from a military family and my sisters and I all married into/became military ourselves. I can remember rolling my eyes when my sister said her husband would be deployed for 30 days, mentally grumbling to myself that she should try a 15 months. You are so right, it doesn't matter. We should support each other at all times!
Love this post! We are in the boat of shorter deployments, but they happen very frequently. It might be shorter, but it is still hard to have him coming and going.
@ Anonymous – Just think of it this way, you might not know everything going on in their lives, so that 1 month TDY or whatever, might be harder for them then a year of separation. That's why we're called not to judge others.
I agree it's sad to see people making it a contest. I've had issues with this in the past, not with deployment, but with all the TDYs the Military has put him on and the traveling he does as a civilian. It's always hard and we should be lifting each other up instead of knocking each other down. 🙂
I can understand if a lot of hard things go on in 1 mth compared to a 6mth , 9mth, 12mth deployment. But the thing is, people start complaining early on before it even starts. Like boo hoo I have a 1 mth deployment, really? How do you think that makes others feel.
They dont even know whats going to happen, or how fast it will go by.
Their children wont have thier parent for 4-5 weeks, compared to a 6 mth, or even a whole year.
There is a HUGE difference.
Its like complaining that you cant get pregnant after 1-2mths to or around a person that cant get pregnant for a year.
This is a great post. Thank you so much for sharing. I think one of the best things you can do to encourage someone during a deployment is being there for them. Not just saying that you're there, but literally stopping by, dropping off food, or anything of the like to spend some time with them is much more encouraging than anything (in my opinion).
LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!
I am currently going through my first deployment and this post is perfect to me!
@Anonymous: And, there are spouses who will not have their loved ones come home at all and children who will grow without them to look up to. In that sense, is 6, 9, 12, or 15 months that awful? You are perpetuating exactly what Kathryn addressed here – a competition. This is one competition I will gladly lose to the amazing people that have to put their lives back together after losing their spouse.
I love this! I've seen people make it a competition and dragging others down. I just posted on my facebook status that my guy would be gone and i would miss him. that was it. i was not complaining, but simply stating that i would miss seeing him. people wrote on my wall… try a deployment, two weeks is nothing, and other things. at no point was i complaining. i don't understand, because missing someone is missing someone. everyone is in it together.
What an awesome post, Thank you. I just posted something similar on my blog, only with regards to a civilian and the "you knew what you were getting into" comment.
We never know EXACTLY what we are getting into, just like marriage and having kids. We do not know anyone's situation, so as was pointed out 1 week might seem like bliss to me, but painfully difficult for someone else.
We should meet others where their needs are…I have a civilian friend who admits she could never handle deployments as she struggles when her hubby is out of town for a couple months but close enough to come home most weekends or for her to go there…I don't begrudge her that. Her life is different than mine. I try to help her & be there, just as she tries to help me & be there. Its what we do, and what all spouses should do.
I would have desperately loved to have an experienced military wife come along side me during my first deployment…our experiences are different, yes, but also alike.
You are never adequately prepared nor do you ever truly get used to it…or you are not being honest with yourself. (Just my $0.02).
I will admit that I have thought (to myself, never said outloud) some of this. Mostly because of my hubby being a reservist so we are around mostly civilians who would try to compare a business trip to a deployment. I would think to myself that I do not see how 2 wks even begins to compare to 15 months…I know its wrong the attitude, but I did think it…when really I should have appreciated that they were trying to let me know that they understand/care or whatever.
I do share the # of deployments we have gone through. I do not want it to come across as I have been through more so I have it worse or anything like that. I share it mostly when advice is asked for and I share what I have learned or experiences gained from those deployments. (because you really do learn something different with each deployment)
Any seperation from the one you love is hard, the length of time does not matter. We absolutely need to be a form of encouragement for each other…there is enough to bring us down without trying to compare. =)
thanks for this post Kathryn!