Pre-deployment -the Storm before the suck

I’m not one to sugar coat anything besides cookies so I’m not going to try to make people feel better by saying the time before your spouse leaves is always happy bliss. Pre-deployment isn’t the calm before the storm but rather kind of  the sucky cloudy days of life that happen before the hurricane like worst couple to follow, at least for me. It’s not the same for everyone but I think a majority of spouses will agree it’s not a party.

Before a deployment your spouse could be super busy; maybe working long hours or on a different schedule that keeps them at work longer, doing things for work more or just overall tired. Weekends that used to be spent walking beaches or going to the movies might end up being spent shopping for things they’ll need, making a lot of arrangements for when they’re gone and preparing everything.

This is not fun. I hate getting stuff ready for my husband to leave, whether a long deployment or a short underway, I almost always end up crying a lot (okay… maybe I’m just slightly over emotional sometime).  He usually doesn’t end up packing his bag till the night before he leaves otherwise its like a constant reminder staring us in the face. Going out with a list of stuff to last for 6 months of them being gone can be even harder. It’s like a huge elephant, (or in our case, maybe a huge boat?) in the room. It’s something we have to talk and deal with but want to avoid at all costs .

A lot of times this can lead to unhappy significant others, arguments, a feeling of ‘why don’t you just go already?’ or my personal favorite, ‘It’s not fair, why does this have to happen to us?’ Don’t let this frustration or anger destroy the few weeks or days you have before they have to leave. In my personal experience, which I love to share, I could not for the life of me understand why, being so happy together in our little routine, we had to be put through being separated for so long. So when D-day (Deployment Day) came along all I could ask him was “Why? Why us?” To which my loving sweet husband answered, “…because we are lucky enough to get to fall in love with each other all over again when I come home.”

I know, so sappy but also true.

Here are some helpful tips for before deployment.

// Remember where you started, why you got married and what makes you love each other so much.

Make sure to spend the time with your spouse you have before they leave. Don’t send them off with a fight or being distant because you’re upset. It won’t make you feel better. Also send your husband or spouse off with tons of reminders of why you love them, what’s waiting for them when they come home and the memories you hold the dearest to your heart. If you have kids have them make something they can keep on them while gone.

I love to send cards with my husband almost every time he leaves. I buy them up like its going out of style and fill them up with tons of lovely messages for him to reread and carry with him. If you have a FRG (Family Readiness Group is what we call it) or some other group for your boat that gets together to do deployment crafts, GO! They do fundraisers and cool stuff that gets given to your loved ones throughout the deployment as little pick me ups and the sailors love them. Trust me, anything to remind them of home or being happy will make their days.

// Preparation.

Another important thing to prepare for before a deployment is all the thing you don’t realize you may need your spouse for. I’m not just talking opening pickle jars here people, it’s more than that. We moved into a house right before my husbands first deployment and that meant a yard to manage, anything around the house needing fixing was my job, car maintenance  I had no clue about. Even something as simple as needing paper work related to your husband can be a hassle when they aren’t around.

A lot of time there will be a check list you can go off. (I linked a few below). Make sure your ID’s not going to expire, you have any papers you might (or even might not) need that they won’t give to anyone but your spouse, make sure you know what to do to your car if you don’t have anyone to ask. Preparing your house and life for the deployment is almost as important a preparing mentally.

// Emotional education.

From personal experience, education before deployment, especially the first one is really important. Don’t assume because you feel like you can, that you totally have a handle on everything you’ll feel or do. I know myself pretty well after 20 some odd years of being me but my lovely husband laid out for me in his weird ‘read every emotion on your face’ way a lot of the bottled up emotions I was feeling before he left.

Unfortunately, when it comes to turning away after that last goodbye you really can’t truly know how you’ll feel till it happens so do some research, find support from other military wives who may have gone through it and really think about how it’ll feel and plan for it. I was surprised the research done on it and was more surprised at how hard it was on me when it really hits you how long 6 months (or more in some cases) can really be.

Here are some good resources on what the time of deployment can be like:

The Emotional Cycle of Deployment

Predeployment checklist -Navy

Predeployment checklist for military families

Preparing for deployment

I hope this is helpful for any spouse out there preparing or who haven’t yet gone through a deployment. I’ve only experienced one so far but it gives you a great perspective. It’s nice to hopefully be there for those who might not know who to turn to or where to go.

XOXO

-C

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