Communication. It’s difficult in any marriage. But when you are married to a military service member, the challenges of communication are complicated by deployments and extended periods of separation. To say communication is difficult in a military marriage is putting it lightly. (OPSEC, anyone?)
In those moments– when the phone doesn’t ring or an email doesn’t pop up on your smartphone– you wonder “when is he going to call?”
Here is the good news: he will call. If he can, he will call you.
The methods of communication have been different for my husband and I during each of our four deployments. For the first deployment my husband and I wrote letters, talked on the phone about once a month, and had a period of time when he was online all day where he was working. Our second deployment he had Internet access in his room. This was nice because he was able to get online a lot. His third deployment was a little harder for him to communicate. During his fourth deployment we talked on Facebook most of the time.
Since I’ve experienced a variety of communication situations through four different deployments, I would like to offer these 3 tips for communication during a deployment.
Talk About Expectations
Before your spouse leaves, talk about your communication expectations for the deployment. Do you want him to write letters? How often would you like him to try to call? If calling everyday is an option do you want that?
Sometimes it is better to not talk everyday. Then you won’t need to worry about listening for his phone call at the movie theater with your friends. When he does call, you can give all your attention to that phone conversation.
Your military service member may know what type of communication methods he will have access to at his military base. But understand that compared to today’s world of constant contact, communication options may be very limited where they are stationed.
They might not have access to the Internet regularly and if they do, it can be spotty. Phone calls might be difficult to make based on what is available. Mail can take a while, even months.
On the other hand, some places are equipped with better technology. Sometimes the deployed service member is allowed his or her own cell phone and laptop computer. Be flexible and adaptable.
Expect Some Silence
Another thing you must remember is that sometimes your service member can’t contact you. I once waited a whole month before I heard from him, and although it is really hard and frustrating, I just had to do it. Keep in mind that as much as you are missing them, they are missing you.
Letter Writing is Romantic
Yes, writing letters is old-fashioned and your handwriting is awful, but sometimes it is the only method of communication during a deployment. Try to write letters during times when you can’t communicate any other way. It can be a romantic way to keep in touch when technology isn’t an option.
Communication during deployments is hard. With a little creativity and some patience, you will take this challenge to strengthen your marriage.