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5 First Timer Deployment Lessons

When my husband deployed early this year for the first time I had no idea what to expect. We had only been married for nine months when he left.  We had just enough time to get used to living together and not be in a long distance relationship.

Deployment thrust us right back into that lifestyle. Unlike our time dating, there would be no weekend visits every month. His deployment was nine months long so there was no R&R–nine whole months without seeing my best friend and love of my life. I knew that I would miss him immensely.I did.  Now that the deployment is coming to an end, I realize I learned these five things along the way:

1.  You can still work on your marriage.  The beauty of technology means that your relationship can keep moving forward even when you are far apart.  Partly because my husband had a staff job during his deployment, we were able to talk online almost every day. But what we talked about wasn’t just the weather or our days, we talked about what we missed about each other and what we were looking forward to doing together when he got home.  We listened to each other. Honestly, we’ve never felt closer. Sure, we had some miscommunications along the way.  But overall, we focused on conversations about us, not everything else.

2. Don’t freak out when your loved one isn’t online.  The downside of that beautiful technology means that even silences can mean something. When someone is injured or killed in action there is a blackout until the family is notified, and it’s easy to notice. You don’t hear from your loved one on a day that they planned to call.  I found that there were a lot of times when I worried over nothing. The Internet was just out. The phones were out. Sometimes this was because of strong wind or technology issues. Or my husband was just that busy. I wasted a lot of days worrying. I had to remind myself that if something happened to him that I would know already.

3.    You can and will make amazing friends. When we moved to Joint Base Lewis-McChord we hardly knew anyone. Our friends prior to his deployment  were his co-workers in his shop. Only a few were married or dating someone and  I liked those ladies.  As the deployment started, I met even more people through my work, my FRG and the Lewis Community Spouses Club. A lot of these new ladies were going through deployments at the same time, so it was easy to relate to one another.  We also had time to hang out. These women have become great friends, and I’m so thankful for all those weekend outings, dinner dates, and celebrations. While we are all excited to get our husbands back, I’m so excited to have girl time when we all need a break from the guys!

4.    Halfway point is not as joyous as you may think. I was beyond excited to get to 4.5 months. I think I even miscalculated it so that I could say that we were halfway through the deployment. What I didn’t realize before that halfway day was that I had to do that same amount of time without my husband again. When I realized that I fell into a self-pity daze, hoping maybe there would be a light at the end of the tunnel, but alas no. When I realized that, I got back up on my feet and got back to life. It was the only way to get through the remaining months.

5.    The strain of deployment lasts until the end. I found out when my husband was coming home about a month in advance. It was very tentative but even in those remaining weeks we had communication issues. And I was still worried. I attended a brigade event on redeployment and the chaplain asked, “When will you stop holding your breath?” Everyone replied, “When he’s in my arms.” And it’s true. He’s still away. He’s still in an unsafe location. He’s still not home. So when that formation is released, he’s getting the biggest hug in his life. Until then I’m worrying and staying up late, just in case he gets online.

That’s what I learned during out deployment, what did you learn during yours?

 Born and raised in Phoenix, Jessica moved to NYC for college, where not only did she discover her love of magazines, food, and travel, she met her Army husband. As they move across the country, and hopefully the world, together, she is working on her graduate degree, honing her cooking skills, and making their home together. Currently they live at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. She blogs about her Military Spouse life at http://morethanamilitaryspouse.wordpress.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter @jessicahall0625

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