Marooned at home - life as a military wife
As Armed Forces Day this year may not go ahead, I wanted to write a little about the stresses and strains of military life. For the last 15 years I have been a military girlfriend and now spouse. The Royal Marines and Royal Navy have both played a big part in my relationship and life with my husband as deployments, weekend commuting and operational tours (both on land and at sea) have meant many weeks and months apart.
As separation is a large part of being in a relationship with someone in the military, here are 5 tips on how to handle the separation.
Put dates in your diary
It’s important to have things to look forward to, particularly at the beginning of a deployment, as the months on the calendar seem to endlessly stretch away from you. Whether that is time out with friends, a break away to visit family or a regular class to learn something new, booking events will break up the time you have left and be fun too.
Find your tribe
There are times when having a chat or moan(!) to someone in the same boat (I love a good pun!) can really help. They understand the frustrations and demands that separation can put on those left behind. There are usually lots of social events if you live near a base. There is also the Military Wives Choir for those who like to sing (and are female!), or you can virtually find your tribe with groups on social media.
The stiff upper lip
It’s ok to let people know that you’re having a difficult time and that this deployment isn’t plain sailing. Whether that’s friends, family, virtual friends through groups I mentioned above or a professional such as a counsellor. Finding some stress management techniques that really work for you can help as well - apps such as Headspace or Calm are good. You may find a walk outside or exercise helps to put things into perspective when your world feels like it’s been turned upside down.
I have a saying that I never believe my husband is home until the ship touches the wall. As military spouses we have to be so adaptable to change. One day they are coming home tomorrow, two hours later it’s next week or whenever. Concentrate on what you can control, not what you can’t because it will drive you insane. Having a routine can be helpful as when (not if) the dates change you can continue on with your daily routine and plan things for the next date, whenever that may be!
Who’s looking after you?
Self-care is very important, but even more so when you are doing the work of two. Self-care isn’t always bubble baths and cake, although those are nice too! It’s about making time in the day to do something just for you that isn’t to do with shopping, housework, daily skin routine etc. Something that you enjoy doing just for you. If you find that it slips down your to do list, maybe make it a daily appointment in your phone, even for an hour.
I hope you’ve found these tips useful. If you’d like to contact me about finding support through counselling with someone who understands the military lifestyle, please contact me here.