Deployments are difficult for every member of the family. Although those long-term separations typically take anywhere from several months to a year (or more), they usually seem like a lot longer. However, you can make the most of your time apart to strengthen your family relationships and to achieve all of your individual goals. Let’s take a look at some example.
While forced separations like a deployment can strain a marriage, they’re also an opportunity to grow, to reflect, and to take inventory of your relationship, and what you can do to make it stronger.
Some couples read marriage books or take classes while separated by deployment. If are unable to stay in contact by phone or video, on a consistent basis, write letters as you progress through the books and discuss what you’ve learned and the things you want to incorporate when you’re together again.
The simple act of writing letters to each other may add a little spark to your relationship, and the letters themselves may become treasures that you’ll value throughout your marriage.
Are you looking to get out of debt? Maybe you want to save for retirement, the children’s college fund, or your dream house. All of these goals require planning and hard work to achieve. As with relationship-building courses, financial courses are available for military families. Some even include programs to get the kids involved and offer some great tools to help teach them about money management.
While your family is separated, commit to working through at least one of these courses together, and implement the strategies that work for you. Set a goal you want to reach by the time your servicemember returns.
Taking on a few extra projects is a great way to keep your mind occupied during the deployment.
If you have teenagers at home, this may be the time for them to get a part-time job. If you’re not working outside the home, you may enjoy volunteering and give back to your community in your field of choice.
If you are working, now could be the time to take on a new task at work and expand your experience. Your new skills could position you for a promotion or transfer to a different department.
Online colleges have provided new opportunities for military servicemembers and their families. If you’re deployed, you may be able to take classes online towards your degree. If you’re a spouse, you can start or continue a degree program without having to worry about finishing before your family needs to change duty stations again. With online schools, your college travels with you.
If you’re looking update your certifications, Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families offer courses towards certifications and professional skill sets. These programs are free and can be completed entirely on line.
Outside of school, there are plenty of other ways to establish educational goals for your whole family. Learn a new language together, or give the kids a reading list and have them write book reports the deployed servicemember can read when he or she gets home.
Still working on losing those pesky holiday pounds? Or maybe you’ve always wanted to run a marathon. Physical activity is a well known way to reduce stress and improve overall health. Share your fitness goals with your family and cheer each other on as the deployment progresses!
Meditation is also a great way to improve your health and manage stress during a deployment. Taking time for yourself and your well-being can go a long way toward maintaining a happy home throughout a deployment.
Make the Most of Your Resources
Remember, the entire military family community is here to help you and your family navigate the stresses of deployment. There are tons of resources available to you through each phase of the deployment cycle. By setting attainable goals, you can set your focus on positive change and celebrate each achievement on homecoming day.