Staying Close While Living Apart

10 Ways to Keep Your Family Strong During Deployment

Keeping your relationship with your spouse strong can be tough when you’re both living under the same roof. And it can be a lot tougher when one of you is deployed. But just because he or she is far away doesn’t mean that you can put your relationship on hold. In fact as long as you both keep communicating and adapting, your relationship may actually thrive during a deployment—even if all you have are occasional letters and calls. Here are 10 easy ways to help you stay close while living apart. 

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    communicating with deployed dad
    Getty Images/Ariel Skelley

    The best remedy for missing your loved one is talking together. Thanks to so much amazing technology, (video chats, phone calls, emails, messaging apps, and more) there are lots of ways to let your husband know how much you love and miss him. Encourage your children to spend time communicating with their deployed parent, too; have them send emails, write cards or letters, and send loving packages. Let each child have some one-on-one time with dad, and also make sure to have some shared time to...MORE virtually hang as a family..

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    The best way to help your family adjust to a deployment is to keep everyone on as consistent a schedule as possible. If your kids are used to waking up, doing activities throughout the day, eating dinner, and going to sleep at a specific times, try to keep those schedules intact. Doing so will make the entire transition smoother and will help the kids feel as though at least one thing in their life has stayed the same. You could integrate new activities, such as spending time together at night...MORE writing emails to dad or recording yourselves reading a story to send to him. Activities like these will help keep him connected to everyone back home even when he’s far away.  

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    Just because your spouse is away from home doesn’t mean that you can’t make parenting decisions together. As much as possible, keep your spouse in the loop, and let him know what’s going on each child’s life. If there’s a discipline problem or some other serious matter, try to get your spouse’s input—but only if he’s able to actually do something about it. A distracted servicemember can be a danger to himself, his fellow soldiers, and his mission. 

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    making memories
    Getty Images/Hero Images

    Before the parent in uniform leaves on deployment, try to make some memories that will last. Perhaps that’s a teddy bear with a recording of dad’s voice saying goodnight or a picture that can go next to the child’s bedside. Small tokens of love like these can bring great comfort to a child who’s sorely missing dad or mom. Send as much time as possible together making memories and having fun. If you’re the servicemember, during the deployment, you can remind children of the good times and promise...MORE to make more memories when you’re back home. And before you leave, consider leaving behind some secret voice recordings or notes for your wife to find. Those small tokens will mean a lot, especially when she is missing you so much.  

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    It’s tempting to throw a big party as soon as a deployed parent comes home, but that’s rarely a good idea. Different children readjust in different ways to family life with dad back at home. And remember that your spouse is readjusting to being back home, too, and it’s important to give him plenty of space and time. Encouraging the kids to spend time with dad on their own before everyone else is around can also make a big difference. 

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    care package for military
    Getty Images/ Jamie Grill

    Care packages are a wonderful way to show dad how much you love and miss him. Ask each child to make something special that they know dad will love. Care packages can do a lot to boost the morale of a loved one who is far away. Your spouse will be happily surprised to open a package containing some of his favorite foods, drawings, useful items, letters, and photos. Care packages and other special messages are especially welcome during the holidays or other special times, as that’s when you’ll be...MORE missing each other the most. 

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    support network during deployment
    Getty Images/Tom Merton

    If you’re at home and your spouse is away, it’s important to have a support net. This can be family members, friends, new neighbors, women in your neighborhood or at your job. Who’s in the network isn’t important, as long as they’re able to cheer you up, support you, show you love, and give encouragement when you need it.  

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    Every couple fights, even those who are geographically far apart and have infrequent communication. Remember that having fights or disagreements is normal and doesn’t mean that things are over between you. Learn to be patient, loving, and kind and encourage your spouse to do the same. As you decompress after a fight, think about where you could have been more honest or understanding. Try to do better next time you talk. 

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    Take a few minutes away from gushing about the kids or your job to talk about yourselves. You should compliment and support your spouse. Point out his/her strengths and gently mention ways to strengthen his weaknesses. Schedule date nights every once in a while—times when the kids will be gone and you can stay up late talking and being romantic and intimate with each other. This is important for your and your partner’s health—and the health of your relationship. 

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    maintain family traditions during deployment
    Getty Images/KidStock

    Celebrate holidays and other events just like you always have, even if you’re in a new place. Create new traditions, too, by including neighbors or new friends in your holiday plans. ​ 

These tips are great to help you maintain close ties with a spouse or parent who is far from home. It’s not always easy to have a long distance relationship during deployments and it’s ok if you struggle sometimes. If you’re prepared and are doing your best each day, things will turn out well.