If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.
- J.M. Coetzee
Life as the husband or wife of a deployed soldier isn’t easy. There are the obvious challenges of loneliness and fear, but the battle raging at home goes much further than that.
For those left to keep the home fires burning, often the hardest thing to do is keep those fires lit.
The actual circumstances vary widely, from a wife dealing with cranky cars to a husband dealing with cranky kids. The truth is that everything breaks while a soldier’s away.
Unless you’ve actually had to live apart from a military spouse during deployment, it can be hard to understand how debilitating these small hurdles are. Taken one at a time, a leaky faucet, malfunctioning washing machine and broken-down car look like life as we all know it. But the little things–faced alone–add up to a weight that’s truly unbearable.
The key here is support. As a military spouse you need to know there are people who want to help right now and just don’t know how. They’re waiting for the opportunity to support you.
It’s so hard to ask for help, I know. But it’s worth it. You may find yourself so buried by these small chores that you don’t know where to start asking for help. Here are some tips to get you digging out and tapping into the support around you.
Make a list.
Jot down all those things that need doing. These are things you don’t know how to do, don’t have time to do and, yes, even don’t want to do. Don’t look at this list as an enumeration of your failures, but rather as an opportunity for others to serve the soldier you love by supporting you.
Keep it handy.
I recommend you transfer your list to your smart phone or carry it with you. Then if someone asks how they can help, you’re not caught off guard. If you’re not prepared for that question, chances are you’ll answer with, “I’m fine, I don’t need a thing.”
Don’t be afraid.
It’s hard not to feel like a failure when you can’t handle everything. You already know–in your head, at least–that no one can handle everything. So quit expecting that of yourself.
These are some simple things to help you survive while your loved one is away. Now it’s your turn. How do you manage when deployment life gets too heavy to carry?
Edie Melson is a leading professional in the publishing industry. She also knows what it’s like to send a loved one off to war. Her oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corp boot camp, to Iraq; where he served two tours fighting on the front lines as an infantry Marine. Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle, is Edie’s heart project. Look for her two newest books for military families debuting in 2014: While My Son Serves and While My Husband Serves. You can also connect with Edie on Twitter and Facebook.