Don't pretend like everything is ok when it's not. Have someone you can confide in and be real with. Chances are you are not the only one struggling.
Have a plan in place to have someone watch your children on occasion so that you can have some alone time.
Be bold in asking your church how they can support you through this, and be bold in giving suggestions. It would be good for the church to have a key person to keep up with how you are doing...regularly.
Plan a coping strategy for the low days...be it soliciting a key contact person to pray or call in help with the kids while you get out for a few hours. It's hard to ask for help when you are struggling with depression.
Eat healthy and regulary...don't skip meals!
Seek out others who understand and are in a similar situation...or someone who has been there. (see Get Connected) Even if you are not near a military installation, there are ways to connect with others, and it will be worth it!
Focus on God's promises and his goodness and do all you can not to give in to fear and worry. Fully rest in the knowledge of who HE is, trusting that he will sustain you through this!!!!! (see Scripture and Encouragement)
Guard your Marriage
Don't put yourself in a compromising situation. For solid guidance, read Every Woman's Battle or Every Man's Battle to guard your thoughts and actions. Hang out with friends who are pro-marriage. (see Marriage)
If at all possible, journal. You will treasure this. If you are too busy, save e-mail correspondence between you and your spouse.
Move Home? Stay at the Military Installation?
Each situation is unique. Consider the level of support you and your family will receive with each option. The military community tends to offer more emotional support from others who've been there...done that. Moving home may provide more hands on support.
Solicit specific people to pray for you...both of you, prior to, during, and immediately after the deployment.
You are going through an incredibly hard season in your life. When people want to help, accept their help. (Yes, it's hard to receive!!) My philosophy on this is accept people's generosity, and when I am able, I will help others in their time of need.
Get your rest! I stayed up late way too many nights trying to stay on top of everything that needed to be done.
Time for You
Make sure you take time for yourself. Take up a new hobby...carve some fun time into your schedule that you can look forward to.
Don't feel like you have to be the Super Military Mom/Wife that's going to model to everyone around you how it's done. I came out of the last deployment disappointed with myself...that I should have been stronger. It will not always be easy and just plan on that.
When the guys deployed this last time, I heard myself saying at the FRG meeting “This deployment, we will not only survive, but strive perhaps learn a new language or take some classes that we have always wanted to!” After one emergency after another in the unit that kept me on the phone for days at a time and, sick children, being hospitalized myself and having to make my own arrangements for the children while I could not be with them, and many other difficulties, I thought we would not survive! When my husband returned home, I felt bad that we had not been able to do more of the things I had hoped. Then I realized, we had succeeded at making it through another 15 months deployment and that is an amazing feat in itself. (Author’s note: I am not naïve about how difficult a deployment is, I am just an eternal optimist about such things that we have no control over and have to accept.)
Submitted by Sherri T.
Get Out of Yourself!
I remember our first deployment; it was Saudi 1990 I believe. We had only been married about a year, neither one of us had ever heard about support groups unless it had to do with AAA! We had never been to one of those either. So I had no idea what I was getting into when Carl had been gone about a week and the Commanders wife phoned me to invite me to a meeting. It was one of the best things I have ever done during our military career. I was so touched during that meeting at the amount of people that were even MORE confused them ME! But something happened that night, we became sisters. We looked out for eachother,we shared our lives, the good and the bad and we became better wives because of it. So don't think you can just stay in your little house in your own little world and things will be ok. That is a sure fire way to lose your MIND. The best way to progress is to get out of YOURSELF.
Submitted by Anita L.
Homecoming - Fitting Dad back into the family
We have a rule at our house where when Daddy returns from deployment, he gets to be “fun Dad” for a couple of weeks. This means that he observes what I have been disciplining for and how I have been going about it. Then he slowly begins to take the reigns again and adds in his own style of child rearing and disciplining. This really helps him see where we are with what new things have been learned since he has left. With these extended deployments, the children have really grown and changed tremendously and where they are with what they have learned has also changed. I have had spouses say that they cannot wait until dad is home and they can have some alone time without the children. I agree that this is important but this is when we need to continue our selfless acts even longer. The guys have been in a highly stressful situation for a very long time and they can not just snap back into father mode right away. Let them have the joy of reuniting without the stress of having to discipline also. Our family has really benefited from doing this is in the long run.
Submitted by Sherri T.
Information and Support - FRG
When I am asked: "How is life as an Army wife?" My response is, "Never boring, almost adventurous." I grew up as an Army brat and thought I knew all there was to know about the Army. Marrying a soldier definitely proved me wrong. Without the unit Family Readiness Group (FRG), I believe I would have been lost. The information and support given by these great volunteers and spouses of service members is unbelievable. No one really can understand the trials of being a spouse of a person serving his or her country better than another soldier’s spouse. A soldier often has to put his country before his family. He does not work a 9 AM to 5 PM job, or only five days a week. Too often a regular day does not involve dinner with the family or tucking the children in at night. The soldiers spouse has to play both roles, and most importantly, assure the children that they are loved by both "mommy" and "daddy". Sometimes, doing this job, we forget about taking care of ourselves. We try to be so strong for both our soldier and our children that we sometimes neglect our feelings and needs. This is why the FRG is so important. They focus on the family. Sometimes I think I can do all and be all, and I refuse to ask for help. The FRG is the one place a spouse can ask for help and no one will ask why. They understand. For some, their first FRG experience may not have been pleasant, or they have been discouraged because some see the FRG as a gossip group. Others are just hesitant to be the new kid on the block. I too, have had this experienced. Don't let a few sour grapes ruin a chance to make some great friends. The only way to change what you don't like is by getting involved and changing it. If you did not feel welcomed at the first meeting, go back and make sure you make everyone you see feel welcomed. The FRG sponsors Christmas parties, offers childcare, and shares command approved information and unit news. A calendar of upcoming events and information about what your military institution has to offer is also available. I am so glad that I decided to attend an FRG meeting in our new unit. I am happy to support our soldiers and their spouses and I know when I need help they will be there for my family too.
Submitted by Colleen D.
Lifelong Friends - PWOC
Another great support system that nearly every post has is PWOC (Protestant Women of the Chapel). It is a women's Bible study offered through the chapel service. No, you do not have to attend chapel to go to this Bible study; you don't even have to be attending church anywhere for that matter. I can't say enough about what this organization has meant to me and my family during our 22 years in military service. On many occasions when we had orders to a new duty assignment I would not only know about the housing where we may live but also have the room dimensions! ...know about activities for my children and possible playmates, all the great places to eat in the area and who offered free kids meals on what night, but I would also have made a few friends over the phone and by email. So arriving at the new duty assignment was more like visiting a familiar place then so scary and cold and foreign. It always made us feel like we could hit the ground running and not waste any time getting into life at our new assignment and making it feel like HOME that much faster. Not to mention the things that I learned about God's word along the way when I attended these wonderful Bible studies. Things that I could apply to my life right then, not a bunch of thou shalt nots and so forth that seemed to be way out of my reach. This group of ladies were just normal like me, just trying to learn more about God's Word and live by it...to be good wives and mothers and live their life to the fullest as the Bible says. I have been involved with PWOC for about 12 years and I can honestly say you will not find a better support group. They laugh and cry and eat and pray together. They offer free child care for your children so you can have a break. You will find some life long friends in this group. And we all know that without friends NONE of us could make it as a military spouse.
Submitted by Anita L.