The Deployment ABCs is a 26-week series where I cover every deployment-related topic, from care packages to homecomings to OPSEC. Tips, tricks and maybe a resource or two to help military spouses navigate their way through the craziness that is a deployment. If there’s a topic you’d like for me to cover or are interested in adding your own thoughts to, send me an email and we’ll chat!
Raise your hand if you’re a communicator. If you could see me right now, I’d be waving both hands around wildly in the air. Luckily for me, I have two dogs and a husband who make excellent listeners. Honestly, going home and talking to A (and the dogs) is my favorite part of the day. That naturally makes deployments a little tricky for me because daily chats are kind of out of the question. While it’s not ideal, I think that with a little work and creativity, deployment communication can be mastered. Over the past few years, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that have made it almost seem like A’s not even gone. Sometimes.
Why is deployment communication so different and so important?
Deployment communication can be a little more difficult for a few reasons: distance, time differences, duration of time apart and the completely different lifestyles. So yes, it’s hard. But I would argue that it’s also exceptionally important for those same reasons. Without good communication, deployments can really take a toll on relationships. Maybe you fail to share negative stuff for so long that bigger issues arise. Maybe the lack of communication only exaggerates pre-existing issues. Maybe not being able to share your life with each other starts to force you to grow apart. Whatever the reason, it can happen and we’ve all seen it happen to other couples.
But I don’t think it HAS to happen. And for my relationship, I’ve decided that it WON’T happen! Here are a few ways A and I rock deployment communication.
In each of A’s care packages, I send a letter. A big long mushy handwritten letter. Sometimes I even spray it with my perfume. #cheesy
While I’m a huge fan of emails (see below), I also love letters. They’re tangible and real and last forever. Plus I have mental images of tying them up with pretty ribbon and saving them for our grandchildren to read and be blown away by our love. #extracheesy
Letters are awesome, but occasionally you just need the immediate satisfaction of getting something to someone right away. That’s why I also love email. I like to send A daily emails filled with updates, photos and funny little clipart. None of them contain anything terribly earth-shattering (one time I live-emailed while I watched Top Gun for the first time), but they help me keep him in the loop of what’s happening at home. And he gets the added benefit of being able to read them when he can/wants to and not getting a 25-minute long rant about how someone cut me off in traffic on Tuesday.
Whenever possible, A and I video chat while he’s deployed. I like it so much better than phone calls because I can see his face and watch him smile. For whatever reason, I feel better about him being safe when I can actually see him. These can be hard to pull off because of the possible time differences, but we both found that if I was willing to chat during dinner and if A was willing to stay up super late, we could make it happen. And they absolutely made my day. I don’t know how he did it, but he always seemed to time them just at the perfect moment and they gave me the boost I needed to continue on.
My deployment communication favorite is definitely Google Hangouts. We found this on our last deployment and it blew me away! It combines video chat functions with instant messaging. If your loved one has a reliable internet connection, you can chat almost instantaneously. I installed the app on my phone and it was kind of like A and I were just texting! Cue all the heart eye emojis. Plus this way I didn’t have to worry about missing his messages or video calls while I was out and about. I think Skype has very similar properties, but we could never get it to work reliably for us.
How do you keep in touch during deployment?