Thursday, June 4, 2015

Let's Support Each Other

I don't write about being a military spouse very often, but this topic is something I feel very passionate about because, well, I hope to be what I want from others.

I was going to start by mentioning the longest amount of time I've had to spend away from my husband, and then I was going to follow it up by including the amount of days I've had to go with absolutely no contact, but then I realized that doesn't matter. And it doesn't add or take away from my "right" to write this post. 

Granted, each type of separation and situation has it's own stresses and worries, I don't think it distracts from the fact that as military spouses, we should support each other. 

I've had friends with husbands in civilian jobs vent about the frustration and sadness they feel when their husbands go on a business trip, but then follow it up with "I'm so sorry, I shouldn't complain, your husband is gone a lot." While it can be tempting to be like "Ummmm ONE NIGHT? That's NOTHING," the reality is, because I know what it feels like to have my husband gone, I of all people should be the most understanding and supportive, not critical or belittling to her experience. 

I've also learned a few things (through observation and/or experience)

1) Sometimes, Alex will leave for 2-3 weeks and I will think NOTHING of it. Sometimes, he will leave for 2 days and I cry way more than I care to admit. Why? I don't know. Every situation is different and comes at a very different places in our lives. You never really get 100% used to it no matter the duration of time. (Although I am grateful to have friends that are awesome examples of women who have been married to service members for a while and show their willingness and ability to continuously adapt and move forward---that's pretty important). 

2) It doesn't help anyone to belittle or look down on someone for their experience. You never know what else could be going on in someone's life to cause it to be so difficult to have their husband gone, regardless of the amount of time. Everyone responds to stress and change differently. Also, honestly, the more judgy you are, the more people come to disrespect you. I resent statements like "Oh honey, he's only going to be gone for 2 days? That's nothing, just wait, I've spent a total of 1056 days alone." Seriously, as if keeping a tally of all the days wins points towards being the best military spouse ever. I'm not discounting the fact that some spouses have spent a lot more time alone than others, but I'm sure it wasn't easy at the beginning for them, either. It's  also easy to forget that there are a lot of different factors that could cause your spouse to be away more often than others. 

3) Be respectful in your venting. Maaaaaaaybe it isn't the best time to vent about a short term field training to someone whose husband is currently deployed.  Or maybe they will ask you to talk about it for the sake of being able to miss your husbands together. Also, be careful with the words "I know what you're going through." You really, really don't. Every situation is so different and every life/marriage/family is so different. (Words I learned never to use after I lost my dad). 

4) It's okay to miss your husband, it's probably a good sign if you do. ;) Also, it's okay for other women to miss their husbands, regardless of the amount of time they will be gone. 

5) If you are a more "seasoned" military spouse, we need your example. We look to you to see that life does keep moving forward, and that we are capable of doing it on our own. We also need to be given grace when we don't handle it well. 

Strength is built during our struggles and I pray for a community of spouses that encourages and lifts each other up (something I'll admit-I'm not always the greatest at), offers support and understanding during the difficult times, and brings joy to each other and our community. 

Also, by positively contributing to the community, we can focus on  supporting, loving, and praying for the service members who spend so much time away doing very difficult, and most of the time, very dangerous stuff. Let's not forget that what's hard on us is typically 2-3 times harder on them. 



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