This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price for you, but I will receive a commission. All opinions are still my own.
This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price for you, but I will receive a commission. All opinions remain my own.
Here we are, post- Thanksgiving now, outside of Fort Drum, N.Y. We’re heading into what some would describe as the most wonderful time of the year. However, some may be struggling to buy into the hype this year, because they’re separated from their spouse for the holidays. My husband and I have been married for nearly five years and as we enjoyed a great meal and time with relatives this Thanksgiving, it dawned on me that 2021 is the first time we have been able to enjoy 12 consecutive months under the same roof together. All the holidays and anniversaries and going to bed together at night- this is the first full year. While I’m so grateful that we’ve had this year, of course, it reminded me of the countless women who don’t get to enjoy this season the same way. A dear friend of mine is currently holding down her job, home, and children without help because her husband was sent out right before the holidays,- she’s kind of amazing and makes it all look so easy, even though I know, intuitively, that it’s not. But duty calls, right? And when it does, our loved ones must go. So, I’m writing today for all the military spouses whose heart strings are stretched across their state, across these United States, and even across the ocean to their other half. The following are just a few habits that I adopt whenever my husband is away to boost my morale so that I can be the best version of myself through the long separations and in every season.
What would you usually do for the holidays? Would you go see family and friends? My suggestion: Go ahead and do it without your spouse. I know, I know- it doesn’t feel like the holidays. It’s not the same without your spouse but sitting around by yourself is no way to spend your holidays. Before I started my businesses, I worked with kids who struggle with mental health disorders. Around this time of year, we were always reminded that anxiety and depression can be at their worst- for our patients and for ourselves. The same goes for you, reader. If you and your spouse are stationed at a distance from family and friends, then you too can experience, loneliness, anxieties, and depression. And first, can I just say- that’s normal. But we don’t want you feeling like that… down and out… not now, not ever, if it can be avoided. So, go where you want to go- be where your people are. If your budget will allow for it, don’t sit around wallowing, the loneliness WILL get worse – go home and spend some time with your family. If funds are a concern and you’re outside of driving range, here’s my secret for finding SUPER CHEAP flights. The last time my husband deployed, I flew from Georgia to Texas to see an old college friend for less than $50, roundtrip. Hope this helps.
Find something to ink your focus into. Are you a worrier?... No? Just me? 😅 The first time my husband left me to go overseas we had been married about 7 months. I was lucky to have made a few friends to hang with in the area whose spouses were going on the same rotation-, so that was good during the day. I’m naturally a bit of a night owl, but I found myself awake at all hours of the night with so many worries- worst-case scenario stuff. *Yikes* So, I had to dig into my arsenal of coping skills. As we get older, get married and so on, there are always activities we look back on and remember with fondness that just somehow got placed on the back burner. Lack of time or money or both got in the way, so you gave it up they say it’s a part of growing up… Well, today I’m here to encourage you to reconnect with whatever that thing was- hobbies, art, music, crafts, knitting, cooking, etc. Whatever it is for you, pick it back up. Reintroduce yourself to it and nurture it. What’s cool is that you’re free to be creative in this time. And if you don’t know what you want to do, other women have been in your shoes and they've created solutions to help you get through this successfully! Like Abigail Nickell, a Navy spouse who created Goddess Provisions - a monthly product box for self-care, stress relief, and spirituality. And there’s Becky Hoy, fellow Army wife, and creator of Brave Crate – a monthly program created specifically with deployments in mind. Brave Crate is especially great if you enjoy a challenge now and then! No matter what you choose to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy.
Alright, admittedly this is my husband’s advice. And it is great advice, but I already know what you’re thinking- “I’ve gotta sleep sometime… I work, so we can’t talk often… He’s frequently unable to call.” So, I’m tweaking what he said just slightly, if you can, answer when he calls. Like many service members, my husband can be seemingly very stoic or unmoved, and I think that quality sometimes makes us forget that service members have feelings too. My hubster recounts some of the regrettable times when he was stationed in a combat zone (before we met), and finally got a chance to phone home to family, but nobody picked up. Every time that happened, his morale took a hit. Let’s be honest, talking to each other is good for your marriage and it will help you stay connected. For us, anytime we spoke, we tried to make sure it was a video call whenever possible. We ate our meals together on video calls- he ate breakfast and I had dinner, we blessed our food, and talked about our day, and we vented about whatever needed venting. Little stuff like that made all the day-to-day stressors and frustrations seem small. Even if you’re like I was back then- very much not a talk-on-the-phone-person, or if he’s able to call all the time, pick up the phone anyway and let him talk. Don’t take the calls for granted just because they’re not restricted. Remember, your spouse is somewhere out there in the world missing you too.
Learn a new language or study cooking how-to’s, or take a course in a subject matter that interests you, like creative writing or painting. I personally have an affinity for learning languages, which stems back to passing notes with friends in middle school. But it’s also great because you can teach yourself, learn at your own pace, and if you ever had to take a language class in school, then you know the process – ABCs, 1-2-3’s, vocab, verb conjugations, create sentences, etc. Then all ya gotta do is find someone to practice with- Facebook groups are great for that kind of thing! I’ve recently been brushing up on my French in preparation for a trip that we’ll be taking in the new year and I am loving the Duolingo app for learning languages. If languages aren’t your thing- no worries, go to Groupon type in your city and search “class.” There’s always a cooking class or gardening or something new and inexpensive to learn. If it’s a college course in which you want to enroll, but maybe aren’t necessarily looking for a certification nor ant to bother with all the MYCAA stuff, there’s a little-known AER spousal scholarship type in your city, and search “class.” There’s always a cooking class or gardening or something new and inexpensive to learn. If it’s a college course in which you want to enroll, but maybe aren’t necessarily looking for a certification nor ant to bother with all the MYCAA stuff, there’s a little-known
If this is your first time being apart from your spouse for an extended period, let me just say that it does get easier.
You don’t need another elaborate lecture on exercise science and endorphins. Maintaining an exercise routine a few times a week will keep endorphins flowing and make it just slightly difficult for you to become depressed. Moreover, tiring out your muscles can help you sleep better at night. A regular sleep schedule will keep you sharp and in a positive frame of mind. Take it from this night-owl, you always feel better after a good night of sleep. In referring to sleep hygiene- it just means, having a routine for bedtime. A bedtime routine is a worrywart’s best friend! Whenever my husband is away, for whatever reason, rest can sometimes become evasive; so, I have a few things that I add to my regular sleep hygiene routine. In addition to the usual teeth brushing and nighttime skincare, I drink a cup of n* By Nutrilite™ Take A Sec Tea; which helps my mind and my body relax. I also eat a couple of n* By Nutrilite™ Sweet Dreams Gummies so that once I fall asleep, I stay asleep. The final addition is in my nighttime skincare system. After applying my moisturizer, I use a few drops of Artistry Studio™ Zen Daze Ahead CBD facial oil all over my face, which nourishes and protects my skin, and helps bring on the ZZZs with the soothing scent of lavender.
Of course, there are times to tighten the budget and times to splurge. Oftentimes, with a deployed spouse, household funds can be stretched thin. Sometimes you’re literally supporting two separate households- separate cell phone bills, Wi-Fi for his barracks, and, on and on. Navigating finances can certainly be difficult, especially for newlyweds. Regardless, find a place in the monthly budget to do something for yourself, no matter how small. Maybe you want to take better care of your skin, but full-size products can be super pricey, getting on a subscription box-like Youth Amplified! can be your treat; maybe you find that you’re often stressed and need to relax, hop on Groupon, and find a deal for an affordable massage; get a mani/Pedi; try that new restaurant in town. Pick something each month and treat yourself. Do not feel guilty honey, you earned it!
Whenever possible, grab a friend and invite them over for dinner. There’s something about sharing a meal and some laughter with a friend that warms your heart and your home. I read somewhere a long time ago that this is the reason for the tradition of housewarming parties- bad energy supposedly cannot exist in a home after it had been ‘warmed’ by love and cheer from friends and family. I don’t know how accurate it is, but I can attest to the fact that creating positive memories in your space is important on hard days when you’re really missing your favorite person.
One of the things I lived to regret when my husband was gone was that I stopped going to church. I grew up attending church as a family and when I was single and living away from my family, I would attend church alone with the understanding that I was my only family in the area at the time. However, when my husband was gone, I felt strange going to “our church” without him and so I fell out of feeling like it was “my” church home because I associated it with being “our” church home. Don’t do that- stay connected. Don’t get me wrong – I continued in my faith. I met a group of ladies from the Jehovah’s witnesses who happened to knock on my door one day. That encounter turned into a weekly bible study, and I enjoyed that fellowship time with them very much- they became such great friends to me. But my husband and I are not of that particular denomination. So, while it was nice to have some fellowship and spend time in the word, it couldn’t take the place of the feeling I get from having a church home to go to.
Changing habits and routines can feel a bit like a whirlwind at first, but they can later become a lifeline to sanity. If this is your first time being apart from your spouse for an extended period, let me just say that it does get easier. No matter where you are or where you end up, making a few adjustments to your routines can sometimes make all the difference. If you take nothing away from this post,- just remember to get up and go somewhere! Happy Holidays!