During deployments, life can be hard. Not only is the spouse worried about his/her partner but the spouse also must take care of all of the household responsibilities. These responsibilities include paying bills, meal preparation, running errands, looking after children, perhaps getting a full-time job. That doesn’t even include any crisis that may come along. When my husband was deployed, it was always tires and batteries. I learned the hard way how to deal with flat tires and dead car batteries. It’s not easy being a married single parent. Isolation may occur and loneliness sets in.
However, there are many things a spouse can do during those deployment seasons to help ease the burden of loneliness, isolation and crisis intervention. Getting involved in the community can turn focus from self to service. There are many organizations that could use a helping hand and some you can serve alongside with your children. Consider a local senior center, battered women’s shelter or Habitat for Humanity. If you are working full-time you may complain that you don’t have time for anything like that. If that’s the case, in my opinion, it is then critical that you attend your house of worship.
Most churches (or temples) have groups for men, women and children. While you are attending a scripture study, your children will be entertained in a group of their age. Having a group of like-minded people to pray for you can ease the burden of loneliness and prevent isolation.
Additionally, I recommend taking on a project that makes your life better and surprises your spouse when he/she returns - something like painting the kitchen, remodeling the bathroom or cleaning out the garage. Check out one of those home improvement shows or websites for ideas on how to spruce up a room without paint if you live on base or are renting. Styling the master bedroom with paint, window treatments, and a new bedspread is not expensive but can really brighten the mood in the room. Better yet, invite friends over for a painting party, order pizza and soda, and have fun. Laughter and friendship are key components in fighting loneliness and isolation.
What you should not do is focus on your loneliness, drink excessive amounts of alcohol, go out to bars, or complain constantly. Negativity can set in and be as destructive as a wrecking ball. Your mind should be thinking positive thoughts. Thinking about a happy, healthy and productive future will help take the sadness out of you. Focus on the pride you have for your spouse who is serving our country. Remember that it’s okay to have a bad day but it’s not okay to stay there. Give yourself a break because you are not a super hero, cry if you need to, eat a whole box of Oreos but get up the next day and move on with positivity.
Finally, in my opinion, the most important thing to do is to take care of yourself. Eat your veggies, exercise regularly, write a gratitude journal and feed your spiritual side. Take an inventory of your own life and see what you would like to improve the most. If it’s weight loss then set a goal, create a plan and go after it! If it’s a promotion at work, going to college, or finding a house of worship, then make a game plan and do it. Set a date, create the how-to, and then make sure to surround yourself with positive activities whether they are physical or mental. Staying healthy for yourself will be better for your children and your spouse when he/she get home. Allowing yourself to spiral downhill in loneliness and isolation will only make you bitter and angry. Prevent this by being your own advocate.
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