One of the hardest parts of living through a deployment is struggling to feel connected to your deployed service member while he’s so far away for so long.
I used to struggle feeling connected to my husband anytime he was away from home, but especially when he was across the world for a year at a time. Now that I know how to create connection, everything is different.
Imagine preparing for your husband’s next training or deployment and the issue of feeling connected while he is gone is not even a concern for you because you know exactly what you are going to do.
Let’s dive in by taking a look at the 3 main reasons why feeling connected when they’re away feel hard and the solution to each of those problems.
Connection Problem #1: It seems like being physically together is crucial to feeling connected. I can vividly remember thinking when my husband told me that he wanted to join the military “How can anything that makes us spend time apart be good for our marriage and our family?” I was so used to relying on being in each other’s physical presence to create that feeling of connection. I was used to things like: work together/play together, body language, date night, touch, sex, eye contact, shared experiences, give gifts, spend quality time together, service/sacrifice for one another. When this was my understanding of feeling connected to my husband, you can see why this can be a discouraging aspect.
Solution to problem #1: While we enjoying being physically together with our partner, it is not necessary to feel connected because connection exists in our mind. Whether they are home or away, the only reason we ever feel connected (or not connected) to our spouse is because of the way we are thinking about them. The root of feeling connected to your spouse comes from what you spend time thinking about your spouse, your relationship, and your level of connection. My favorite example to share is how I love to get flowers from my husband and when he’s away I have started buying myself flowers and spending time thinking how they were from him. The flowers make me so happy and I love thinking about them being from him. I’m not afraid to buy myself flowers. I love my husband. I love getting flowers from him. It’s a win win. Another way to prove that creating connection in your mind first works is think about other people who are important to you that you don’t get to see very much but you still feel very connected to them. Take it even one step further and think of people that are important to you and you care about like maybe a celebrity or political leader or someone from history that you’ve never met and will probably never meet. This can help your brain see that being in someone’s physical presence is not required to create tons of connection.
Connection Problem #2: It seems like talking is our only way to enhance our connection and talking during deployments can be challenging. Long distance communication is not ideal for the following reasons: One or both of us are often not in the mood to talk, Hard on him to know everything, Hard on him not to know everything, Hard for him to know when I’m struggling, Hard for me not to tell him when I’m struggling, He feels like my struggles are his fault because he’s gone, He feels like he’s letting his family down. Also, the conditions/methods of our communication are usually out of our control in the following ways: How frequently we get to speak, How long each session lasts, Time of day we get to speak (time zones), Quality of internet connection, His schedule and our schedule matching up, Kids in the mood to talk to dad, What apps are available to use and how effective they are (FaceTime, Marco Polo, etc.).
Solution to problem #2: Even though having our primary source of communication during a deployment be talking and talking is hard, this isn’t as big of a problem as it seems once we decide to believe that connection exists in our mind, the way we think about our spouse and how connected we are has way more impact than the quality of our verbal communication. No matter how frequently or infrequently we get to speak to our husband, the only reason we ever feel connected to our spouse is because of the way we are thinking about them. Really pay attention to how you’re deciding to think about things like how much he’s thinking about you and how much he’s missing you. You can never know those things even if he tells you he thinks about you and misses you. So just decide that he is thinking about you, that he is missing you, and spend time thinking those things. Spend time looking for communication treasures. Dig through old love notes, letters, emails, etc and compile them so that whenever you aren’t getting enough love through your every day verbal communication you can cash in on all that love.
Connection Problem #3: It seems like if he’s not interested in working on our connection as well, my efforts won’t mean much. If you’re husband is anything like mine, he’s usually not super enthused to work on stuff like this. For the most part he is more satisfied with our level of communication at all times than I am. When it’s more challenging like during deployments, he prefers to make the best of it and knows it will get better when he’s back. This is definitely more of a problem for me than it is for him.
Solution to problem #3: Because connection exists in our mind, whether they are working on this with you or not you can feel completely connected. Feeling connected is always available, even if we are the only one in our marriage actively working on feeling it. Start thinking about your spouse and creating love and connection with him in yourself like it’s your new favorite hobby by: wake up thinking about it, fall asleep thinking about it, look forward to working on it, spend time thinking about amazing memories, look forward to creating new memories
This blog post just scratches the surface on this topic. Want to watch a webinar that I did on this topic recently? Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duOvJco4CYY