Full confession: I had totally planned to share this post on Military Spouse Appreciation Day, but things didn’t go as planned. Of course, when you think about it, when does anything go as planned when the military is involved? Why should a post about supporting military spouses be any different?
In my brief time as a Navy wife, I’ve been overwhelmed by the power of the military spouse community. This group of men and women keep things together while their loved one is deployed or stationed elsewhere or training. They plan moves, school changes and keep track of a million different details, sometimes completely alone. They’re single parents for months at a time, students, entrepreneurs and hands down the strongest group of people I’ve ever met.
Military spouses rock and they deserve all the love, appreciation and support they can get, all year long!
1o Ways to Support a Military Spouse
Say thank you and tell them that they rock.
Tell them you appreciate all the sacrifices they’re making for the country. Tell them how much you admire their wife or husband. Tell them thank you for everything their family has done for complete strangers. Tell them they’re awesome for being such a butt kicking, deployment rocking, family raising rockstar.
Make them a meal.
Raise your hand if cooking for one less person is waaay harder than you ever thought it could be. I struggle so hard with cooking for just one person when A is gone and so I often skip it all together. Throw kids into the mix and forget about it! I can only imagine how appreciative a military spouse would be to have dinner delivered to the front door, fully put together.
Plan a fun outing.
I don’t think it’s any secret that staying busy helps the months pass more quickly, but honestly, planning activities (especially when they involve a group of people) is often beyond me when A is deployed. Between work, handling all of the house and adult stuff, not sleeping well and being worried, I don’t generally have a lot of energy left over for what I consider extras. Planning those fun activities often falls into the extra category, so I know I would really appreciate it if someone planned something for me and all I had to do was show up!
Send encouraging snail mail.
During A’s last deployment, some of my best friends sent me mail throughout the 6 months he was gone. I got cards, boxes full of sunshine and little surprises here and there. It was such a day brightener for me and made me feel so loved!
Be there to listen.
Deployments are a crazy mess of emotions: fear, worry, anxiety, sadness, loneliness…the list goes on and on. Having someone to vent those emotions to would be so hugely helpful! It may be something not everyone is comfortable doing at first, or even at all, but knowing that someone is there for them should they want or need to talk is a huge relief.
Lend a helping hand.
Cut their grass. Babysit their kids so they can go to Target alone. Take their car for an oil change. The list of ways to be helpful is almost endless. The key is to not ask and just do it. I always turn down help until I get to the point of a complete meltdown because I don’t want to look weak. If someone just came in and helped me, I would save myself a lot of heartache and stress.
Being a military spouse is an experience unlike anything else, even before you add the deployment beast to it. We operate under a different set of rules, use a different schedule and sometimes have a completely different set of relationship stressors. Explaining that to a non-military spouse can be difficult and very emotional, so on behalf of us all, I ask that you be understanding of a military spouse and cut us a little slack every once in a while. Maybe we’re short with you because we just said goodbye to our spouse for 6 months and have just managed to stop crying. Or maybe we cancel plans because he’s home from a long training a day earlier than we had anticipated.
Don’t ask too many questions.
This may sound a little counterintuitive based on some of my other suggestions, but it’s a totally valid way to support a military spouse. Here’s the thing: a lot of times we either can’t talk about certain aspects of the military life or just don’t have all the information. Constantly asking what my husband is doing on this deployment or when he’s coming home can put me in a very awkward position.
When A is gone, I lose a HUGE support system and source of encouragement in my daily life. It’s at that point that I lean more heavily on others. Having friends and family tell me that I’m going to rock deployment or can totally handle that half marathon helps fill that void a little bit. Heck, even telling me how well I’m handling things is a huge boost for me.
Celebrate big occasions with them.
I’ve been really lucky so far that A’s deployments have missed big holidays, but I know that at some point he’ll be gone for a holiday or anniversary that means a lot to me. When that happens, I so hope that friends and family will help make that occasion special. That could mean inviting me over for a holiday dinner or taking me out for my birthday. It could even mean handing me a tissue while I look at wedding photos, eat cake and ugly cry. Anything that keeps me from being alone is helping to make that big day feel more normal.
Alright, fellow military spouses, what would you add to my list? What’s the best way someone in your life has supported you?