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Thread: Support During Deployment

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    #1

    Support During Deployment

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    Hi friends, hope y'all are having a wonderful New Year so far.

    As some of y'all know, DB is currently deployed. This is his first deployment and my first time experiencing deployment.

    How do you emotionally support your SO during deployment? Things were okay for him for a while, but lately if I ask him how he's doing, he says he can't talk about it. I know he can't tell me what's going on over there, but it's hard to see him clearly emotionally struggling with no outlet. Even today I told him I wish I could be there better for him, and his response was, "No you don't." He's probably right, and I didn't mean to come off insensitive, just supportive, but just because I didn't mean to come off a certain way doesn't mean that it didn't impact him.

    Anyway, I'm just trying to figure out where to go from here. I know I can't fix the problem, I'm not his therapist, and I'm not responsible for him. Feeling emotionally responsible for others is actually something I've been working on in counseling this semester. But he's my boyfriend and I obviously care about him and want to support him. I trust that he'll come to me if he needs anything, but I don't see him reaching out to anyone over there if he needs to talk or anything. I don't even know who he could talk to besides the chaplain, but he's not religious and I also don't see him going to a spiritual advisor for a non-spiritual issue.

    So I guess my question is, what have y'all done if you've been in this situation in the past? Should I just do regular check ins and ask how he's doing, let him respond, and then tell him about my day as usual? It feels like a lot of the issue is with me, and for what it's worth, I'm continuing counseling next semester. I was just wondering if anybody had any stories/experiences/advice to share.
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    So I am kind of muddling through my first deployment over here so I am no expert by any means...but so far we just talk like normal as much as possible...like your man DB can't tell me too much about what is going on, but when he has a rough day I listen while he vents about what he can discuss. I don't really ever have much input because I don't know how things work over there, I really can't fix any of it or offer up suggestions, but I can listen. I find I say a lot of, "that sounds stressful" or "that must be difficult"...

    Of course we always tell each other we love each other and just have normal conversations like we would if he was here...it's really nice to just laugh together on Skype over silly little nothing things...it makes it feel like normal. Even though it's not normal. I get really blue sometimes with him so far away and while I try to be honest with him about everything going on I don't tell him if I'm down (mostly because I know it will pass and there will be nothing he can do and it will just make him feel bad and I know he's already feeling like it's forever til he comes home and he's really missing home)

    I do like to send care packages and I like to think up something sweet (but that he won't have to bring home because space is pretty non-existent) to kind of cheer him up over there...whether it's food or a picture or something funny or a game he can play etc
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    Quote Originally Posted by AMP1984 View Post
    So I am kind of muddling through my first deployment over here so I am no expert by any means...but so far we just talk like normal as much as possible...like your man DB can't tell me too much about what is going on, but when he has a rough day I listen while he vents about what he can discuss. I don't really ever have much input because I don't know how things work over there, I really can't fix any of it or offer up suggestions, but I can listen. I find I say a lot of, "that sounds stressful" or "that must be difficult"...

    Of course we always tell each other we love each other and just have normal conversations like we would if he was here...it's really nice to just laugh together on Skype over silly little nothing things...it makes it feel like normal. Even though it's not normal. I get really blue sometimes with him so far away and while I try to be honest with him about everything going on I don't tell him if I'm down (mostly because I know it will pass and there will be nothing he can do and it will just make him feel bad and I know he's already feeling like it's forever til he comes home and he's really missing home)

    I do like to send care packages and I like to think up something sweet (but that he won't have to bring home because space is pretty non-existent) to kind of cheer him up over there...whether it's food or a picture or something funny or a game he can play etc
    Those are actually really good responses! Phrases like "that sounds stressful" and "that must be difficult" are validating, show active listening, and also give him an opportunity to say, "Actually, it feels more like X" if you're reading it wrong. I remember learning that in RA training and have tried to apply it everywhere in my life. But DB doesn't even really vent about what he can discuss unless it's super petty shit he's dealing with, like baby wiping the floor when they don't have a mop, which I think is why I'm like HALP WHAT DO I DO NOW.

    I don't tell him when I'm down either. I don't want to stress him out while he's already under so much pressure. There have been exceptions... like today I was in a car accident and everyone involved was okay, but my car was not so like... I told him about it, because I was really obviously shaken up when he called me. Normal stress/anxiety/sadness I get, I don't tell him about.

    Ugh I love doing care packages! The last one I sent him cheered him up a lot. I can't send him mail for a while though, which sucks. Especially because his next care package is going to be bomb af and much needed haha.
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    We very rarely talk about my husband’s various wars, by his choice. The best I’ve ever gotten out of him on the subject are fragments here and there, and even that is usually funny or absurd rather than serious - the scorpion fighting ring in Afghanistan, children in Timor basically convincing themselves he was magical, the whole saga of trying to figure out how to make Iraqi chai (which is like rocket fuel, and he lives off it still!).

    In a lot of ways, I think he wants “home” to be a separate sanctuary.

    Even so, I’ve told him that if he ever wants to tell me something, he can. He doesn’t have to, and I don’t expect his entire personality to shift so he’s an open book, but he always can. Whenever he’s ready. If he can’t, we talk about other things.

    He doesn’t have to be religious to see the chaplain, incidentally. Mine isn’t. Pastoral care doesn’t and shouldn’t have denominational strings attached.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matchbox View Post
    We very rarely talk about my husband’s various wars, by his choice. The best I’ve ever gotten out of him on the subject are fragments here and there, and even that is usually funny or absurd rather than serious - the scorpion fighting ring in Afghanistan, children in Timor basically convincing themselves he was magical, the whole saga of trying to figure out how to make Iraqi chai (which is like rocket fuel, and he lives off it still!).

    In a lot of ways, I think he wants “home” to be a separate sanctuary.

    Even so, I’ve told him that if he ever wants to tell me something, he can. He doesn’t have to, and I don’t expect his entire personality to shift so he’s an open book, but he always can. Whenever he’s ready. If he can’t, we talk about other things.

    He doesn’t have to be religious to see the chaplain, incidentally. Mine isn’t. Pastoral care doesn’t and shouldn’t have denominational strings attached.
    Oh yeah I'd never ask him about the war itself and wouldn't want to talk about it with him unless he wanted to. I just want to make sure he's okay and not just saying he's fine so I don't worry. I'm not going to pry anything out of him, if he wants to tell me, "I'm feeling X feeling but I can't tell you why" that's one thing, but if he doesn't want to share at all I'm not going to press. It's just a balance between wanting to encourage him to open up to someone about how he's feeling (not necessarily me) so he doesn't bottle it up, not wanting to ask him what's going on outright, and wanting to keep things normal. We have plenty of other things to talk about especially since I start classes again next week, I just put way too much emotional energy into these kinds of things lol.

    Yeah, I go to my priest sometimes when I want to talk to someone even though I'm not religious. Maybe if some of his buddies are already doing that, he'll feel like he can.
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    Quote Originally Posted by _andimcosette View Post
    Those are actually really good responses! Phrases like "that sounds stressful" and "that must be difficult" are validating, show active listening, and also give him an opportunity to say, "Actually, it feels more like X" if you're reading it wrong. I remember learning that in RA training and have tried to apply it everywhere in my life. But DB doesn't even really vent about what he can discuss unless it's super petty shit he's dealing with, like baby wiping the floor when they don't have a mop, which I think is why I'm like HALP WHAT DO I DO NOW.

    I don't tell him when I'm down either. I don't want to stress him out while he's already under so much pressure. There have been exceptions... like today I was in a car accident and everyone involved was okay, but my car was not so like... I told him about it, because I was really obviously shaken up when he called me. Normal stress/anxiety/sadness I get, I don't tell him about.

    Ugh I love doing care packages! The last one I sent him cheered him up a lot. I can't send him mail for a while though, which sucks. Especially because his next care package is going to be bomb af and much needed haha.
    I think you need to be very careful about this kind of thing. Creating emotional distance can be extremely damaging to a relationship over time. You want to know when your SO is struggling, right? And any decent partner is going to feel the same. Sure, when he's in the middle of a crisis, that's not the time to unload a teary tirad about the terrible color of your pedicure. TO me, much better advice than, "don't talk about when you are down" is, "talk solutions". DOn't just say you are struggling. Tell him that you are struggling but you have a plan to spend the weekend with your dearest friend so you feel positive about that really helping you, for example.

    I think Matchbox's advice is great. Tell him that you are fine whether he wants to talk, or he doesn't, and that either is okay. You want to support him and you know that can mean either listening when he needs an ear, or allowing him to escape for a while.

    And yes, chaplains are different than typical clergy. It's not like going to e regular priest, rabbi, etc. with a non-religious issue.
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    Quote Originally Posted by villanelle View Post
    I think you need to be very careful about this kind of thing. Creating emotional distance can be extremely damaging to a relationship over time. You want to know when your SO is struggling, right? And any decent partner is going to feel the same. Sure, when he's in the middle of a crisis, that's not the time to unload a teary tirad about the terrible color of your pedicure. TO me, much better advice than, "don't talk about when you are down" is, "talk solutions". DOn't just say you are struggling. Tell him that you are struggling but you have a plan to spend the weekend with your dearest friend so you feel positive about that really helping you, for example.

    I think Matchbox's advice is great. Tell him that you are fine whether he wants to talk, or he doesn't, and that either is okay. You want to support him and you know that can mean either listening when he needs an ear, or allowing him to escape for a while.

    And yes, chaplains are different than typical clergy. It's not like going to e regular priest, rabbi, etc. with a non-religious issue.
    I really like "talk solutions," because I agree that just keeping things from him is a hard line to toe. Part of it for me is my anxiety, so I freak out about a lot of things that don't warrant freaking out. Those are the things I tend to keep to myself (versus big things like final exams or the accident), but he knows I see a therapist for it, so telling him how my sessions are going could be a solution! You're right, you want to know when your SO is struggling. I know he'd be upset if he knew I was keeping my feelings (however pointless of a problem it might seem to me) from him. But I like "talk solutions," especially for every day stressors, because I'm being honest about my feelings while showing that I have a handle on it.

    Okay, it's definitely good to know that about chaplains/hear it from a couple different people. I'm still pretty new to this so I don't know what resources are available to him or how they work.

    Thank you all for the amazing advice! Y'all are why I love coming here with this kind of stuff.
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    options

    In my case, we make a point of recognizing the difference between "what is going on over there" and "how are you?" Due to the nature of his job, I never know the answer to the first question even when he is back home working, so deployment doesn't change that. The "are you ok?" part I can usually here in his voice.
    Here is something you might try.
    Ask some generic questions, if it doesn't irritate him - like "are you getting enough sleep?" or "how is the food?" or "how far do you have to walk to eat?" or "what would you like in your next care package?" Those types of questions give him the option of discussing what is on his mind but don't force it.
    When my DH doesn't want to talk about any part of his day, he replies to such questions with one word answers and then asks about my day. If he is in the mood to complain about the sandstorm or bad toilet paper, he wil discuss that instead.
    Hope that helps.
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    #9
    Gwen22574*said:01-07-2018*01:37 PM

    Hello, my name is Gwen from CT and my fiance is in the Air Force. I am so proud of him. I am a first time deployment, spouse to be. I didn't know how hard it would be for him to be away. I know its his job and duty, but his 4 month mission was just extended for 2 more months. Has this happened to anyone else? How do you get past the disappointment of the delay?

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