Honest Struggles and Tips to Help Combat Those Lonely Feelings
Whether you’re in a new military relationship or a seasoned spouse- something I wish I had been prepared for in this military life was the phases of intense feelings of loneliness as a military spouse. I never thought to ask: What are some of the struggles of being a military wife? Is being a lonely military spouse a real concern for me?
Attending a dinner, and you are the only one without a date
Celebrating my sons one year birthday without his father
Seeing couples walk hand in hand
Spending holidays alone
An empty seat at the dinner table- for months at a time
Wearing my husbands t-shirts so I can feel closer to him
Being miles away from family and friends
There are thousands more memories of lonley military spouse feelings when I wish my husband were here. Even just to participate in the mundane activities of daily life. When things were going right and wrong. Honestly, I was unprepared for the loneliness of signing up as a military spouse.
Military life is full of swings, with high-ups and deep lows. Sometimes the loneliness can creep in when you least expect it. I have been with my husband since 2015, and I still experience loneliness as a military spouse.
Here are some of the struggles and helpful tips to help combat the loneliness that accompanies being a military spouse
Struggles a lonely military spouse may experience
Family and friends can’t relate
I was first introduced to military life when I started dating my husband. At the time, I had no idea what entailed in the life of a military spouse. A few months into our dating, he deployed. I can still remember the day he left, and the feelings I shared, watching him pack his things and say goodbye.
Once he was gone, my family couldn’t relate. They didn’t share my same struggles, fears, and concerns. It was isolating.
He was away, and the rest of the world kept going. Everyone continued their lives as usual- while I had to accept and navigate my new normal. As the deployment window lengthened, it felt like everybody was moving on, and I had been forgotten. As a military girlfriend, I was in this limbo phase of not belonging, which lasted until we married.
I have amazing civilian friends, and a supportive family. As much as they were there for me- there still was this internal struggle. To this day, I still can’t put this feeling into words.
TDY’s & Deployment
One of the most considerable hardships of military life is the days and months of separation. I think these are the phases where the feelings of the unhappy military wife may easily creep in. Deployments are HARD, so very hard!! Deployments are often one of the main challenges facing military families.
They are hard for a thousand different reasons. A whirlwind of emotions is constantly erupting over these long and exhausting months- and loneliness is often one of the more recurring emotions I have experienced. In fact, I have so much to say about deployments that I will save it for a different post, so stay tuned!
TDY means temporary duty, which is (in my experience) much shorter durations, and often is some type of training. I didn’t have the same anxiety or stress that came with the deployments, but they were still periods away and can be quite lonely for a military spouse.
PCS stands for Permanent Change of Station
One of the benefits and challenges of military life is moving. Moving anywhere from stateside to OCONUS (Outside the Continental United States) can be quite an adventure! Moving away from family and friends can be pretty lonely. Starting over can be daunting. The change can be challenging, especally when you move miles away from your support system. This can absolutely contribute to lonliness in the military life.
- Related post: Coping tips for moving away from family and friends
If you just received orders for an OCONUS move, check out my post on: How to get started on preparing for your OCONUS PCS
Coping tips for when the lonely military spouse feelings hit
1. Intentional communication with your significant other
The pre-deployment anxiety is real. It’s the big elephant in the room. Make a plan of how you want to communicate with each other. Have an open discussion. Does one person prefer a specific type of communication? This is the time to figure out what works best for the two of you or at least open up the dialogue to the expectations. Make a plan, and stay connected.
2. Ready your support network
Gather your support network. Are you planning on going home while your spouse or significant other is deployed? Many chose to do this. If you can make it work, that could help combat the loneliness and be an extra support especially if you are solo parenting. Reach out to your family, friends, and co-workers. Let them know of the upcoming situation. If possible, put a few dates on the calendar of meet-ups. I encourage you to start this process before your significant other leaving. Having scheduled meet-up dates can give you something to look forward to. Maybe you can even plan a mom getaway, even for just a couple hours.
3. Reach out to family and friends
Ask for help
Sometimes, asking for help is one of the hardest things to do. It is one of my struggles. Reach out to your family and loved ones. Especially reach out to the other military spouses. Many of them understand exactly what you’re going through. This is especially important if you have kids. I can’t advocate this enough. Murphy’s law is real during deployments; it’s the deployment curse. Cars will break down, the house will fall apart- things will go wrong.
Remember to reach out to friends when they are in the lonely phase!
When your significant other is home, remember those friends who have their loved ones gone. Be there for them. Offer to help with the kids. Reach out and check-in. It’s a fair assumption that they could be having their own struggles.
4. Embrace the change of moving away
Think of this PCS as a new chapter, a reason to start fresh. Of course, you will miss your friends and family, but consider this an opportunity to meet some fantastic people! Initially the feelings of lonliness may be stronger, but as you adjust and make friends, it should lessen with time.
- Related post: How to make friends living abroad
5. Prioritize your health and sleep
Be sure you are taking care of yourself. This is incredibly challenging when you are solo parenting. Honestly, I haven’t quite figured it out myself, so I’m open to any suggestions!
Taking care of yourself is more important for your physical and mental well-being. Make sure you are prioritizing your health. Keep up with your daily routine– this is especially important if you have young kids.
6. Keep up with self-care
I can’t express the importance and necessity of self-care enough. These times of loneliness can put you in a deep funk. Getting out, going for a walk, meeting with some friends, or even calling someone up to cry can all be expressions of self-care. I try to keep an open window for self-care during my morning routine.
For solo-parenting mamas, check out my post: How to incorporate self-care into your daily routine.
7. Pick up a hobby
If you have some extra free time, staying busy always helps. Now is a great time to dabble in some hobbies. See what you like! Maybe it will allow you the opportunity to make some friends! Have you recently moved abroad, and your spouse is now away? A hobby can be a great way to get tied into the community!
If you are a busy momma, I do recommend a hobby! The idea of juggling one more thing can be overwhelming. I remember working and solo parenting my one-year-old with no family. I wish I had considered incorporating something for myself during these six months. I desperately needed it. I wish I would have considered blogging earlier.
A hobby allows you to express yourself, be creative, help with any boredom, destress, and, as I mentioned earlier- an avenue to make some friends!
- Related post: How to have hobbies as a stay-at-home mom
I haven’t volunteered as much as I would have liked, but I loved volunteering for local running and triathlon races when we were stationed at Fort Benning in Columbus, Ga. This gave me a social outlet, and encouraging others was a great exercise for my mental health. It would easily occupy a weekend morning and allow me to hang out with friends afterward. It was another way to stay connected to my community. Look for volunteering opportunities in your area; find something you’re passionate about!
9. Continue your education
Have you considered furthering your education? Maybe looking into a career that can hold up with the military lifestyle? Honestly, having a career and being married into the military is incredibly challenging. Furthering your education will broaden your scope of practice and allow you to pursue more job opportunities. Taking courses while your significant other is away can keep you mentally preoccupied, allowing time to pass faster.
10. Take it one day at a time
Take it one day at a time. Looking at the calendar and counting the dates until homecoming can be overwhelming. Baby steps can be helpful. Sometimes the mental load can be enough to put one in a funk. I easily get overwhelmed, especially while solo parenting. I found myself struggling more with patience and the sensation of drowning every time I counted down the days.
11. Send a care package
One of my favorite things to do when my husband is deployed is sending care packages. I feel closer to him when I send him some of his favorites. It is very likely your significant other is also experiencing loneliness and feeling homesick. Sending them a little bit of love can be therapeutic. When we first started dating, I would write him “open when” letters, and I even had a letter to open daily. This was before we had our son, when I had more free time!
Embrace the growth that can arise from those lonely military spouse feelings
The ability to be alone
It is hard being a military wife. The lonely military spouse feelings are real. Ultimately, it is a life I would never take back. Even if others can’t see the growth, hold on to it! Military life is full of adventure and experiences. It gives you an entirely different perspective on quality time together. Military life comes with many challenges, but the pride in supporting your loved ones and our Country is extra special. Your support for your soldier, is crucial to their success. It is a life filled with adventure, and one to be proud of!
I would love to hear from you! Have you experienced loneliness as a military spouse? What has helped you?