Recently, I received an email that went something like this:
Dear Jo, my fiance will be deployed for the holiday season. I don’t know how to cope. Can you help me?
I wish I could say that’s the only email like that I’ve received in five years of this blog… but it’s not. Every holiday season, I get messages from military spouses and significant others who are struggling with deployment or separation–no matter what that separation looks like– who just want to know how they can put one foot in front of the other during one of the busiest and most emotional times of the year.
There’s missing your spouse or significant other. There’s wishing they were there for making memories. There’s the anger and resentment that they’re not there to help you. There’s the frustration of messed up communications or times to be able to say hello. There’s the added pressure of care packages and figuring out how to do the holiday alone.
It’s just a lot.
And then add just regular life stuff and it can often feel overwhelming and joyless in a season that’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.
So I reached out to some spouses– from all walks of life and who are all at different stages in their military life— and asked them for their best advice for military couples during the holidays. Here’s how they said they cope (and how you can too):
Don’t be alone if you don’t want to be alone.
“If you’re not okay with spending the holidays alone and can’t go home/have your family come, don’t be afraid to reach out to other spouses, even in other squadrons/units! Many open up their homes or will take you out with them if they do the restaurant thing for dinner.” -Jade
“Do not be afraid to accept those invitations to dinner/holiday celebrations! They aren’t just inviting you to be nice.” -Jessica
Support and splurge.
“I would suggest leaning big time on your support system and maybe splurge on something for yourself or the kids! It doesn’t matter what I say or anyone else, it won’t truly make up for our spouses not being with us BUT we can all handle this.” -Jessica
“Buy table wine, it’s a better deal and Cabernet is always good for the soul! Pirate’s Booty is also a great deployment Netflix binging snack!” -Michelle
Have a friends-Christmas
“Finding friends to spend the holidays with if you can’t be with family makes a big difference! It’s not the same, but its nice to be able to enjoy other people’s joy instead of sitting at home crying. I made that mistake the first Christmas and regretted it so much!”-Caity
Be kind to yourself.
“Realize it’s different for everyone, no one deals the same way.” -Sarah
“Remain strong. It’s just temporary.” -Katie
“I plan on visiting a couple friends houses and then head to my brothers for dinner. It is difficult on the actual holiday, when most businesses are closed and people might already have plans, to try and find something fun to do. But with a little work it’s possible!” -Kristen