Lizann Lightfoot is the writer behind The Seasoned Spouse and is guest posting today!
Many military spouses and significant others have written “Open When” letters for their service member before a deployment or a long-distance part of their relationship. An Open When letter is written for a specific moment or event, then sealed in an envelope to be opened at a particular time. The outside of the envelope may say, “Open When it’s your birthday,” or “Open When you’re really mad at me,” or “Open When you want a kiss.”
For years, military loved ones have prepared stacks of these letters, and lovingly tucked them into sea bags, deployment bags, or day packs. It’s a beautiful way to stay in touch and communicate when you are separated by great distances and lapses in technology. A service member can select the appropriate letter and instantly read a personalized message that brings them encouragement, comfort, or a laugh when they need it most.
But who writes Open When letters for the loved ones who remain behind? Who will give them the encouragement they need to get through a difficult day?
There are so many parts of military life that are frustrating. You know the feeling—those days when you miss a phone call during deployment, or when someone tells you that you “knew what you signed up for” when you married your service member, or when they won’t let you fill out paperwork because you are “just a dependent.” Every military loved one has faced these frustrating moments before, but we often shrug them off as just one of the many difficult things about military life. It’s hard for family and friends to understand the frustration of these seemingly simple moments.
And then there are the days that feel like they will break you, when you are just done with military life. Maybe it’s when you get orders to that horrible base in the middle of nowhere, or when your car dies for the 3rd time while your service member is away training. Sometimes, when your love is deployed and the news from that part of the world is really bleak, you can feel your anxiety getting out of control.
In those moments, military spouses and significant others need a little extra love and support. You don’t need to be judged, you don’t need someone to throw a list of resources in your face, and you certainly don’t need to be told to “put on your big girl panties and get over it.” In the challenging moments of military life, you need a friend who understands the bizarre challenges of this life and won’t stop you to ask, “what does PCS mean again?” You need a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic hug, or a sincere smile from someone else who has weathered that storm.
That sympathetic hug is exactly what you’ll find in my new book, “Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses.” Each short letter is written to encourage you through a specific moment of military life, from “Open When Your Lover Goes to Basic Training” to “Open When They are Preparing for Military Retirement.” Whether you are newly dating a service member or are a seasoned spouse with several moves and deployments under your belt, there is a letter in this book that will speak to you. Each letter feels like having a cup of coffee with a good friend! You can read them all at once, or save them for the moments you need the most support.
As a fellow military spouse, I’ve been through those moments—the hard ones, the frustrating ones, and the funny ones. There were times I thought military life might break me, and I didn’t always have a friend to turn to. Now that I have spent two decades with my Marine—including 7 deployments, 6 PCS moves, 5 kids, and 3 years overseas—I want to be that friendly encouraging voice to any military spouse who needs it. Although each letter is written directly to you, the reader, I begin each section of the book with personal stories of my most interesting milspouse moments. Some of the stories are sweet, others are scary, but all of them will inspire you during your military journey.
The book comes out September 21, 2021 from Elva Resa Publishing, and is now available for preorder as a paperback or an ebook wherever books are sold online. So the next time you need a little encouragement to get you through a challenging military life moment, open one of the letters in the book. We all have those days when we need a little support. Now you have a collection of thoughtful Open When letters written by a milspouse, for military loved ones, to open whenever you need encouragement.