The family is the primary lifeline that supports the means of our survival. For it to thrive, parents (ideally) have to provide for the children and be hands-on with their upbringing. However, the “mother, father, and children living together” situation is not always the case for everybody. For some, parents need to be away from their children and spouses to work. Such is the reality for military families.
Mark Banschick M.D., wrote, “Modern families come in many shapes and sizes. There are two-parent and single-parent families. Parents may be straight or gay, single by choice or parenting alone due to separation, divorce or widowhood.”
Struggles Of A Military Spouse
According to recent statistics, the majority of military spouses are females under 35 years of age. The father is often deployed in faraway countries to render service, leaving the mother in charge of the household. While staying married, military spouses feel as if they are single parents because the responsibility of running the house falls entirely on them.
“There are a lot of sacrifices that you should make,” a military wife says. This forbearance includes a change of attitude and lifestyle and putting on a tough face to make the marriage work and provide a healthy family environment for the children. Here are some finer points of what military spouses experience:
- Managing Fear And Worry
It’s inevitable to feel anxious from time to time because you know that your spouse is in a dangerous place. You are also well aware of your spouse’s commitment to protecting the country no matter what the cost; at any day, he or she may take a bullet for a comrade and a commanding officer.
It’s tough to live with this possibility every single day. But in time, you will get used to it and put your trust in the omniscient, omnipotent being that holds the universe together because there are things that you surely cannot control.
- Compromising Career
Moving is part of being in a military family. According to research, military families relocate ten times more than civilian families. For non-service spouses, maintaining a career with this setting is very difficult. You should accept that you have to put your job in the back burner and focus on your family for the time being.
- Making LDR Work
A lot of people say that a long-distance relationship does not work. But many military families are happily retired and have emerged successfully from being away for so long from their spouses. But actually, it is so much tougher than it looks.
“Long-distance marriages aren’t easy, and they’re not for the faint of heart. The biggest challenge couples face is obviously a lack of facetime, and often, one partner may have a harder time with this than the other,” Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT,
There will be days when you will crave your spouse’s embrace after a bad day. New Year’s midnight kiss and Christmas morning cuddles will be missed, sometimes for years at a time.
These men and women are commendable with their perseverant spirits to endure all of these. But it is equally a struggle for those service members living overseas.
Struggles Of A Deployed Military Personnel
According to studies almost 20% of service members assigned in the Middle East experience mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. Being away from your family is tough enough, and then you have to be in an unfamiliar country, stripped away from the basic comforts you enjoy at home.
All your life, you have been training to serve the country. Maybe as a kid, you have always dreamed of being a soldier. You take pride that your job is one of the noblest professions and have already accepted the sacrifices that come with it. However, military training cannot turn you into a heartless person. There will be days when you go through rough patches and long for your family’s presence.
Here are some of the experiences the military personnel go through after deployment:
- Missing The Special Days
Birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays usually pass by without your spouse and kids. It will get lonely, but you have to make the most of it. Typically, calls and emails are allowed during this time. But the tangible presence of your significant other and children other is undoubtedly missed. “The Soldier is preparing to go, so he is pulling back from the Family,” said Navy Capt. Daphne Brown, a clinical psychologist at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany. “He has to invest in the mission.” “But the spouse does it from a fear that something will happen,” she said.
- Battling Existential Crisis
Being in a war zone, you cannot help but think about when it is going to be your last day. However, more than thinking about yourself, you also worry about the people that you will leave behind. Although you know that your death will most likely be honorable, you are aware of how heartbroken your family is going to be when you are gone after being away from you for a long time.
- Missing Being A Parent
This one is probably the biggest regret of overseas military personnel. You will likely miss the firsts of your child, and maybe you will be recognized by your baby as “mommy” or “daddy” on the computer or phone screen where you talk a few times a month. As much as you want to be involved in the upbringing of your child, you can’t avoid feeling helpless because you are a thousand miles away.
Having said this much, families who are thriving in this situation are remarkable. Being away from loved ones will surely take a toll on our emotional well-being, but it takes a steadfast heart and mind to endure all of these.
On a final note, some organizations allow you to send support to military families by sending thank you letters to the deployed soldier. This appreciation will encourage them and help their emotional state. By this little act, we are also taking part in protecting the country by supporting our soldiers as they endure service without the comforts of their families.