Hey guys! I hope your week is getting off to a great start. So it has been a minute since I’ve done a military life post. But with the holidays in full swing, I know how hard this time of year can be for so many. Because of that, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share some advice and encouragement for those dealing with long distance during the holidays. This is one of the areas I get asked about most when talking to other military spouses, but I feel like these tips can be helpful for pretty much anyone dealing with long distance this time of year.
What Long Distance Looks Like For a Military Wife
Dealing with long distance is one of those things that is inevitable for a military wife or girlfriend. And eventually, that means during the holidays. Whether it’s training, deployments, TDYs, or whatever else might pop up, it’s rarely easy and it’s never fun. If you’ve been through it, you know the worst kind of long distance is a deployment. And like I’ve said before it’s an entirely different kind of independent. Things break, communication is sometimes impossible, and the worry that comes with deployments overseas can be overwhelming.
That’s where I was the first time I had to deal with it. I know, you’re probably thinking “wow that’s depressing” haha but I don’t want to sugar coat it. I wish someone would have told me these things ahead of time. HOWEVER, the good news is it gets much easier! So don’t give up on me yet! Keep reading for my tips on dealing with long distance during the holidays.
Dealing With Long Distance During the Holidays
I just want you to know, first of all, that if I can do it, so can you. Before I met Kevin, I’d never experienced long distance in a relationship so I was the definition of a newbie. I was a wreck the first month of our longest deployment back in 2018, and that’s totally ok. But after that month, I started to realize I could actually do this. I learned a lot about myself and how strong I am when I need to be. Personally, I think that is one of the things that makes this lifestyle so worth it.
Deployments are their own beast, so they get their own subheading haha. So far we’ve been through two and a half deployments and I finally feel like I might be starting to get the hang of this thing. Fortunately, Kevin and I haven’t had to experience a deployment during the Christmas holiday, but it’s bound to happen. We have had to deal with missing birthdays and anniversaries, and sometimes that can be just as hard. But because of what I’ve learned from past deployments, I know I can handle whatever comes next. Below I’ll share the things that I did (and learned not to do) to help get me through:
- DO take time for yourself. The first couple of weeks are the hardest. If you work, and he leaves during the week, I highly recommend taking a day or two off. Let yourself cry and be sad. It was super helpful to get all those emotions out instead of bottling them up and powering through work.
- DO surround yourself with friends and family. This is HUGE during the holidays. If you can go home to your family, make it happen. I even recommend going a couple of weeks before the holiday so that you have time to enjoy it. Time with my family was so important to me, especially once I quit my job. Not only was it a distraction, but it allowed me to have some much needed fun and to be filled back up with love and support.
- DO spend time with other military spouses. There is nothing like being able to talk about it with someone who knows exactly how you feel. You’ll realize you aren’t alone and the feelings you have that you might think are irrational actually very normal.
- DO send him as many care packages as possible. He will LOVE this, plus they’re so fun to put together! This is a really big deal during the holidays. He is going to have a hard time being away too, so make it easier on him by sending him his favorite Christmas treats and little reminders of home.
- DO read all the books. Devotionals and just for fun books. These will help you escape and also give you some encouragement while he’s gone. Not to mention, they make the time pass. Check out this post on some of the books that helped get me through the anxiety.
- DO binge watch the crap out of some Netflix, nobody is going to judge you. On the bright side, you’ll have all kinds of time to watch those cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies he doesn’t enjoy.
- DO keep doing the things you always do during the holidays. You don’t have to miss out on Christmas time fun because he is gone. Call up your girlfriends for a Christmas movie night and go to all the parties. Doing normal holiday things is the best way to stay sane.
- DON’T expect to hear from him everyday. Phone service and WiFi are usually hard for them to come by, so don’t get upset if you don’t talk every single day. Trust me, he’s trying.
- DON’T watch the news every second of the day or you’ll be a nervous wreck. I made it a point to turn off my news notifications on my phone while he was gone and only watched local news, usually for the weather. Plus, this will surely kill your holiday joy in a hurry.
- DON’T sit around waiting for him to call. Clean the house, get your Christmas shopping done, do what you have to do. Or you will go crazy.
- DON’T talk to him on the phone everyday. This seems silly, but it’s really one of the best pieces of advice I can give. If he is somewhere where you can talk often, I don’t recommend it unless there is legitimately something to talk about. You WILL get into a fight if there’s nothing better to talk about and that’s not fun for anybody.
- DON’T be afraid to reach out for help if you need it. Whether it’s for things around the house, questions about taxes, or just to have someone to talk to, the military community is so wiling to help with anything you need.
- DON’T forget to plan for his homecoming. Just because he isn’t there during the holidays, doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to celebrate them when he gets back. Spend time planning a fun Christmas celebration for him when he gets home. It’s a great way to give yourself something to look forward to!
Temporary Duties and Training
While these aren’t fun, they aren’t quite as bad as deployments. We are going through one of these right now, and it definitely stinks that we’re missing out on fun Christmas festivities. But it could be worse. I still recommend most of the tips above. Spend time with friends, family, and other military spouses. Stay busy with work and things that you truly enjoy. Something that I tell a lot of girls that come to me is to write their significant other a letter everyday OR keep a journal. If you’re engaged or expect to be, it will make a great wedding gift, it will help you feel close to him while he’s gone, and it can help him understand how you’re feeling. This can also make for a really special Christmas gift for him.
Every time we come to the end of a deployment I look back, and while the days themselves felt long, the months seemed short. That probably doesn’t make much sense to you if you haven’t been through it yet, but it will one day. Another thing I always tell myself during times of long distance is if we can get through this, we can handle anything life throws at us.
If you’re struggling with long distance during the holidays this year or if a deployment is in your future, I hope this helps you, if nothing else, to know you aren’t alone! I’d love to hear from you via email or over on Instagram if you ever need to talk!