FEBRUARY 9, 2018 – Any Military Spouse can tell you that during deployments, every day comes with challenges. Some are more concrete, like bearing the brunt of household duties, childcare and financial responsibilities on your own. Yet others are more emotional, such as the struggle that comes with being separated from your spouse and support system for an extended period of time. Holidays, which are meant to be a time for celebration, can often intensify negative emotions when you are apart from a loved one.
However, there are still many ways to celebrate as a Military Family and share your appreciation for your serving spouse if they are away this Valentine’s Day. Here are a few suggestions:
- Make the day about family – Rather than just letting the day pass as if there’s nothing to celebrate when a family member is deployed, consider doing something fun as a family. It does not have to be big, perhaps just a trip to the movies or a visit to a favorite restaurant.
- Schedule a time to talk – Be sure to plan ahead and schedule a phone or Skype date with your loved one who is away. If you already have a weekly chat scheduled, make use of the holiday as an excuse to talk with them more than once in the same week! Even if they aren’t available on Valentine’s Day, you can take a raincheck and catch up on what’s been going on and celebrate the day.
- Plan something special for when they return – It’s always good to have something to look forward to. If you can’t spend Valentine’s Day with your spouse, you can start saving up to plan a special trip or romantic night for when they return and present the idea to them on Valentine’s Day.
- Send a care package – You likely already send items to your deployed spouse frequently, but Valentine’s Day can be a good excuse to send over some extra special treats. You could document your family making a batch of their favorite homemade snack and send it over with some pictures of the family preparing it. In today’s digital world, a sweet handwritten letter can also be a nice surprise. If you have children, consider having them write their own letters or include something they’d like to share with their parent that is unique to them (e.g., a recent school project or craft they’re proud of).
- Get together with others in the same boat – If you are a member of a local Military Spouse community, you may want to be with others who are going through the same challenges as you during a holiday. Consider having a party or get-together with other MilSpouses to share stories and chat about how you feel with your loved one away. It is always helpful to have a support system who understands your situation.
Long-distance relationships during deployment can be hard on couples and families. However, it’s important to remind a servicemember of what is waiting for them at home, not just on holidays but every day. Finding a special way to celebrate and continue traditions can help all members of the family feel close on Valentine’s Day.
Erin Hadden is a contributor for SpouseLink, a free website that supports Military Spouses across the U.S. SpouseLink is sponsored by the American Armed Forces Mutual Aid Association (AAFMAA), the nation’s longest-standing military financial services not-for-profit organization.