By Kristen Houghton
Military Spouses: How to Cope
In 2007 there are more families being affected by having spouses in the military than ever before. With the war in Iraq going on its fourth year, men and women in the military are leaving husbands, wives, and children behind. These families live life as best they can but it isn’t easy for any one of them.
The majority of spouses in the military are still men, and women have traditionally been the ones left at home to cope financially and emotionally. But, today, there are also husbands whose lives are dramatically affected when their wives are deployed overseas.
Knowing someone you love is in a war zone, in danger of being maimed or killed, takes its toll emotionally and mentally. An older neighbor whose husband had been in Vietnam once told me,
“While reading one of his letters I would fear that maybe he had died after sending it. It was all I could do to hold it together.”
Today we have e-mail and phone conversations but the fear is the same. The difficulty is in coping with the fear and getting through everyday life.
So how do we get through one of the most difficulties times a spouse can face?
Once of the best things you can do for yourself is create and follow a set routine. If you have children, this is the best thing for them. Going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, setting specific times for meals, gives structure to your life.
Plan activities that will get you out of the house and into the world.
Go to the movies, have dinner out at an inexpensive place.
Visit family and friends.
Join a gym or local sports team for exercise. Physical activity helps keep you mentally fit too.
Form a support group of military spouses and families. Talk, vent your fears, let your emotions go if you have to. Everyone is in the same situation and there is strength in numbers. Plan family dinners together.
Seek personal counseling if you need it. You are under an enormous amount of stress and sometimes a person emotionally removed from the situation can offer practical advice.
If you are working, take it easy on yourself. Do your job but remember to take time for yourself with short breaks.
When your spouse does come home, keep your normal routine, but remain flexible for him or her. Remember that they need to spend time with you and adjust to being home again.
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