40 Day Deployment Dare – Halfway Mark

Hi all, I realize the blog has been really quiet.  Sorry about that, lots going on here.  Today I am recovery from wrenching my back last night.  Whoa people it was serious.  As I was laying on the floor in the playroom I said, “well, okay I have two choices.  I can lay here forever or I can seriously bite the bullet (or the inside of my mouth as it were).”  I got up, with tears, found some ice and meds and made it to bed.  The movie Austenland (I’ll talk about that later) kept me pre-occupied until my back sort of calmed down. Today it isn’t too bad.  I’ve been alternating ice and heat so hopefully it will continue to get better.  Did I also mention I had strep throat?!  Yeeeepppp, thanks murphy!

If you’ve been reading my posts about this (you can find them here, and here) you know that part of the reason I wanted to talk about this on the blog is become communication during separation is probably the number one topic that military spouses (especially newer ones) want to talk about.  And its not just the spouses – the girlfriend, boyfriends and fiance’s definitely want to talk about it as well.  It is a very difficult side effect of the military life; and it doesn’t matter whether or not you’ve been together a month, a year or fifteen years (as is our case).  What I’ve found to be universally true (with few exception) is that the sadness of the separation and the stress of the person who has left and the one at home, is the true cause of the negative communication.  Many times I don’t deal with my actual sadness about him being gone becuase I feel like I have to buck up and deal.  I choose to be in a relationship with someone who is in the Air Force.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t be sad.  And for reals peeps, dealing with three kids alone isn’t a walk in the park!  This is especially true when you don’t have family close.  It costs us an arm and a leg to be near our families.

All of that being said, doing this with an open mind and heart helped me deal with all of those feelings.  Doing this at the front end of a separation is the key I believe.  And trying out this little dare with or without your partner or for whatever length you are parted is great.  It doesn’t matter whether they are gone a weekend, two weeks or for a lengthy deployment.

Halfway through the dare (or 27 days as it were) you will see a huge effect on your relationship during the separation.  There have been some hard questions, both asked of yourself and your partner.  Some serious looking at yourself and identifying key issues for both of you.  So not only does this challenge you to have loving conversations and take note of your negativity, but it also grows and strengthens your relationship no matter what stage it is at.

Day 27: During Deployment “Love Encourages” was a fantastic day.  Here’s one of my favorite paragraphs of the day:

What is it that you want married life to be? Do you want to feel secure, free to be yourself even if/when you fail? Your spouse wants that, too. The bottom line is that it is a choice to live by encouragement rather than by expectations. Towards your spouse you are to be encouraging—pouring in to them words and actions which allow them the freedom to be themselves, feeling loved. Towards yourself you are to take responsibility for your own words and actions in order to improve yourself, rather than demanding more from others.

Isn’t that amazing? Your marriage is only what you make of it, and if you are saying to yourself, “this isn’t what I thought it was going to be,” start by looking at yourself first and then proceed from there.  That initially acknowledgement will go along way with your spouse and for your own personally healing.  There is one particular issue within our marriage, that has been an issue from very early on.  What it is isn’t important, but it is something that I firmly belived would drive a real and permanent wedge between us.  It was bad.  It occassionaly has reared its ugly head and for various reasons it hasn’t been handled ever the way that I had hoped it would be.  First of all, I didn’t handle it.  I wanted to put it all on him.  He’s Mr. Air Force for crying out loud, my husband, shield and protector.  In my eyes he wasn’t doing any of those things.  But my anger was just as much a contributer to the situation between he and I.  Accepting responsibility for my role is crucial.  And while it has had an effect, I can choose to let it be the master of my marriage or I can let God be the master. I’m human, and I realize that I have many shortcomings.  Despite all my best intentions I know that this issue will still be there and will cause problems. But I have to rise above and choose a different path, not only for me, but for us.

Have you ever done the love dare?  Have you tried the deployment version?  I want to hear about it.  And if you have questions or want to talk I’m here for that too!
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40 Day Deployment Dare – Week 1

It’s been a week since I started this 40 Day Deployment Dare.  Mostly I wanted to do this because I knew it would be such valuable information to not only military spouses, but anyone that spends time away from their spouse.  You can do this “Love Dare” at any time, for any type of separation or without one at all.  That’s what I love about it.  I also wanted to include some ideas on how to mold this dare to fit your needs, say if your spouse is at boot camp or MOS/Tech School.

Perhaps one of the hardest days of the first week was Day 5.  First of all I’m doing this on the down-low, mostly for me.  I wanted to have a change of heart from the normal times my husband is gone.  I wanted to start on the right foot and try not to fall into old patterns.  So day five was to ask your spouse three things that bothers or “irritates” them.  I was nervous about what he’d say and how I would receive it, with humility hopefully.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, 
by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. – James 3:13
I was so happy that when the text finally came with his answers that I received it as I did.  It was God working for sure.  Normally I would be plagued with worry, sadness, and consumed by self-imposed guilt.  That or pushing something on him that he does that angers me.  But nothing!!!  And I didn’t come back at him with anything.  That is what I love about doing this dare one-sided, even though that is not how it isn’t intended to be.  I received a special blessing after.  He followed that up with three things that I do well and that he loves about me.  How awesome is that?
I have never felt better about being away from my man, happier in my relationship and proud of myself (If I’m being totally honest).  I’m excited for where the next week will take me, and us for that matter.  And on a funnier note, it is clear that hubby doesn’t regularly read my blog huh?!  He’s not a social technology kinda guy – and THAT is one of things that I love about him.
Now, tips for the week for Boot Camp/MOS/TECH school separations.  These types of separations are commonly plagued by irregular communication, and very little of it when you do get it.  So how do you do the days when you can’t talk every day?  Take the time time to write a small paragraph ( a mini daily diary entry as it were) about each of the days, and mail it out once a week.  I would suggest doing the dare as I am, on the down-low.  When they are gone and in training like that it is typically a high-stress environment and thinking about you in the context of the dare might be near impossible.  Setting them up to fail doesn’t help anyone.  And like me, I think it will tremendously help you on your journey through this time as well.  I remember it clearly even after 12 years.  It was hard, but I think having this would have been so wonderful for me.   So here”s a break down of ideas for the first week’s dares:
day 1: maybe the first time you speak to them after they leave (or the next time you are able to have a phone conversation) – be positive and loving and try not to say anything negative at all.  If you are writing about something that day, try not to include anything negative.  This would be a good dare to carry on with you through the entire separation.  It will only cause you undo stress because they are typically not capable of handling anything.
day 2: today you specifically compliment your spouse.  Tell them how proud you are of them, recount a story in your letter of something wonderful they did and how you love them for it.
day 3: today is the buy something special for them day, but I would suggest including a picture of you or you and them.  make it a small one….a wallet size would be ideal.  
day 4: make this day all about them.  don’t talk about what you did today.  since you can’t ask them directly (and if you do get a phone call make this day that day wherever it falls in the line-up) talk about how you hope they doing well, that you wish you could be there for them more or help them in some way.  talk about things you might do to help him when he gets home; or things you love to do to help him when he is.
day 5: this will be hard, especially for those in boot camp.  this isn’t the time or place to really ask them to come up with three things that you do that bothers them, and it really really isn’t the time to tell them anything about them.  I would suggest using this day as personal reflection about things you could work on in your relationship.  Pick three things about yourself.  Maybe you can recall some arguments you may have had and look at your part in it.  In your letter today think about three things that are really wonderful about them and tell them.
day 6: is also a day of reflection.  for me I really confronted my feelings of sadness and anxiety about the fact that he is gone and how that comes out in every other emotion but the ones I’m actually feeling.  It’s okay to be sad!  Let yourself feel those emotions.  Tell them how much you miss them and say even though you sometimes have days that your struggle you are trying to be brave and strong for them.  you don’t necessarily want to pretend its all sunshine and rainbows.  Find loving and sensitive ways to tell your s/o your feelings without causing them to be worried or stressed.
Day 7: today’s dare requires you write down things you love about your partner as well as negative things.  Today is day 7 for me, and I also read that I’m to save these lists as they are used further down the road.  It’s important to be honest in relationships, with your partner and with yourself.  This dare when done together would also mean your partner is writing positive and negative things about you as well.  It’s some food for thought at least.

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Deployment Dare: Patience is a Virtue

Separations and deployments are difficult, and for those of us that frequently endure such things it becomes difficult to figure out how to deal with each one.  Life is forever changing, and my kids are always growing and entering new stages of life.  This, alone, has been the one factor that has most affected how I deal with the separations that come my way.  It is no longer about me and my emotions. I can’t simply waste the time simply reading and watching movies, going out with girlfriends or shopping.  No, life has to for the most part continue on as normal.  We must rise early in the morning, get ready for school, clean the house, cook, do laundry and change diapers.  We must move forward and no time can really be spent wallowing away.

So, we must we must…..I’ve read the Love Dare before but apparently there is a military/deployment version.  It’s a 40 Day dare and I’m excited to talk about each day with you all, sharing stories from my twelve years as a military s/o and 15 years with the man I now call hubby, or Mr. Air Force.

Day 1: Patience
This is perhaps one of the most difficult aspects of a separation.  Patience is a virtue, but whoa is it perhaps the most difficult one.  There are so many emotions that occur during those first days, and patience isn’t the thing at the top of my list. When dealing with my emotions it is often my most deep and darkest one that I don’t display: Sadness.  I miss him terribly when he’s gone. Those ridiculous bumper stickers that talk about how half your heart is gone.  It’s true. Half my heart is gone, therefore mimicking a broken one.  Have you ever stopped to think about that?  It’s true isn’t it.  In its most basic, and broken down explanation, a missing piece of a heart is basically a broken one.  So let those real feelings come out, in a positive way.  Talk about how much you love your missing half, tell them you love them.  Don’t let those feelings of sadness come out in anger, which I know so often does with me.  Truth be told I have been all set to have an “honest” conversation about something, but I fooled myself into thinking because it was an honest conversation that I was somehow doing something right.  Maybe being honest about this thing would be a good idea in theory, but, in the midst of a separation stop and think, is it really the best thing to do?  Is it perhaps an attempt to hurt them as they have hurt you, by leaving?
Check out Day 1 of the 40 Day Deployment Dare

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