Being a military spouse grants you a complimentary membership in a particular club where you are often alone while your partner in life is absent for an extended period. Your spouse might be away attending a school or training, have been selected for a home or abroad mission, or is away for another military-related reason. Shifting all responsibilities onto one person and the extended months of loneliness can cause anxiety and depression even in the strongest of characters. Emotions run high, resources are stretched, and couples are tested. For Military Spouse Appreciation Day, I wanted to share some tips and ideas how you can support a military spouse in your life.
How to Support a Military Spouse
Providing company. Military life can be lonely when your spouse is away. Invite your friend to join you for a stroll in the park, out to dinner, an event, or just to hang out. Remember her on holidays and try to include her in your family’s celebrations. Likewise, kids will struggle to adjust to this time with only one parent. Play dates, good role models, and support from their friends is vital, so they don’t feel left out or abandoned.
Bring a meal or care package. Cooking for one quickly turns into frozen dinners. Bringing over a fresh family-friendly meal is such a wonderful gift, especially at the beginning of a deployment or extended school. Care packages are incredible! Even some nice toiletries or some tea or coffee can help encourage the military spouse and show your support.
Helping with the kids so she gets a break. I’m sure she would love some child care but don’t just say “if you need me to help watch the kids let me know.” She isn’t likely to ask, so offer something specific. Invite the kids over for a play date so she has some time to herself to get a haircut or go to the spa. Or gift her some babysitting.
Assist with household duties or provide a handyman. Your military spouse likely has her hands full enough, and all the household tasks can get daunting. Can you volunteer yourself or your spouse to help with any repairs that pop up, or lawn care, for example? Our nanny watches another child in our home, and we have that Dad help out with the light bulb and A/C filter replacements – anything that requires ladders. That has been a huge help to me.
Ask her how she is doing, and really listen. We, military spouses, tend to put on a tough outer shell, but that doesn’t mean we’re always keeping it together on the inside. Talk to your friend and let her vent her frustrations. Tell her what a good job she is doing. But please, please, don’t say anything like “I know how you feel, my husband travels for work a lot.”
Military life can sometimes be difficult for civilians to relate to, and know how to be supportive. Still, just knowing that you have friends and a tribe to back you up when you need it is enough to keep spirits high and a positive outlook.
Is there a military spouse in your life? How do you support a military spouse?