SPOUSES AND PRE-DEPLOYMENT: ARE YOU READY?
Marsh, Maddie, Jane Pride, Amanda
Deployment is associated with a wide range of challenges for Service members and their families. Civilian military spouses must adjust their household routines, which means becoming the primary parent and maintaining finances, while also coping with the physical separation of their partner’s deployment. This article will discuss findings from research studies related to pre-deployment and suggest ways couples can prepare for deployment. According to a recent research study conducted by Richardson and colleagues (2020), deployment-related resources (e.g., support from family and friends and/or a mental health provider) were associated with greater mental health for Service members and spouses, as well as with greater spousal deployment readiness (i.e., a spouse’s ability to manage the demands of deployment). In addition, Collins and colleagues (2017) found that pre-deployment preparation (e.g., communication plan during deployment, power of attorney) and stronger, more established marital relationships were related to lower depressive symptoms before deployment. Consistent with previous research on this topic, adequate resources are necessary to improve spousal pre-deployment preparedness. Preparation in the months leading up to deployment can alleviate many stressors many military couples experience. Below are a few suggestions and resources for helping military spouses with their deployment preparation: ● Lean on family and friends when you need support. Finding support among family, friends, or community is a way to alleviate deployment stress. Your support system can offer you guidance and assistance completing daily tasks, such as childcare, running errands, and cooking. To help develop your support network within your community, connect with new friends through activities you enjoy, such as working out or attending religious services. If you are interested in finding other military spouses to relate to, consider joining your installation’s Family Readiness Group or learning about the Spouse Ambassador Network. ● Strengthen your relationship with your partner. While preparing for deployment, it is easy to get caught up in the to-dos and leave your relationship on the back burner. It is important that couples prioritize their relationship as much as possible. Couples can do this by engaging in quality communication throughout their relationship – even during deployment. ● Therapy or counseling. Large life changes such as deployment can bring about stress and uncertainty. Having someone to work through these feelings with you can reduce your stress and help you feel more at ease. Individual or couples counseling is a great way to prepare couples for the challenges of deployment. Military OneSource offers a multitude of resources to connect you with the support you need. Military spouses play a key role in helping their families navigate deployment. Do not let the challenges of deployment catch you by surprise: successful navigation of deployment requires preparing before deployment. The tips we provided can help equip you for deployment – and possibly alleviate some of the stress that comes along with it.