So I got a little snarky about phrases that annoy spouses and significant others, but as a friend pointed out, it’s important to talk about how to support spouses, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc as they go through deployment or anything else the Army throws at them. And I had some other friends worry that they had upset me. Honestly you haven’t. I appreciate your questions and support, sometimes I get annoyed, like when I hear the same thing over and over again. This happened a lot as my husband was on his way home. Everyone was asking “is he home yet?” and as another friend said, “you will KNOW when he’s home.” We can’t post dates or times on social media and my call came a bit late, so I was frustrated too. Terrible combo. But I digress. A lot happens in military family lives, and I know you want to be there for us. So here are some tips to support your military significant others through it all:
- Be a friend. This sounds a bit simple, but I think the most successful thing is just be the friend that you already are. Let them vent, make them laugh, go out to drinks. Whatever it is that you normal do: just keep doing it!
- Listen and remember. I had a few friends that would just ask the same thing over and over again. The same person, the same question, a week later. And that’s when I get the most frustrated. I will admit that sometimes I don’t remember something the first time someone tells me, and personally I like answering questions people have about my life, just as I like to ask people about theirs, but when the same question comes up again and again, it seems like maybe you never commit that fact to memory. See number 1, be a good friend and remember those things. If you really can’t remember and you have to ask again, it’s okay, but try to remember after the second or third time.
- Ask what they need, and do it! I’d say this is more of a deployment or long training thing, but living on your own can be hard, so if you know your friend has no time to cook, see if they want to go out to dinner or come over, and give them some leftovers. Or maybe they just need to have a good talk, go get coffee or wine or beer or whatever and just chat. Sometimes a good laugh is all someone needs. Or a playdate/sleepover for their kid so they can have a night our with friends. But be warned: I know a lot of spouses/girlfriends/fiancees that may say “thanks” and never ask, so you may need to suggest it or read their mind, difficult at times, but it comes from this idea that we can do it all. When I got sick earlier this year (just a stomach bug thing) I did ask friends to bring food, meds my way, but it was often those moments where someone said “hey we’re doing this and you’re not saying no” that were often the most fun, or needed.
- Hire them. Ok I’ll admit this is something that a friend may not be in a position to do, but if you know someone looking to fill positions, suggest they look at the military spouses in the area and give them a chance. Military spouse unemployment rates are really high, so why not help them continue their career or make some more money for their family? I know I’m incredibly thankful to have been able to keep working.
- Do ask questions. I know I’m getting all hypocritical on myself since I posted things we don’t like to hear and I’m telling you to still ask questions. Here’s why: the more you understand about what your friend is going through, the more you can know what you can do to help. Knowledge is empowering, so learn! Don’t back away because something is scary, you may not know what to say to help, and you know what? Sometimes I didn’t know what I needed to hear either. Personally I will try to be as sensitive as I can to the questions I get over and over again, I really do try to be patient, but that’s all on me. But in all seriousness, don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Those are my tips, but overall I think it really comes down to #1 and being a good friend.
What are some ways that your friends and family have supported you? Any other tips on how to support military spouses through anything?