The type of communication you have with your service member today will serve as the building blocks for the communication you practice while your service member is deployed and when he returns.
"I communicate with my spouse before he departs on what we both expect during deployment relating to our children, our home and our command. While I am not thrilled he has to leave us once again, I never run from a deployment—I prepare myself and our children."
- Navy spouse
1. Hash Things Out Now
This is a good time to sit down together and discuss what each of you expects of -- and hopes for -- the deployment. A good communication plan will help align expectations and lessen miscommunications during the deployment.
"I try to make sure things are in order just as the Army does. I have discussions with my husband about how we both envision the deployment going, and how we plan on communicating and keeping connected."
- Army spouse
2. Discuss how you would like each other to behave while you're apart.
For example, is your service member comfortable with you going out to dance with your friends? If yes, how often? If no, why not? In turn, perhaps you would like your service member to commit to communicating as regularly as possible (and, in what form? Phone calls? Email? Written letters? Facebook messages?). Do you want your service member to call you the moment he is in port or on a break or would you understand if he waited until later?
3. Determine how much your service member wants to know about what's going on back home.
Some service members don't want to hear about the frustrations of daily life because there is nothing they can do to fix things. Others want to know about the little details they're missing because it helps them feel close to their loved ones. Either choice is okay but it has to be a choice made together.
4. Decide on the type and frequency of communication your service member would like you to have with his family and friends. You will also want to come to an understanding of what an "emergency" is for both of you. Decide now how much you want to know about what is happening to the other while you're apart, and when it would be essential to inform the other person of an event or incident.
5. Exchange ideas about how you'll spend (or save) extra money. Since your service member may earn extra money from being deployed to a combat zone, you’ll want to have a plan on what to do with it. Likewise, who will be responsible for handling the money, doing the taxes, and paying the bills?
6. Nothing is off the table at this point.
If there's something in your relationship that needs to be discussed, now's the time to talk it out. It's much easier to address these issues when you're still together as opposed to trying to detail them out once your service member is away. A sensitive, yet vital, discussion point is the decision you make on how you'd like to be notified in the event of a serious injury or death of your service member. Commands deal with this delicate topic differently, so it is important to discuss with your service member so that you can both be prepared.
"Of course I am always afraid of losing my sailor. You have to arm yourself before deployment. Sit down with each other and come up with a plan if the worst happens. Make sure you have everything in line, like power of attorney and wills. Make sure you have a support line of family and friends that would be willing to step in and help if the worst happened. You have to plan for the worst and pray for the best."
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