How Can I Help When He's Depressed on Deployment?

Ms. Vicki
Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I are halfway through our first deployment. It's approximately an eight-month cruise.

My husband is very unhappy with his job. I think we still love each other, but all of the sudden I don't feel like I want him to come home. I think I am just dreading having such a negative influence in the house with me because I am very sensitive to the feelings of others around me.

I generally derive a lot of happiness by making the people around me happy but with him it feels like nothing can make him happy. I am very anxious and it’s still another four months away. Can you give me any advice on how to cope?

I know I need to accept him and not expect him to feel a certain way, but I am dreading having to deal with that every day and unsure about the future.

I am fairly independent and try to keep a positive outlook despite whatever circumstances occur. I just don't know who to talk to about this. I live and work on base and feel like talking to someone affiliated with the base or another spouse is just a little too close to home. My family cares, but they can't really understand.


Anxiously Waiting

Dear Anxious,

I totally understand. During deployments, we can get into our own rhythms, adjust to our own schedules and establish new roles, etc.

In many ways, we become more independent and learn to listen to ourselves more. When your husband complains, you feel helpless and don’t know what to do or what to say. As a result, it brings you down in the dumps.

Yes, you will be glad when he is home from deployment, but you won’t be ready for any negativity. I think you should let your husband know how you feel. Tell him you want to be there to support him but when he complains you don’t know what to do.

He has to realize it’s his career and he must become assertive and empowered enough to change the situation as much as he can because there is nothing you will be able to do about his job or working conditions. It’s not your role to change his work environment.

However, you can be supportive and be a part of his cheering crowd. Ask your husband to get a sheet of paper and on one side make a list of things he would like to see change. On the other side, he should list what he can do to change each situation. Most importantly, beside each he should give the date or time for him to start changing the situation. This will let you know if he is serious and motivated about change or simply moping around about his problems.

On the other hand, he could be tired of the deployment and ready to come home. As a result, everything and everyone is getting on his last nerve. This is normal too.

I’m glad that you have a positive outlook on your situation. Continue to take care of yourself. Thank you for reading the column and for taking the time to write to me.

Ms. Vicki

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