Why being separated from my husband is good for our marriage.

Whether it’s for 1 week or 12 months, it takes a certain person to handle a separation from their spouse due to work obligations or military deployments. For me, it’s the best thing for our marriage.

[As a reminder, my husband is a sailor in the United States Submarine Force, one of the most secret and protective forces in the military (IMO), and that means that essentially with little notice he could be deployed. This means also, during a natural disaster, he goes with the boat and protects the country’s investment, leaving his family to fend for themselves….pretty daunting, huh?]

In the long run, it takes a very independent person to manage this type of uncertainty and separation, making all the times he leaves a great lesson in handling the inevitable. I am a strong person, and with our son in the mix now, it’s more important than ever to give me the confidence that “YES, I can do this!”. His recent 2 week trip this past month was a true lesson for me in managing my time. To say it bluntly, I am a time manager – my calendar is meticulously planned a week in advance, allowing for variations and emergencies of course, as children always change. My son and I were so busy, I didn’t have time to miss my husband, or be sad that he was gone – this is a HUGE difference than a few years ago when he deployed unexpectedly….

So, how do I do it? People say to “keep busy” but what does that really mean? It means different things to different people and with this current “separation” I find it’s more difficult than in the past as my son really throws me for a loop at times.

Here are a few things I like to do during these times of seperation:

1. Home Improvement

The first weekend my husband was gone, I finished spackling and painting our living room wall, refinished a TV tray table, migrated my kitchen herb and veggie garden to a window unit, and moved around my son’s playroom. Finding the time to do this was easy when I was motivated to stay busy while keeping my son entertained. I recently discovered the White Walls blog and Facebook group that have provided some really great ideas on what the heck to do with those plain military housing units to make them feel like home. Ironically enough, my Pintrest boards are filling up around this time too!

TIP: Choose one or two projects to complete, and this way you won’t completely change your service members surroundings when they get home. (Tweet this!)

2. Business Ventures

For me, being a mom AND an entrepreneur is incredibly important. I’ve wanted to have a career that was portable and manageable with this transient lifestyle, even before my son was born. Luck for me, I love to write and have been fortunate enough to build a career doing just that (want some irony?)! In addition to skills I’ve picked up along the way, I’ve developed a very functional and rewarding career working from my kitchen table, spare office or “coffice” at the local Panera or Starbucks. Want to learn more about virtual and flexible jobs? I can definitely help guide you through what I did and how to find a rewarding career in your field! You may be surprised by the types of jobs that are available in a flexible and virtual schedule!

TIP: There is a growing need for flexible, virtual and experienced professionals. Search for these type of keywords when looking for a position. (Tweet this!)

3. Volunteering

Because I can NEVER have enough to do, and my passion for helping people expands beyond the ability to get paid to do it, I enjoy volunteering with communities I am passionate about. The most prevalent community is with military families. As one, I know how invaluable resources can be, and there are SO many!  I have been our family ombudsman, mentor for COMPASS, and most recently, a volunteer for the Military Spouse Business Association. With MSBA, I am working to develop a “Mastermind Group” program where fellow military spouses and veterans come together for support, guidance and to offer their experiences to each other, as we all make it through the various challenges as a business owner and in the military lifestyle. It’s incredibly rewarding to volunteer your time, but don’t make the mistake I have in the past and over commit. It’s easy to do!

TIP: Identify the audience you are most likely going to enjoy spending time with for at least one year. Most non-profits will request that kind of commitment in volunteers, so it’s a good baseline to guide your commitment levels. (Tweet this!)

4. Mommy and Baby Day Trips:

When I look through my weekly schedule, one of the most important aspects of the calendar is to enjoy my son. You can read all about how I tend to ignore my son for some time, but I also spend quality, free and uninterrupted time with him. Day trips are one of the best ways I like to do this. We live in the Northeast at the moment, so within driving distance we have Providence, RI, Hartford, CT and New Haven, CT. Not your “busy metropolis”, but with fun and local events, activities and eateries, we try to take off at least once a week. It gives me a change of scenery, as well as for my son, and we get to travel; this is one of my favorite reasons! We may or may not invite others to join, but my introverted self is fine either way.

TIP: Keep a back pack ready to go for those last-minute trips! When you wake up to a beautiful day and want to just jump in the car, you are half way there. (Tweet this!)

5. Day Care/School:

This can be an often debated situation where the stay at home mom takes her children to day care, but let’s think about it this way: our society, dare I say our human race, was developed on the concept of the “village mentality”. The idealistic situation of having your family take the baby for an afternoon while you grocery shop, or spending Friday evenings with your in-laws for dinner, is just that – idealistic – in a military community. We are often hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from our families. So, we work to develop our own “village” in friends who become family. While not perfect, these systems have worked for many-a-military family, and will continue to work for those folks. But, what if it doesn’t? If you are just not interested in that kind of friendships, or are not willing or able to trust people as quickly as this lifestyle tends to dictate? We have been incredibly fortunate to have found a day care facility we trust and my son loves! AND – they are able to accommodate an hourly schedule. This is important for me, as I work part-time, on my schedule, and occasionally need my son to be involved in something other than being home. It’s great for him to get interaction regularly with other children too, without me being involved and looking over him all the time. Again, this works for us, allows us both that independent “recharge” so we can enjoy our time together.

TIP: Find your best scheduling techniques to maximize your time without your child/children. Or, just see where the day takes you! (Tweet this!)

All of these I do with my husband home, and I find that I am productive, but when I have focused time that I need to ensure I don’t get lost in the “missing him” mentality, I seem to get A LOT more done! We’ve made it work for our lives, and it’s been 10 years in the making.

What kinds of things keep you busy when your service member or significant other is away? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @nwhite05.

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