Month: February 2016

3 Ways Deployment Can Bring You Closer as a Couple

IMG_2286As military spouses, we’ve all been told at one point or another, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” by a well-meaning friend or family member. And, every time I hear that phrase I want to respond, “Hmm. Try it.”

Instead, with a polite smile and a deep breath, I usually mutter something along the lines of, “Yep. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right?”

My husband and I didn’t live in the same city until we’d been married six months. Of our 10 years together, nearly half have been spent apart. Long-distance relationships get such a bad reputation, but I’ve met so many great military couples who have made them work. Could it be possible that with back to back deployments, TDYs, training, individual assignments and more training, your relationship can flourish as if you were in the same zip code?

In her study “Absence Makes the Communication Grow Fonder: Geographic Separation, Interpersonal Media, and Intimacy in Dating Relationships,” researcher L. Crystal Jiang found just that.

“Indeed, our culture, emphasizes being together physically and frequent face-to-face contact for close relationships, but long-distance relationships clearly stand against all these values. People don’t have to be so pessimistic about long-distance romance,” said Jiang. “The long-distance couples try harder than geographically close couples in communicating affection and intimacy, and their efforts do pay back.”

Good to know; it’s definitely possible. But how can you make sure your time apart actually brings you closer together?

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Mile 13 in the Deployment Marathon

An installment in the New York Times’ Deployment Diary

The author's contribution to a Navy ship's slide show on what families look forward to when their loved ones get home.

The hardest part of the journey is the first step, right? Respectfully, I disagree; I think it’s the steps in the middle. We’ve just passed the halfway point in my Navy husband’s seven-month deployment (preceded by over a year of constant in-and-out travel for training, called “work-ups”), and instead of sprinting to a finish line, it feels like my 5-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son and I are crawling along a never-ending trail.

During my husband’s first deployment in 2009, I passed the time alone in Guam by training for the Marine Corps Marathon. The day before the race, I went for a “pre-run shakeout” with the running expert Bart Yasso and a group of participants in the Runner’s World Challenge I’d been training with online.

I asked one of the other women in the group, a seasoned marathoner, what the hardest part of the race was for her. Without hesitation she answered, “Unlucky mile 13.”

She broke down the race for me: “The first 10 miles are lined with people. You won’t even notice you’re running. Around mile 10, you start to get fatigued. At 12, the crowds thin out, the cheering dies down, and all of a sudden you’re aware of what mile you’re in. Mile 13, right when you’re halfway there, you’re going to realize how far you’ve come, and how much further you have to go. That’s when you have to dig deep.”

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5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

IMG_0028Winter has officially arrived at the “ugh” stage. It’s cold. It’s been cold for a long time now. Unless you live somewhere truly wonderful, it’s not going to get warm again for awhile yet.

Given the opportunity, I think most of us would like to cuddle up by a fire and wake up when it’s spring.

But you can beat the winter blues — I promise. As the temperatures and your motivation continues to stay at a truly depressing low, use these five tips for giving yourself the motivation you need.

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

1. Get moving.

You made the New Year’s resolution to actually use that gym membership you’ve been paying for; now is the perfect time to start. Already a regular gym goer? Sign up for a race or other challenge that will push you. Beyond the physical benefits of getting some exercise, multiple studies have been conducted to show the link between working out and mental health. According to a report from Harvard Medical School, researchers found that “walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week had a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms.”

2. Make (and keep) plans.

The easiest thing in wintertime is to want to pull the covers over your head and wait for the day to be over. However, it’s just a matter of time before the walls start to close in on you. Whether you agree to meet a friend for coffee, accept the invitation from your neighbor to go over for dinner or take the kids to the library, do something. Getting out of the house and being around others can help boost your mood.


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How to Beat the Groundhog Days of Deployment

(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Quintano via the Creative Commons license.)
(Photo courtesy of Flickr user Anthony Quintano via the Creative Commons license.)

It’s been 129 years since the people of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania first allowed a groundhog to predict the nation’s forecast for the arrival of spring. Every year on February 2, the town is flooded with people rooting for a marmot named Phil not to see his shadow. And every year, by the time February hits, the days all seem to run together. As a military spouse going through deployment, I often feel like Bill Murray’s character in the movie Groundhog Day. It’s easy to get in a rut when every day feels like the one before.

This year, find your groove by using these five tips to dig out of the deployment doldrums:

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