Did you know deployments are stressful not just for military personnel, but for their families, too? Of course you did. Everyone knows that. But, unfortunately that doesn’t mean everyone knows the best way to talk to people whose spouses are deployed.
I am grinning as I type this PSA. I have heard everything on the top list more than once (I know these things are usually said with good intentions, and there is grace for all of it), and thanks to the precious people in our community, everything on the bottom, too.
My little tongue-and-cheek, parenthetical comments are meant to point out the obvious flaws in logic with a bit of humor. 😉
Goofy things people say women whose husbands are deployed:
1. Oh, does your husband have PTSD (because everyone in the military does. Or because, if he did, that would be a good getting-to-know-you conversation)?
2. Has your husband killed anyone (because that’s polite conversation)?
3. Your husband is away all the time? Sounds like every woman’s dream (because I am surely thrilled about my husband being in danger and not being able to speak to him. It’s a dream).
4. I know someone in the military, so you must have the exact same experiences as my acquaintance (yes, because the military is the same size as a small business and everyone’s experience is the same).
5. Let me tell you how we should be handling the Middle East differently (because that’s uplifting).
6. Let me tell you my opinions on terrorism (oh, so glad to have an expert in the room).
7. Oh, you must be so mad at President Obama/Bush (because only the president you dislike has any sway in the current state of affairs).
8. You must have so much free time (because not having a spouse at home means your professional, personal, and church commitments stop)!
9. Oh, he’ll stop leaving once you have children (because you know how only really selfish people serve the country with young children at home).
10. Here I am posting about your spouse being overseas on social media (because I want everyone to know that I’m living alone and there are no safety issues with this at all).
Supportive things to say instead:
1. Hey how are you?
2. Do you need anything?
3. I am praying for you and your husband.
4. Are you doing OK?
5. I’m here for you.
6. You’re strong.
7. Want to hang out?
8. I know how much you love your husband.
9. You can call me any time.
10. (Any other topic in the world since she has a life and interests, too).
I am thankful to be surrounded by people who say the bottom 10 things to me all the time when my husband is away! But did you know that a lot of military spouses move frequently and don’t have a strong day-to-day support system? You can bless a military wife by just taking a few minutes to say something on this list.
Or, you can take a few minutes to do more. In the past, I have received notes on my door, cards on holidays, and treats from a neighbor as encouragement.
Offer to hang out, or give grace if she needs space. Encourage her in her walk with the Lord by inviting her to your Bible study or sharing the good the Lord is doing in your life (note, this is very different than preaching “at” her, it’s walking “with” her).