Sunday, May 1, 2016

College Life While Your Spouse is Deployed

 Your college years some of the most transformative years of your life. Experiencing your spouse's first deployment can be a transformative experience as well. 

 When you combine these two life events it can get interesting.

Brandon deployed to Afghanistan my senior year of college. I knew it was bound to happen eventually but I didn't realize it would happen only a year and a half into our relationship. To make matters even more interesting, I had chosen to film a documentary on PTSD in the military for my senior thesis before I knew he was leaving.

I did not know anyone at the time who had their boyfriend deployed to a war zone. 

After I said goodbye I basically became a hermit for a good month. Other than going to the gym and class I didn't want to do anything. My friends were phenomenal at getting my out of the house and enjoying my senior year but there are some things I wish I had done differently.

Here are my tips for handling college while your spouse is deployed.

1. Acknowledge that your college experience is now going to be different
  You're not going to have the same carefree college life that other student have. What your spouse is up to and if they are okay is going to be on your mind most if not all of the time. I call it "the fog". You could be out to dinner with your girlfriends having a great time but your mind and heart is an ocean away. What your feeling is okay. It is normal. Don't think that you are being dramatic because of it.

2. You Can Still Have Fun!
  You worked hard in college. You deserve to still enjoy yourself while your significant other is gone. Whatever you enjoyed in college like sports, going out with friends, volunteering, etc. keep doing it! You are going to need these things now more than ever. Keeping busy is the key.

I was very lucky to have friends who made sure I got out of the house and had fun.

3. Don't Expect Your Friends To Understand
   It is not their job to fully understand what you are going through. None of my friends in college were in a military relationship and most at the time were single. Nonetheless, they did their best to keep me busy and make sure I was handling the distance well. 

4. Communication Will Be Harder
   There will be time where you're in class and you miss a call. You'll forget to take your phone off silent after leaving the library and you'll miss the text letting you know they'll be without a phone for a week. 
   I went to a smaller college where it would be noticed if I jumped up and left the room to answer a phone. Let your professors know about the situation; they will most likely let you leave in the event you receive a phone call from your spouse. 
   I was also in a sorority and our big chapter meetings were phone free. They were aware of my situation and were happy to let me keep my phone.
   People will accommodate but you can't be at the ready to answer a call all the time.

We only skyped a grand total of three times for the nine months but it was better than nothing for sure!

5. The Internet Can Be Your Friend...and Your Enemy
   Since I didn't know anyone personally who had someone who was deployed, I turned to the internet to connect with others. I say connect a bit loosely since I didn't exactly want to become bffs with anyone online but I wanted to connect with other military spouses. I created a tumblr account chronicling the deployment and joined various facebook groups.
  I learned great information, gained perspective on different aspects of military lives and felt encouraged by these women. 

  I also learned that every relationship is different and just because a woman is complaining about her husband's new girlfriend (I'm being completely serious) doesn't mean that it is going to happen to you. The internet can often create problems that aren't there to begin with so take everything you read online, especially with military relationships with a grain of salt.


I graduated college with the love of my life deployed in Afghanistan. I survived, I still had fun and you can as well. You don't need to spend your college nights holed up in your room waiting for a phone call that may or may not come. 

Our relationship became so much stronger because of the deployment and I was still able to keep the strong bonds with my girlfriends long after we graduated.

Your first deployment will be difficult, just like all the deployments that lie ahead. You can still thrive in college and have fond memories of college life despite the challenges in communication and unknowns.

You got this. 



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