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When your spouse is deployed, whether you have children or not, you're bound to face some significant changes. But packing lunches, driving to and from school, and going to activities with children may help military spouses with kids develop a new routine. But what about child-free spouses? Without the distraction of children, it can be hard to face this solo adventure as a party of one. Let's look at some ways you can tackle your spouse's deployment positively and productively by setting goals, making new friends, developing new hobbies, and learning how to be alone.
Set New Goals
A major life change, like a spouse's deployment, is the perfect time to set new goals and start fresh. While the first few days after your spouse leaves may be filled with mourning and tears, force yourself to get out of bed, get dressed, and set some tangible goals for yourself. Start small to not feel overwhelmed and slowly work your way up to things that would make you proud. Even if your first few goals are as small as going to the grocery store and cooking a meal for yourself once a week, it will give you something to keep your mind off this emotional time. Some goals to consider may include:
- Taking a cooking class and learning how to prepare some new dishes before your husband or wife comes home
- Getting to the gym or outside to reach your exercise goals
- Reading one novel a month
- Volunteering at a local nonprofit (try the animal shelter! Nothing will make you feel better than a furry friend)
- Going to the community events in your neighborhood
When setting your goals, make sure they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For example, instead of saying you will go to the gym more, commit to going three times a week or set a tangible mile time you want to meet.
Make New Friends
One of the best ways to survive a spouse's deployment, especially without little ones to take all of your attention, is to make new friends and build yourself a support system. There are countless ways to do this, including getting involved in things going on around base, joining a MeetUp just for military spouses, or joining a special interest group in your neighborhood. No matter what you enjoy doing, there are sure to be others around you who have similar hobbies.
Try a New Hobby
Speaking of hobbies, trying something new is a great way to meet new friends and distract yourself from your spouse's deployment. Instead of viewing your new life as a lonely one, embrace this time and do something you've always wanted to do. Maybe you've always wanted to take a dance class, learn how to throw pottery, or take a class at your local community college (ask for military discounts!). Now is the time to do it. Staying busy and learning a new skill, trade, or passion can help your spouse's deployment fly by.
Learn How to Be Alone
Wait, wasn't this post all about how not to be lonely? Well, there is an important distinction between being "lonely" and being "alone." We live in a society where we are always bombarded with information and social engagement. Between the news, social media, work, school, and more, it's rare to find time just for yourself. But Psychology Today does a great job of explaining the differences between alone and lonely and why it's important to find time just to be.
Learning how to be alone allows you to drop your guard, think for yourself, and introspectively examine your current needs. The lack of outside influence makes it easier to look at who you are, who you want to be, and your attitudes about things. With a deployed spouse, it's almost guaranteed that you'll find yourself alone at some point. Learn how to love this time to yourself and invest in your wellbeing.
There's no denying that a spouse's deployment is filled with all kinds of emotions, and without children to guide your routine, child-free couples may struggle with this change. But by setting goals for yourself, discovering new friends and hobbies, and learning how to enjoy being alone, you can create a positive and productive deployment. Time flies when you're having fun and taking care of yourself!