Brian M. Murray, MS, IMH
Having a spouse or loved one who is deployed either in the military, as a missionary for a church or on assignment with company related business then chances are at some point the blues will kick in missing that other person. For the person who is deployed or on assignment the trip is often like an adventure staying busy and focused on the task at hand. Adjusting to other cultures and travel become time consuming. For the person at home life goes on as usual minus the spouse. After a little bit of time the at home spouse begins to feel the void and time missed spent with the other person. This is often when the blues kick in really missing them being a part of their everyday life.
Deployed spouse blues is similar to depression in how it is handled. Isolating and spending too much time alone leads to similar symptoms of depression. It is different however as the blues are just that, feeling down by longing for what is missing. Depression comes with a set of specific criteria that defines it as depression. Some of the overlap of the deployed spouse blues versus depression are poor sleeping habits, feeling sad or empty for most of the day, feelings of restlessness or slowed down, easily fatigued and diminished concentration. The reason for this is the distraction of thoughts of the other person being gone and adjusting to living life without them for period of time. Suddenly the home becomes a one person responsibility. Children, pets, maintenance and everything else that goes along with running a household can become difficult.
So if a person is feeling bluesy from a spouse spending chunk of time away from home what can be done about it? Interestingly, the solution is the same as depression. Get busy! Do not isolate or shrink back from friends and family. If anything engage more than before. Do not skip social functions or call in sick to work. Often there is time when spouses spend time together such as in the evening hours. Fill that time with other activities so as not to fill that time with the emptiness and lonely feelings without the other person there. Take walks, go to the park, library, bookstore, exercise or something else during that time preferably outside of the home and if that is not an option then find projects to work on at home. The idea is to create a distraction.
Now for some good news. Feeling the loss of a deployed loved one is an indication of love for the other person. Understanding that feeling, that void, shows just how much the other person brings meaning and joy to your life. Spend some time reflecting on the relationship and allow yourself to embrace the moment when the two of you will reunite. Sometimes spending time apart helps the heart grow fonder and for the long haul can greatly enhance a marriage.
One last suggestion, before the other person gets home, take some time a few days out to prepare the home for their return. To give an idea of what this might look like think in terms of a mini-honeymoon. Don’t just tell them how much they were missed, show them and let them see just how very much they are a special part of your life.
About the author- Brian M Murray is a devoted professional helping people overcome difficult obstacles in life. He is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern located in Orlando and Winter Park Florida working as a counselor in a private practice setting at The LifeWorks Group.
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