Preparation is the best way to say goodbye with less stress.

How to Handle My Boyfriend's Deployment

by Charles Hooper

A consequence of dating a member of the armed services is the possibility of deployment overseas. The news often comes like a thunderbolt, and your reaction will depend largely on how much the two of you have prepared for this moment. Fortunately, there are ways to be ready for his deployment, cope with his absence and prepare for his homecoming.

1. Make Preparations

Advance preparation for deployment will go a long way toward reducing stress. Foremost is the need to build a strong relationship while the two of you are together. Communicate freely, keeping in mind that it is best to talk about difficult issues in advance. Separated military couples typically worry most about trust and loss, and answering "what if" questions will go a long way toward bringing peace of mind after he leaves. Plan how the two of you will stay in touch. Link up with other girlfriends and wives within your boyfriend's unit. This connection will give you a strong sense of family and a powerful resource to fall back on when you need someone who understands what you are going through.

2. While He is Away

Staying in touch is the single most important tool the two of you have to maintain a strong relationship. GIs love "mail call," so send frequent and short yet informative letters. Avoid burdening him with worrisome issues that he cannot control. Care packages are always a great idea, especially if they include items unique to the two of you. Photos, special food items you know he likes and little things to help him pass the time are all excellent ideas. If you find yourself having difficulty coping with his absence, do not hesitate to seek help. Turn to your family and friends, including your military family. If your feelings interfere with your daily life, getting professional assistance might be necessary.

3. Remember Yourself

Avoid focusing all of your attention on your absent boyfriend. Your needs are important, too, so remember to do the things you enjoy and maintain your normal routines. Staying active and maintaining a healthy diet will keep you stronger. Loneliness and missing his company are normal feelings.

4. When He Comes Home

Few things are more joyful than your boyfriend's return home, yet you should be prepared. Expect that you may have grown to be more independent or will become even more attached to him. Depending on how long he has been away and what he experienced, he might be different, too. A difficult period of reconnecting might await you. If your boyfriend has served within a combat role, stay especially attuned to any emotional or mental problems that may emerge. If you think he needs it, encourage him to seek help right away.

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