Staying Connected

Updated on December 04, 2007
N.P. asks from Minneapolis, MN
9 answers

My husband will be leaving soon for his second tour in Iraq, the last time I really struggled to feel connected and close to him, I felt as if some of our love was lost. I would like to know from any one out there who has ideas or suggestions on how to stay close when a loved one is away. Also any suggestions on how to deal with the seperation for myself as well as our almost 2 year old daughter, this is going to have a profound effect on her. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!!

Also I have another request/rant, lately (as my husband's deployment comes closer) people have acctually been asking me if I worry that he will die, or if I wonder what life will be like without him. People also feel it necessary to tell me that this is going to be so hard on my daughter and cant possible imagine how awful and horrible this must be. They ask how difficult or hard it has been and how I cope. I understand that these peolpe are curious about deployment, concerned about me and my daughter and this is how they are showing their compassion, but please understand this doesnt help. Asking these questions and making these statements only makes it harder. I try (as I am certian other military spouses do) to not think about these things, yes I worry, yes I am afraid and cry....a lot. But I have to be strong, for myself and my daughter. I plan on my husband coming home and all my concerns and fears, pain, sadness and doubt are right under the surface, my "tough" face is fragile. Please dont ask these questions, please understand that unless you have experienced this you do not understand what it is like. Every spouce/love one deals with deployment diffrently but I am sure that none of us like to be asked or talk about what it might be like if our loved one does not come home.

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So What Happened?

Thank you all for your responses, advice and support. I appreciate it more than I can tell you. As the time gets closer and closer (only a few days left with him now) I can feel myself becoming more anxious and sad, but I have printed all your suggestions and will DEFINATLY use every one of them. Also thank you for allowing me to send personal emails, a connection to others who understand how I feel means very much to me. Thank you all so much!

Featured Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi N.
My nephew is deployed and a way he stays in contact with my family is through Myspace. This is free and easy to use. There is also instant messaging, so you can go back and forth in real time. Not as good as talking on the phone, but it is the cheapest way to stay connected. You can also see when they are online.

You can also get rechargeable phone cards at the PX. If you go online you have to pay a $10 shipping fee. The minutes are cheapest going this route and can be recharged by anyone anytime.

You can also send a free phone card and I think you can do it every 60 days.

Hope this helps!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Hey N....

My boyfriend was deployed for 13 months and has not been back for 1 year. It was also hard on my son. When my bf left, my son was 2. He cried almost for 3 days straight and I actually took him to the Dr. because of it. To this day my son does not like when his daddy leaves. ANYWAY...I can totally understand how you feel that some love was lost. We are not married but there is still something different. I know my bf wont admit it but something in Iraq changed him. This was his second tour of duty. I know what he liked was, music, and letters. My cousins runs a daycare and they sponsered him (sent him care packages) and he got letters and drawings from all the kids. He just liked knowing what was going on back home. Hopefully he will be somewhere you will be able to talk with him. My bf was not...sometimes it was 2 months in between talks. Good luck and my heart and prayers to you!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I have a sister who is leaving to Iraq December 24, So I can relate to the mixed emotions. I have talked to her and come to realize that me being strong helps her alot. I suggest write alot send lots of pictures I know they get busy over there and they cannot always write back but believe me they will love the fact that we think about them as much as they do us. And I saw on the news awhile back that they have support groups for families and children to come up together and get the support they need. Hope this encourages as well as helps you....

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answers from Minneapolis on

I know of a woman who had a lifesize cardboard cut out of her husband made! They even took their Christmas picture with it! Before he goes, check with Proex and see if they can do this. That way, your daughter and you will see the image of him everyday.

As for the people asking you the very personal and depressing questions. I would through it back at them. None of us know what will happen tomorrow. Any of us could die driving to work in the morning. We could be diagnosed with cancer. We don't know what our future holds. That's true for a soldier, or a regular citizen. We all live with uncertainty and you choose to look at the bright side, as they should. We are winning the war, and you don't need others bringing you down, when you are fighting your war of surviving each day! Ordinary life with a baby daughter is very busy and active... and tiring! I appreciate everything you go through every day. You are my hero!

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answers from Minneapolis on

Hey, N....

I never had my spouse be deployed, but I was a military kid growing up. My dad went to the first Desert Storm. I was older than your little one, but there were some things that Dad did to make it easier for us. He took me out to eat and shopping alone with him to pick out special stationary that would be just for his letters to me. (He did this for my bro and sis, too) I knew when I saw those striped envelopes that I had a special letter just from my Dad to me. In fact, I still have one of his letters in my childhood treasure box :) We did other things, too. As a family after he was away, we would make cassette tapes (back in the day, right??) and video recordings of us talking, singing, and playing. We sent those off regularly to Dad through the mail or on flights hopping in, along with handmade goodies and cards. Apparently, the entire units would watch and listen to those we found out later. We watched home movies that included Dad so we could keep him close. Mom did some things to make that time special, too. We had the occassional midnight tea party in pajamas where we watched old musicals and made blueberry muffins...that sort of thing. Mom and Dad tried to talk on the phone when they could. They each had a special picture of them together that they kept by their bed. She wrote him, too. Now, one thing that is nice is that it seems like your hubby may be able to get to email or sometimes even a webcam even while deployed depending on his area. I think Mom used to keep a running list of things that happened in between phone calls...things she felt or thought about, things that us kids did or said, and that sort of she could share them with Dad the next time he was able to call. We spent time praying together for Dad, our family, and other soldiers. We tried to connect with other families who had parents deployed. At the time, we were overseas in England, so many of the kids we knew were in the same boat. I have also heard of parents using the iron-on photo paper to put a life size picture of the deployed parent's face on a pillow or doll for their child (or them!) to hug when they need to. One thing I will say about that time that Dad was deployed is that our family grew closer together even though he was far away, and we saw in very real ways how God loved and cared for us in the day to day. I remember one time when my little brother was screaming and crying that he couldn't sleep until he talked to his Daddy. Mom didn't know what to do, but as she prayed, the phone rang. My dad had gotten up in the middle of the night because he felt like he was supposed to call home. He talked to Matt for a few minutes, and Matt fell sound asleep. We knew that God knew... There were times when I was terrified, and times when I was sad. Mom was good about allowing us to share those things--verbally, through writing or drawing, or whatever it was. She cried with us, too, which helped us to know that it was okay to be sad that he was away. She helped us talk about the things we loved about our dad, and what we would do when he got home. Those were moments that drew us closer. I know that is probably harder with a 2 year old. But, love on her, and help her love on her daddy while he is away. I saw Mom keep trying to reach out to Dad while he was gone...she sent him cards and love letters regularly and the like. Forever marked on my heart will be the night he came home. We went to the flight line on the base. It was dark, but there were spotlights on the plane and the airstrip. We saw him coming from a distance. The MPs let my Mom run to him... She ran down the flight line and he picked her up and spun her around. It was so precious. Then we all got bear hugs... I know it is never easy, and I can only imagine how difficult it is when it is your spouse. I will pray for you and little Nadira and your hubby until he is home again. Feel free to email if you need someone to write to or if you need something.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Hi N.,

Sorry this response is so late. I wanted to get a bunch of info to you. Here a few things that we have done. My hubby has been deployed this past year and will be coming home in the next 8 weeks for the end finally, yeah!

#1 Get a "Flat Daddy". While your hubby is still home have him pose for a pic from the waist up in military uniform w/o his hat. Then take your camera and/or pic to your local printing store and ask them to print and laminate then mount this on foam core board. You can get your first one done for free at Bayport Printing in Bayport, MN (near Stillwater) if you are interested. Or go to and you can have it laminated and mailed for free and mount it yourself. Up to you. You can also get a Daddy Doll which I may have done if I would have known how large the Flat Daddy's really are. You have to pay for that though and their pic specifications are different so check out their site for those details at;

# 2 Visit Governor Pawlenty's wife Mary's site for military assistance at; on the right of the website you will see a list you can click into for all kinds of things. I have had my daughter's birthday party planned and thrown. It was awesome! Also have had somebody doing the lawn, leaves and snowplowing all for free the entire time my hubby has been gone. There are also organizations on there that just make blankets for military kids so be sure to spend some time looking at the list no matter where you live. Just pull up your town and start searching. This has been the best help :)

# 3 Go to Build-A-Bear while your hubby is home and create a new animal. Before getting it stuffed have your hubby do a recorded greeting to your daughter and then put it inside the animal. My hubby said something about how he would miss her so much and that he loves her and will be home as soon as he can. We gave it to her for Christmas last year and its definately something she has cherished! We also dressed her little Koala in military camoflage gear and she calls him "Daddy bear".

# 4 just some other sites for you to check out! (for when your hubby comes home you can go stay in one of these home for FREE to just reunite)

When my hubby deployed our daughter had just turned 2 years old and now will be turning 3yrs in January. Its all about how you keep her connected with Daddy. If you are upfront with her and not shy about talking to her I am sure she wil be fine. Being positive really helps and you will find having a toddler is nice too cause you won't have much time to be sad! They keep you really busy with hubby away! I hope that you also have some local family and friends to give you a "break" once in a while. I have family close by but its mostly been the friends who have helped me out. Stay connected with your husbands military family readiness group. There is a non-denominational group that meets monthly at Woodbury Lutheran in Woodbury, MN if thats something that interests you. That has been a huge help for us and they feed you at every meeting too!

Great comment about asking us military wives of deployed soldiers if we are afraid of our hubby's dying! There was quite a scare while my hubby was gone but its been months ago now. There was an explosion very close to where he is stationed. I had no idea it had happened because I have learned to NOT watch the garbage on the news. Any bad stuff you will know way before its on the news. Anyway, it was my own Dad that said...isn't that where your hubby is?! I was SHOCKED and terrified cause I hadn't even heard anything about it and I was frantically writing emails to everybody trying to figure out if his unit was ok. They were and they were over a mile away but it was still quite nerve-wracking.

The other thing that has bothered me is those the like to try to take politics and bring up their feelings on the war. For those of us with deployed soldiers we usually have a whole different take on all that. I can't stand talking to ignorant people about politics when our family is directly affected. Just not a good idea to bring up with military families of deployed soldiers because they are honestly more worried about the safety of their soldier than anything else!

Find military support wherever you can and be a regular attendee! You are also welcome to email me if you have any other questions/concerns. I know what you are about to go thru all too well and hope I can be supportive of others as well :) You will be fine and amazingly enough the time will fly by despite what you think right now. If you don't remember what it was like the first time he left when you were childless the goodbye is much harder when you have a child. But we stayed at the airport till we couldn't see the plane anymore. When he came home on leave in June we brought a huge balloon bouquet to him and my daughter carried it to the gate where he was flying into. Just create as many positive memories for her and talk to her, prayer with her about Daddy. We also got a webcam but my hubby isn't that great on a computer and he has to use somebody else's computer to do that. So we have only used it maybe 3 times. That hasn't been as much of a big deal. Take tons of pics and send him emails, packages, artwork from your daughter, pic cd's....all kinds of stuff. They will be fine if you do your job at keeping them connected. You guys will be fine too :)

Good Luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hello N.,

I have been in your husband's shoes it is really hard to leave and I am sure now it is even harder. I think that there are a few good ways to stay connected. If he has email there is this program called skype it is free and it allows you to talk through the computer and if you can get a web cam for the both of you, you are able to see each other while you talk.This would be great for your daughter too because then she can see her daddy. That might be able to help a bit. There seems to be more computer access there so even eamiling and sending photos.

As far as love being lost, I know what when I came back it was really difficult for me to connect with those that I love... he may have feelings that people do not understand where he is coming from. I can only imagine how hard that would be for you and frustrating. Now, that he will be going back again this feeling may hard for the both of you to be able to communicate. I think that sometimes it may help to have someone to help the both of you to be able to communicate. Again, it was really hard for me when I came back and I think having some guidance in that department would have been helpful.

I hope that this helps and I know that the questions are hard, but you can do it.

good luck,




answers from Minneapolis on

Hi N.,
My husband left on his second deployment in August and we have a 2 year old and a 7 year old. During the first deployment our daughter was 3 years old. I was surprised how adaptable she was during his deployment. Things that helped her were tapes/CD of her daddy reading her favorite books that he would read her. A picture frame with a picture of him that he recorded a message on saying "Hi baby this is Daddy, I love you and miss you." The best thing about being under 4 years old is that they don't have a sense of time yet - so if it's 2 days or a year they don't realize it. My daughter barely remembers any details of his last deployment. Plus toddlers don't understand others comments about war/politics. I have to be careful not to listen to news on the radio/TV when my 7 year old is around. The other day she asked me, "Why did George Bush send my daddy away?"

So far my 2 year old son is doing well but has moments when he sees things that remind him of his dad and he seems to miss him. One day at preschool he carried around a photo of his dad in uniform. Since I talked with his teachers in advance they were very understanding and didn't try to take it away from him. He has some camouflage pants that he calls his Daddy pants and loves to wear. He also loves listening to the recording of daddy reading books, talking on the phone and video conferencing. He sometimes goes to the computer to 'check to see if Daddy is there.' :) Much of the advice I've read also emphasizes keeping a routine for the child since it gives them a sense of security.

Overall my best advice is for you to take care of yourself. Make sure you get some breaks from caregiving, plenty of sleep and time to do things you enjoy. Also don't be afraid to take any help that people offer or ask for it! I used to hesitate and tried to be independent but people sincerely want to help, they just don't know how to.

Almost everyday I get questions and advice from people about my husband and the deployment - most of which are irritating since they've clearly don't understand the emotion and energy that getting through a deployment takes. My husband is in the ARNG but when he's not deployed we both work at the same company. So I get a lot of people asking how he is doing? Most people ask when I'll see/talk to him next or if they can send him something but rarely ask if they can help me in any way. My favorite question was a few months after he left he received a company award for a project he worked on before he was deployed. There is a annual big dinner with the CEO for folks who get the award and one of the directors in my area asked if he was planning to fly back for it. I just said he can't leave in the middle of mission unless someone dies or for major emergencies. I wanted to say if he could choose to come home he'd come home for something more important like my daughter's birthday or over the holidays - not a 3 hour company dinner!

My husband likes to be on deployments. He only has one job/role he focuses on - being a soldier and he's good at it. My company sent him a care package and they have great policies for soldiers who are deployed but nothing for spouses. He'd rather know someone is helping me rake the leaves, bring me dinner or get the snow shoveled since it's hard to do when you have a young or helping me fix something in the house than getting a care package. I wish people did more for kids and spouses of deployed soldiers. Since the last deployment it seems like there is a little more family help with charities like Operation Military Kids and the First Lady Military Care Initiative.

Recently I was surprised that I have a low tolerance when I'm with woman complaining about their husbands golfing for a day, watching sports or going hunting and leaving them with the kids for a couple days. I just want to say yeah - try having your husband leave for an entire year and not know if he'll come home the same way he left. I'd like to think I'd be more understanding of how irritating it can be but I feel like my family is apart and they still get to be together for holidays, birthdays and anniversaries. We are lucky if we even get a phone call.

I totally understand how you may feel some of your love was lost. I go through times when I really resent that my husband 'is doing this to our family.' When we married he was only doing weekend drills and I never thought of myself as a military wife with a husband who might get deployed overseas. Mainly I miss talking with him and feeling that we are connected and share daily experiences together. He's my sound board and it's hard to talk on the phone with the kids around. It hard not to feel like he's not holding up his side of the relationship and is just taking from me and not giving back. I want my turn.

Hang in there and if you need some to just talk with drop me an email.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have no experience with this as far as as spouse or parent...but my brother was in the army many years ago. As a family we would write him letters and send pictures to him where he was stationed. He was never deployed but being a young 18 year old, he still felt very lonely and left out.
I would suggest having your husband tape him saying something to your daughter....ex: Good night Nadira, I love you! Sleep tight! Or if he already says something special to her than tape that. Tape differnt things he says to her, she can listen whenver she wants. Also you can take pictures of your daughter doing silly things and you can make a small collage for him. Ask your husband what would be meaningful to him to have. That way he can tell you what would make him feel good. Something else I saw a while back that I thought was really neat was a mother took some of the dads old shirts and made a quilt out of the pieces, she gave them to her children and let them sleep with them, its a piece of can talk about the pieces and say, do you remember this was daddy's favorite shirt, etc. Always talk about him, if your daughter inquires, let her, answer her back with daddy is away and will be back very soon. You can put a picture of him on the wall and let her kiss it good night or say good morning to it.
AS for the love that is lost, write a journal of your feelings about your husband, how proud you are of him, what you do to get through the days of missing him. Share those with him when he returns, he will love hearing this coming from you at all different times of the day that you sat down to write about how you feel. Also, keep yourself surrounded by loved ones and friends, you can never have to many, right?

I dont have any good wisdom as far as the comments about the possibilyt of him not coming home or what its like when he's gone...I am always curious about how people cope with their loved ones being deployed, but I never ask because if it were me, I wouldnt like it either. Keep strong and keep busy. You are very strong and while we commend our military men and women for fighting for our country, we should do the same for the men and women who live months and months without their loved ones!

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