Thriving over Surviving

I’m regularly immersed in literature focused on the experiences of military spouses, couples, and families. I love reading the qualitative narratives of other spouses, like myself. Other than inspiration, I receive a direct heart-to-heart link to their deployment experiences, the challenges they face, the resiliency that helps them survive the arduous times. Military spouses know the impact that wartime deployments can have on couples and family members. I remember those days well…some of you might be able to relate to my deployment experiences, while others are bearing down for your first.

Deployment Experiences: Sound Familiar?

  • Anxiety that follows thoughts of war and loss.
  • Fear of how deployment and distance might impact one’s relationship.
  • Stress of parenting while one’s spouse is away.
  • Miscommunication during on-line chats and emails.
  • Missed opportunities to connect while apart.
  • The loneliness (Being in a room filled with supportive family and friends while your thoughts are with your spouse).
  • Coming-home excitement (and angst).
  • First days of reacquainting with your spouse.
  • Weeks or months of reintegration, re-shifting your schedule, and negotiating roles and responsibilities (especially if a new baby arrived during deployment).

Some of you are nodding your head. You’ve been there. You remember the tears, the frustration, the hyperarousal when seeing an unknown car pull into your driveway. You may have had a one-day-at-a-time motto to get you through that season.

These stressors are unique to the military spouse experience. If you’re a spouse visiting this post and are barely surviving the transitional phases of deployments or this military lifestyle, you are NOT alone. There are so many spouses with shared experiences. We just don’t talk about them much. After all, society expects us to be “strong” … strong for our spouses, so they can serve our country and accomplish the mission.

I want to encourage you to consider the following however: Do you want to survive during deployment times and other seasons of change, or do you want to thrive?

To thrive=to bloom. Spouses, I was not flourishing like a beautiful flower during my husband’s third deployment. No. I felt more like a dead, stepped on flower, especially after having my first child. I was depleted and hungry for community. I lived about two hours from the nearest military base, and supportive FB spouse groups in my area weren’t even a thing. I now understand the difference between being in military spouse “survival-mode” vs. thriving in this role, and in life.

If you’re merely surviving, don’t beat yourself up. Feel encouraged and take a positive small step towards thriving. The list below has helped me grow and adapt during the dryer seasons of this military life.

5 Thrive over Survive Strategies:

  1. Grab a journal and reflect on times when you felt passionate about life. What were you doing different during that time?
  2. Get inspired by others (TED Talks and other bloggers have given me quite the push lately).
  3. Meet new people (challenge yourself to go beyond the superficial “hello”).
  4. Step outside your comfort zone and try something new (i.e., sketching, being in the calm of nature, meditation, exercise).
  5. Catch-up with an old friend and share. Chat about your dreams. Friends can be such a source of encouragement!

Hang in there spouses–we’re in this together! Please let me know what’s helped YOU thrive in the comments section.

Cheers friends!


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