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Why Are We Fighting So Much Before Deployment?

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

My husband and I have been married for almost two years, and we have been through a lot together -- good and bad.

But this is the hardest thing in my life. My husband is deploying in two months. And I have never felt so heartbroken.

I try to keep myself from crying around him. I try to stay strong because I don't want him to know I'm hurting. I don't even want our outside family to know I'm hurting because I feel like I have to be the strong one. 

But it feels like he is trying to do the same. He is not big on telling me his feelings. As a good wife, I always know how he is feeling, no matter what. He tries to hide his feelings.

Now we are starting to fight about all the little things we never got mad over before. Even though we would get upset with each other from time to time, this is different. We used to get over it in 10-15 minutes. But now it is hours, which feels like days.

I don't want to fight with him. I just want him to spend every moment of every day with me.

I know this isn't a big problem and I know other military spouses are going through worse. I just want to know what to do. I want our last months together to be amazing or just better.

Sincerely,
SD 
 

Dear SD,

Your feelings are normal. This is a very scary and stressful time for you. Even though your husband is serving his country, he is experiencing an array of emotions too.

This is your first deployment and I’m assuming it's his first time too. You sound like so many of my clients who have office visits with me. There are so many feelings around the deployment and separation that couples find themselves arguing for no specific reason.

Perhaps couples think it’s easier to separate from someone when you are angry at them. There is a buildup of anxiety and tension until the day of the deployment.

The tension decreases. In the days to follow, the anxiety and tension will build again as you deal with many factors: being away from each other, missing each other tremendously, the inability to speak to each other by phone whenever you want, finding yourself in different roles and responsibilities while your husband is away, what to do with your extra time etc.

Crying is very normal, given the situation. I remember crying when my husband was deployed. Personally, each deployment became harder for me, but with each one there was personal growth that I truly appreciate.

You can make it through this deployment. First of all, you don’t have to be the “strong one." Nobody has to do that.

It’s very important for you and your husband to share your feelings. Holding back your feelings is a huge factor that’s starting the arguments, so start talking.

It’s very important for couples to build a stronger bond before the deployment. Otherwise, an emotional gap could become larger, and you don’t want that.

In addition to discussing how you both feel about the upcoming deployment, try to spend some time together. For example, a quick weekend trip for some romance and fun.

Lastly, both of you have to build a network of support to help you get through the deployment. These people should help you through deployment and other tough times. This includes your close family and friends, spiritual support, support from other military spouses, co-workers etc.

I often speak of the support I received from civilian co-workers. Your support can come from people who are affiliated with the military and those who are not. It’s important for you not to put yourself in a box.

You may experience this deployment in one way, but another spouse may have a different experience. Please allow me to be a part of your support network and keep in touch with me during the deployment. I wish you and your family the best.

Sincerely,
Ms. Vicki

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Contributor

Ms. Vicki is a native of Dallas, has been the Dear Abby for the military community since her column began in 2005. A licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker, Ms. Vicki holds a Master of Science in social work and a Master of Arts in clinical psychology.

Ms. Vicki appears regularly on Military.com and in the Fort Campbell Courier. Her column has also appeared in the Washington (D.C.) Times and in the Heidelberg (Germany) Post Herald. She has been featured on CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC.

Looking for advice about your military life? Email Ms. Vicki here. Find Ms. Vicki on Facebook here.  Find Ms. Vicki on Twitter here.

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