Mailbag: How Much Talk is Too Much?


One of the hardest things to navigate as a military spouse is deployment.  That's not to say that the rest of military life is skittles and rainbows, it's just that when your spouse is there with you and can talk/help/rub your feet through it, the stress level isn't quite so high.  As soon as they leave, though, not only are we completely and totally aware that we're on our own and responsible for whatever comes our way physically, but we're walking a fine line emotionally as well.

We are made aware, in a myriad of ways, that lives are on the line and our spouse needs to have his/her head in the game to keep everything moving as smoothly and with the fewest "incidents" possible.  We can almost see the giant wall spring up in between us - the wall that keeps our issues on our side and only allows the happy thoughts and cookies to bounce over to our spouse.  It's not a one way road, either.  Our spouses rarely give us a nitty-gritty run down of the ugliness they encounter.

The problem is that life rarely allows us to color within the lines.  Things come up, things we can't keep to ourselves, even at the risk of distracting our significant other from their work at hand.  One of our commenters referred to the sanitizing of our home situations to our deployed spouses as "HOMESEC", a term I absolutely love.  Unfortunately, the HOMESEC lines are blurry, and that leads us to a question from BP:

I have been in love with my boyfriend for two years, he's a corpsman currently deployed. I e-mail him every day, and keep the phone close to me always. Mostly I just tell him about the day-day stuff, how the dog's doing, how my job's going...  I have had a major blow emotionally dealing with my father. My boyfriend knows my history with my father, and has always been there for me. I know he has enough going on on his side of the world, but he is my best friend and no one else knows how to make me feel better. I feel guilty venting to him via e-mail knowing how much he already has going on. I guess what I really want to know is; is it ok to vent to him about what's going on here, or should I keep our conversations "ssdd" until he gets back (a long time from now)? Is it selfish of me to want him to make it better like always?
BP, I wish I could give you a hard and fast rule about what to say and what not to say, but the truth is that it's something we all play by ear.  Even the most experienced mil-spouses can't say, "Definitely never this, always that," because situations are so fluid.  Last summer, while my husband was gone, I completely sanitized a possibly severe medical problem I was having in my communications with my husband.  On the other hand, a friend of mine who was suffering from an extremely debilitating illness kept her husband abreast of every single detail.  The discussion decision is a calculation:  what is your significant other doing?  How important is it for you to discuss the issue?  How would your spouse feel about being "left out" of the discussion?  How will you cope if you aren't able to discuss it with them?

In the end, the calculation is different for everyone.  There are certainly people who abuse it - both on the service-member side and from the home front.  And there are also those who try to hold back too much, creating difficulties during reintegration that try a relationship worse than the actual deployment.  In a perfect world, we'd all have spotless houses, perfect diets, and children without runny noses.  In the real world, though, things are never that simple or clean-cut.

And one thing to remember is that, even though our service-members minds are "in the game", they still need to know how much we will need them when they come home.  For all the bill paying, checkbook balancing, home plumbing repair, and hidden sleepless nights - they need to know that even though we can take care of things at home, we still need them with us.  Cutting them off completely from the ups and downs of our home life can be perilous as well.

In the end, what we share is a personal decision, based on the two people involved.  Everyone approaches it differently, but what matters most is that you are able to approach it in the best way for both of you.

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