Refreshing your email every three minutes? The mind tends to wander when there has been a lack of communication from your sailor at sea. I have experienced this many times. Each person has a different response – you may have begun to feel anxious, sad, mad, etc. Here are a few ways to combat these feelings:
Find a buddy
Find a fellow spouse or significant other who also has a sailor deployed ideally with your sailor or a fellow submarine lover to commiserate with. It’s always nice to have someone say “I feel the same way! I just wish we would hear from them!” I have been the person who has received many emails and lets my buddy know everything is still ok and I’ve also been the buddy who asks “Hey, have you heard anything? I just need to know everything is ok.” Side note: I would have an honest conversation with your buddy if their sailor is deployed with yours regarding discussing when you receive communication. Do we want to share every time we get an email or just when the other asks? Sometimes it nice to have a friend who is emailed more frequently, especially if you do not expect regular emails. Sometimes it may result in feelings of jealousy, sadness, anger, or more. Hence the importance of conversation around sharing when you hear from your sailor. Try to honor your needs and respect the needs of others.
Attend a FRG meeting
Family Readiness Group meetings often include an ombudsman update. The ombudsman is the liaison between the command and the crew’s families. Ombudsmans receive messages from the command that include updates regarding crew morale and ongoings, which are wonderful to hear! It also allows you to connect with those who are “in the same boat”. An excellent way to find a deployment buddy is through attending FRG meetings and events. Most FRGs also have Facebook pages that provide opportunities for meet ups and share the events calendars.
Find something new to fill your time
The time we get to spend with our sailors is precious as we have these extended periods without them, however finding new hobbies or activities is helpful to thriving while they are away. This could include volunteering to help with the next FRG event, taking up baking after binge watching British Bake Off, finding a local hiking group, seeing what your local MWR has to offer for free activities. Take a look at The Submerged Life’s duty station bucket lists for Groton and Oahu or things to do tag which includes a variety of activities at the various duty stations for inspiration.
If you’re missing your sailor and your brain is running wild with questions and concerns, try recalling the happiest memories you’ve had with your sailor. Watch you wedding video. Look at pictures from your first trip together. Listen to old voicemails. Read old cards. Recall those sweet or funny phrases that your sailor says frequently that make you smile.
Try your best to think about the positive
Stewing over a lack of emails or previous negative phone conversations can lead to future ugly conversations with your sailor. Write down all those feelings and thoughts so they are out of your head. It can be in a form of a letter to your sailor if they are things to discuss in person or just simply to be written down to shred or burn to allow yourself to move on so the next time you have a chance to speak with your sailor it can be a more positive experience for both of you.
Bonus advice as it suits your relationship with your sailor:
Before they deploy, have your sailor write letters or cards for you
Letters, cards or even post-it notes. Stagger the messages throughout the deployment, this way when you’re having a tough time in-between communication periods you have something to focus on.
Discuss expectations re: boat communication before they leave
It’s best to establish expectations of the frequency of communication via email or phone calls/ video chats when they are at sea or during port calls. Each person has different wants and needs. Some sailors want daily email others don’t. Be honest but also be realistic to what the underway responsibilities entail for your sailor and their comfort in sharing while they are away.
How do you cope with no communication? Comment below!