Without My Husband, I Still Need Good Hair
May 21, 2009 By myheroesathome
Posted at YouServed - military blog and podcast
I did a magazine interview yesterday about what it’s like to be the wife of a deployed soldier.
“What’s the thing you miss you the most while your husband is gone?” The interviewer asked.
“Being told that I’m pretty,” I said.
“Don’t print that,” I added quickly. “I meant to say, I miss having someone tell me my hair looks nice.”
As embarrassing as it is to admit, it’s true. When your husband is gone for a year, it’s the little, intimate, romantic things that you miss the most. Things you never really noticed until they were gone. I’m not talking about sex. You will notice that the sex is missing. But you won’t wake up three months into the deployment thinking ‘no one has said they like my outfit in a really long time.’ You will just feel less sexy, less attractive, less confident, and you will wonder why. Maybe you get your haircut differently. But you come home to an empty house and no one is there to notice, so the thrill of ‘the new, fresh-from-the-salon you’ is gone. Maybe you buy a new dress, but there is no one to take you out to dinner in it.
In those tiny, everyday moments, I feel the loneliest. At the office, I have work to keep me occupied. I can take girlfriends to plays or gallery openings and have more fun than if I had dragged Paul along. Even on holidays, extended family keeps me busy and we usually get a special phone call from overseas. But on random Tuesday nights when I am watching the Dancing With The Stars results show and there is no one there to rub my feet or listen to me complain that Giles’ scores should have been higher… those are the moments when I hate the deployment.
Supporting our troops is critical. But supporting the families of deployed military personnel is important, too, and it’s easy. You don’t have to babysit their kids or mow their lawns for them. (Although, I don’t know many military spouses who would turn down those offers of help!) Instead, just treat them with kindness. Remember that they are doing it all alone right now, and that gentle support and love that we get from our spouses is missing from their lives.
Give hugs. Never under-estimate the power of physical touch. When Paul is deployed and I’m sleeping alone every night, it’s hard to get used to not having that contact. No one hugs you or kisses you or holds your hand. I know I can’t ask my girlfriends to make up for the kissing or hand-holding, but a heartfelt hug and a ‘how you doing?’ can mean the world to me on a stressful day.
Complement me. Everyone likes to know their outfit is pretty or their hair looks good. Usually, we count on our spouses for that validation – but sometimes it can mean even more coming from girlfriends (my husband has no idea whether my shoes are cute or not!) Or better yet, when is the last time you sincerely complemented a neighbor or co-worker? It doesn’t have to be physical. How about throwing a little praise my way because my yard looks great, or because I’m holding on to my poise even though you know it must be hard being without my soldier.
Include me. Just because my other half is missing, doesn’t mean I don’t want to hang out with you and your significant other. People are so afraid of drawing attention to my married-but-single status and making me uncomfortable as the ‘third wheel,’ they don’t invite me to do anything at all. Maybe a table for 3 would be awkward at our favorite restaurant, but I would still love to come to your house for a BBQ. Please, make the call.
Talk about my soldier. He’s in a foreign country, but he still exists. I assure you; not mentioning him does NOT make me miss him any less. Even if we’re not talking about him, I’m still thinking about him; wondering if he’s safe; obsessively checking my cell phone for his call. It would make me feel good to know that you’re thinking about him, too. Just keep it brief and upbeat.
Say ‘Thank You.’ It really doesn’t take any more than that. Just two words. Remind me that you know that I am serving our country, too; that I am also making sacrifices. And that you appreciate it. It may not make me feel pretty, but it will always make the burden of deployment a little easier to bear.
Read more from Katie Dyer at Heroes At Home