Hardships Faced by Families When Your Partner is Serving Overseas

September 28, 2023

Having a partner who is serving is an honour; we are so proud of their bravery and willingness to put their lives on the line for the sake of peace, but it does take a toll on all those involved. Here are some of the issues that can arise.

For wives:

  1. Missing your partner: when you love someone, you want to be together and time apart can cause us stress and more besides. If you were both social and now find that you are having to stay at home, this can cause even more problems, especially if you don’t have friends locally or are new to the area.
  2. Communication issues: if partners are serving in a different time zone, it can be difficult to find time to connect. This especially if you have children and have to work because you will be tired. You may also be restricted time wise and it’s never easy being romantic with a time lad, bad connection and their room mate being 2 feet away…
  3. Being a single parent for most of the year: parenting is tiring at the best of times with 2 people, but can be particularly  overwhelming for new parents because you don’t have anyone to turn to. If your child is acting up in any way as a result of your partner’s absence, this can lead to conflict at home.
  4. Loneliness: it’s really hard to be away from the person you love, especially if you yourself have moved away from your long term friends and/or family.
  5. Financial Issues: when your partner is away, you may be faced with additional pressures caused by for example needing urgent jobs done in the house; just keeping the car running with routine oil and tyre pressure checks can be daunting.
  6. Fear: we all worry about those we care about when they are not around us. Having a partner in an area of conflict in a country you are unfamiliar with can place enormous stress on us

For children:

  1.  Missing their other parent: children can experience separation anxiety when one parent is away. If that parent is in an area of conflict, this is very hard. Some schools are good at helping with this, but sadly there are exceptions which will increase a child’s emotional stress. If the parent’s deployment is in an area of conflict, children can worry about the worst outcome which often causes emotional and mental problems.
  2.  Academic progress: schooling can be challenging for our children at the best of times, especially around the time of exams such as O levels and subject choices for A levels. It’s not uncommon for children to withdraw or have noticeable drops in grades.
  3. Having to take on additional responsibilities: I know this is quite common especially for families where the first child is male. Boys tend to assume the role of “man of the house” at quite an early age in the prolonged absence of a father at home; this can lead to subsequent conflict with the parent when they return.
  4. Feeling of being “abnormal”: schools have a number of regular events such as parents evenings and sports days when it’s normal for both parents to attend. Children from military families can feel they are missing out and in some cases even being bullied because only one parent can come.

Both parenting and growing up are stressful times of our lives and with most long term situations, it’s so much easier when you have someone by your side to help. When you’ve got a long car journey ahead, it’s much nicer to have another adult who can drive a few hours and give you some rest.

I know it’s hard for wives when partners come home and want to re-assume managing the house. They are probably still in “operational” mode and need time to wind down. You on the other hand have a list of jobs they need to do before they go off; this can cause problems. They may get annoyed because the house is untidy and feel you’re not keeping up inspection standards while they are away.

If they only have a short leave, you can’t help focussing on the fact that they are off in a few days and you therefore only have a certain amount of time. Trying to cram everything in, including travelling to visit family can be stressful and leave you feeling upset when they go off again because it was all about doing everything for everyone else and you didn’t have enough time together as a couple.

This site is very much about us opening up about the things we have found hard in life. Sometimes the outcomes themselves were upsetting, but maybe sharing our experiences can help others and in so doing help us heal our wounds.

How have you coped when your other half was deployed?

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