Last week we talked about the feeling of being forgotten when your husband leaves and you don’t have the contact that you are used to. I wanted to list some of the things that spouses can do for each other during deployments to make it just a little easier. This week it’s all about the husbands. And next week, you will have to cut this column out and put it on your husband’s dresser, because it will be about what husbands can do for their wives!
So, here is “The Husband List”. Send pictures. I think that pictures are the most important thing you can do. Send pictures of friends, pets, beautiful scenery, trees, the beach, etc. There are all different types of pictures that wives send. Please, please, please, for the love of Pete, think before you send*sexy* pictures out with your husband. It is one thing to send a beautiful sexy picture of you in his uniform shirt. It is another to send more revealing photos. Other men could see those pictures at some point. You can send beautiful, attractive pictures that will wow your husband without causing your husband to get into a fight with some guy to “defend your honor”. Yeah, that has really happened.
Another thing to do is put your perfume/scented lotion on something like a lady’s handkerchief. If you want the sent to stay, put it in a plastic bag. Now, do not do this to lingerie…great thought, but sometimes these things can end up as props at “half way night”. Instead, save that for homecoming.
You can also record a letter on a tape with a mini recorder. These take up little space and if you each have one, the husband can record messages for you. The tapes are small enough to send back and forth in a mail drop. Every command is different, so please check to see if it is allowed at yours before sending one.
Letters and cards are a given. You can write one a week, and for every holiday and special occasion. You can label some extras for in between moments like, “need a laugh”, “need some love”, “feeling blue”, etc. You can look up jokes and write them in the “need a laugh card”.
Calendars are a great way to count down the days at home and away. You can make a calendar or buy one, and add special dates, notes, and pictures. Use online sites to personalize your calendar with pictures, dates, and your own sayings and quotes. You can also fix up your husbands “pocket brain”. It’s that little note-book he keeps in his pocket. Write a message or put a picture every so many pages. If he uses a handheld, iPod, Zune, etc, upload some pictures or “your song”.
I usually send two boxes out with my husband. One is to open the first night away from home and the second is his half way box. Here is a quick list of commonly requested food items to consider: jerky, slim jims, trail mix, hot sauce, real coffee, hard pepperoni, sauces for food, instant soup, pop tarts, gum, hard candies, hot chocolate mix, tea, protein and energy bars, flavor packets for water, chocolate bars, and popcorn.
Here are some other items to fill “the box”. DVD’s, CD’s, Portable DVD player, MP3 Player, nice socks, books, magazines, newspapers, funny t-shirt, pajama pants, journals, a soft blanket, dryer sheets, febreze, holiday items, and of course, pictures and letters are a must! Get friends and family involved! Tell his family and friends to send you letters and pictures before he leaves to add to his box. Just remember OPSEC and don’t give out dates. Just give them a deadline to have things sent to you by and let them e-mail you letters as well. You can print them and put them in envelopes. Your sailor will be surprised and grateful.
My husband’s biggest problem is storage. You have to think about how much space he has. Ask him that first and then start on “the favorites”. I pay attention to favorite hard candies, so he can keep them in his pocket while on watch. Some watch stations are hot, so watch the chocolate stuff! We also get a foam topper for his bed, and nicer sheets. Guys might make fun of some soft satin like sheets . . . only until they have to get in their rack!
Anything to make his bed more comfortable is always a plus, also anything to “decorate” his rack. You can buy or make a rack curtain with pockets and places to put photos. They can never have enough velcro or sticky stuff to hang up things. Bath mats are good. It gives the guys something soft to step on when they get out or into their rack. How would you like to go months without stepping on carpet or grass!? One of the more popular things to make is a personalized pillowcase. You can put photos and messages on it. Kids love to make these for Dad.
While your husband is deployed, you can keep an ongoing letter that you add to a little every day so that when there is a mail drop, you have something to send without staying up all night writing. You can also have a “deployment box” at home where you keep everything that your husband missed out on. Our box is filled with report cards, artwork, pictures that didn’t get sent, announcements, etc. It is a great way for your husband to re-connect after deployment.
There are so many more things you can do. Start with asking your husband exactly what he wants. Ask your FRG to make a “master list” of ideas and share it. Talk to other wives, and most importantly, be creative!
List your deployment ideas below!!
If you have questions, comments, or topic ideas, I’d love to hear them! E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org