I’m going to start this post off by saying that I am in no way telling anyone what they should or should not do. As with most things in the life of a military family, deciding whether to stay at your duty station or to move back home while your spouse deploys is an incredibly personal decision. These are just my thoughts based on my personal experience and what my husband and I have decided to do this time around….
About seven months ago, I was driving to visit family in Washington state while my husband was off training (again!). Literally as I pulled up to my in-law’s house, I got a call from my husband. He had just had a chat with his new battalion commander who informed him that he would be keeping him for their deployment in early 2016. We had been planning on moving to a new duty station around the time they would be deploying and neither of us was thrilled at the fact that our plan to PCS had just been squashed. But if I’ve learned nothing else during our time in the army, I’ve learned that things never go the way you plan.
Now, I never thought I would be the type of army wife who would run home to her parents as soon as my husband left (not that there is anything wrong with that of course). But when my husband asked me if I wanted to move back home while he was deployed, I just couldn’t say no. There is a lot to consider of course, and it is an incredibly difficult and personal decision. Here are 7 things to consider when deciding whether or not to move back home during a deployment…
How long will your spouse be gone? If your spouse is only going to be gone for like three months, it may not be worth it to pack everything up and move (or maybe it would be). But for nine, twelve, or fifteen months, it could definitely be worth the extra work and stress of moving to a new place temporarily. My husband is deploying for nine months and that was long enough to make it worth it all for me. Nine months is a long time to spend by yourself…
Do you have a fulfilling career that requires you to be in a certain location? Having somewhere to go day in and day out where there are people to interact with and where you can do work that makes you feel fulfilled can be incredibly helpful when your spouse is gone. Not only does it provide you with some much needed human interaction, but it also provides something to focus on to keep your mind off of missing your husband. Now that I work from home and don’t get a whole lot of human interaction, it is a bit of an extra struggle for me when my husband is gone because I spend SO much time alone. Also, if your job requires you to stay where you are, that kind of kills any dreams of moving somewhere else if you’d like to keep your job. I’m fortunate enough to have a flexible job that I can do from anywhere so this was not a factor for me.
Will you still need a place to live when your spouse gets back? If you still have several years left wherever you are stationed, it could be a pain in the butt to move out, only to have to move back in somewhere else when your spouse returns from deployment. In our case, we should be moving within a month after my husband returns so our stuff will just stay in storage until we move again. I can deal with living in a hotel for a few weeks. No biggy.
Do you have kids? If so, how would another (temporary) move affect them? We don’t have kids, but my husband was an army brat and I know that moving all the time can be hard on them. I mean, it’s hard on adults so of course it’s hard on kids too. So it’s important to consider how disruptive an extra move would be. Do the benefits of being closer to family while their daddy or mommy is gone outweigh having to pull them out of school and take them away from their friends and their normal environment? That of course is up to you! Again, since we don’t have kids, this wasn’t a factor for us. In fact, my dogs love hanging out in California and they’ll have four extra hands to love on them (my parents).
Do you have a community of people that will provide you with support throughout the deployment? This was a big factor for me. You see, while I have friends here of course, I don’t feel that I have enough of a support group to truly be okay on my own for these next nine months. I know for next time that I need to make more of an effort to put myself out there and really plug into a community. If that’s something you have where you are, then maybe you’d be okay staying put. If not, then going somewhere where you will have that support and companionship that you need in order to not feel alone may be a good idea.
Are you willing to pack up everything and move yourself? I’m not sure how it works in every situation, but for my husband’s current deployment, the military isn’t paying for anyone to move unless they are a single soldier living in the barracks. So unless you’re willing to pack up your whole house and move it into storage yourself, staying put would probably be your best bet. I suppose you could leave all your stuff in your current place and just take what you need with you wherever you would be going, but then you’d miss out on all that BAH (basic allowance for housing) and that would be a shame. It’s always nice to make a little extra change each month 😉
What do you feel is best for your family? Ultimately this is what matters. Not your job situation, not how much money you’d save, not what anyone else in your situation is doing. Only you know what is best for you and your family so only you can decide what is best.
Based on all these factors, my husband and I came to the conclusion that it would be best for us if I (and the puppies) went to stay with my parents in California while he is deployed. So last week we packed up our whole house and moved everything into a storage unit where it will live until we PCS (move) next fall. And in less than two weeks I’ll be pulling out of here with my dogs and a trailer full of the crap I’ll need over the next nine months and heading to sunny southern California. Of course I’m super sad that my husband is leaving and I will miss him terribly while he is gone, but I am really excited about this next little chapter of my life. And I feel very fortunate to have had this to look forward to during the last couple of months, instead of just having to dread him leaving.
So for all my fellow military spouses out there, what I want to say is that there is no shame in going home when your spouse deploys. It doesn’t make you any less strong or any less of a military spouse. You just need to do what is best for you and your family. If that’s staying, great. If that’s leaving, that’s fine too. This isn’t an easy life we lead as military families, and so much is completely out of our control. All we can do is try to stay positive and always make the best of our situation.
In vibrant health,