Chances are, if you are reading this article you currently have a deployed spouse or one that will deploy or leave for an extended period of time in the future. And chances are, you’re nervous and wondering what you are going to do with all your free time. How do I know this? Because I have been there! My friend, so many of us have been there.
Nothing can replace the relationship you have with your spouse. Nothing someone does or says can fill that void you feel when you sleep alone and wake up alone (or in my case with my 75 pound dog). But can I tell you one thing that can make it feel a little less burdensome? Making friends and doing stuff with them.
I frequently tell people who don’t understand what it’s like to make new friends every 1-3 years that is very much like speed dating. Y’all understand that, right? Well, we are thrown into a new place and sometimes our spouses deploy only one month after getting somewhere new. That’s tough! So the ability to make new friends is a God-send. It’s difficult. I get it. You aren’t going to click with everyone you meet right off the bat, but growing relationships can be just as wonderful as making instant best friends.
I had a college roommate my freshman year who I thought was going to be my best friend. We would go to go to football games, eat meals in the buffet dinning commons, the whole nine yards. Yet I received none of that from her. She was totally shut down to meeting new people and opening up to a potential friendship that could have been lifelong. What am I getting at? Don’t be that person! Don’t shut down just because you are in a new situation and are a worry-wart about your spouse. (I can say that because that’s me every time my spouse leaves).
If you are short on ideas on what to do with your old and potential new friends at your current location, here are five activities that I have done and LOVED doing with my friends here in Washington during deployments.
- Host a fun themed night.
- Sign up for an Information Tickets & Travel or Outdoor Recreation trip.
- Host a squadron/unit spouse potluck dinner.
- Explore your town.
- Enjoy popular community/tourist activities.
Taco Tuesday, Wine Wednesday, Bachelor/Bachelorette Monday…friends, the opportunities are endless. All you need is a little bit of bravery and Pinterest and you have yourself a wonderful night with your buddies, old and new. I once hosted a Wine Wednesday with canvas painting at my house that my friends loved. Even though some didn’t drink and some had their spouses home, they came to my fun theme night. Just throw out the invitation and they will come!
Most likely you are stationed at a base that has either an Information Tickets & Travel (ITT) or an Outdoor Recreation (ODR) office. They offer really fun trips at discounted prices. I have gone horseback riding, whitewater rafting, and bike riding. There is something available for everyone. Go check it out and get signed up on one.
This is a great way to meet new people in your spouses’ squadron/unit who are in the same boat as you. The best way to get support from people during a tough season in your life is to meet people who understand what you are going through. And folks, you have direct access to them. You need not look far to find them. Invite them over for dinner and you won’t regret it.
What an amazing opportunity it is that we get to move around the country and the world! Don’t let the majority of time in one place be spent in your home. Get out there and explore. Whether your thing is checking out new restaurants, going on a hike, or shopping at boutiques, there is someplace new in your town that you haven’t explored, I guarantee it. And chances are, your friends haven’t either. Go on and grab your buddy and never stop exploring.
Whether you are in a big city like Washington, D.C. or in a small border town like Del Rio, TX (I’ve been there so I can relate to y’all in small towns!) there are community events going on. Stop by your local or installation library for a list of usually free events happening right outside the front gate. I recently attended a Young Life fundraising dinner with some amazing couples from my church and went to Oktoberfest with a friend. There are organizations outside the military world and they have a lot of cool stuff going on.
Be sure to nurture your friendships while your spouses are home and away. They will make all the difference in the present and the future.
What do you enjoy doing with your friends while your spouse is away?