Books to Read When Your SO is Deployed

…or at bootcamp, or living in another place, or super busy with military life.

These are the books that I read during long stretches of absence, when I need to find comfort in something small. Some of them are fiction, some are not. Some are self help, some are not. I figure it’s good to read a little bit of everything. Because military SO’s need all the help we can get.

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1. How to be Married by Jo Piazza
You don’t have to be married to get the fruits of Piazza’s bare-it-all narrative, but it doesn’t hurt. She goes into the nitty gritty of what it means to choose one person, and then she explores what that means to different cultures. Ultimately, How to be Married shows that there’s no One Way to be together, just do do your best. I’m currently reading this one.

2. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer
Communication is Hard when your SO isn’t there to talk to face to face. Palmer is an expert at asking for what she wants, and she’s very keen to teach you how in this touching memoir about the music business and art for arts sake. “I trust you this much. Should I? Show me.”

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3. Rising Strong by Brene Brown
Brene Brown has her PhD in vulnerability. Okay, not literally. But she should. This book is super important because it shows us how to rumble with the stories we make up for ourselves, especially the ones based on fear and distance. It’ll teach you how to communicate the stories to your significant other.

4. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Historical, unbelievable, and a true hero’s journey. Sometimes, it’s nice to read about those who came before our SO’s and survived. Admittedly, this one is a bit harrowing, so maybe try it when you know your SO is home and safe if you’re concerned for their safety.

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5. Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
This one I think is particularly great for Navy SO’s. It’s got time travel, sailing, action, romance. Mostly, it’s a great escape from missing someone. But as someone who loves a sailor, that aspect was really fun for me.

6. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Do you remember how you fell in love with your SO? All the butterflies in your stomach, the wondering if they felt the same. Those first kisses… This book is sure to remind you of that. Rainbow Rowell is queen of romance in my eyes, and she’s really great at conjuring that “falling in love” feeling.

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Lessons from Loving a Sailor


I’ve had this list in my drafts since my first experience with deployment. With another one impending, I thought I’d finally publish it.

1. His job always comes first.

Changes in military scheduling will always trump prior plans. Dates tend to change often, and as an SO I just have to roll with them. I want to whine and complain so bad because even when he’s home I have to let him go so often. But I don’t because I know he’s just doing his job.

2. He comes second.

I can describe my boyfriend in one word around deployment time: tired. He works so many hours and gets little sleep so time with me ends up more than often being cuddle and fall asleep time. It’s easy to feel jilted from quality time (especially combined with my first point) when he gets like this, but I have to remind myself that this is what he needs. And loving him means putting his needs before my own.

3. Homecomings are wonderful, but they’re hard.

When he came back from our first deployment as a couple, I remember feeling so happy to have him home, but also out of place from not having seen him in months. I had to get used to having him around again. And he had to get used to being home again. It took some time, but it was totally worth it.

4. Communication takes discipline.

During deployments, I try to write every day just so I can have something to hold onto. It keeps our connection alive when we can’t talk on the phone or see each other in person. It gets hard when he doesn’t respond for weeks at a time, but I keep it up as best I can because I know it will benefit both of us in the long run.

5. You’ll surprise yourself with what love will allow you to handle.

I never thought I’d date someone in the military. I thought long separations were too much for me to handle. They’ve been hard for sure, but there’s so much love in my heart for my man that serves and I’m so proud when I can be his rock on a hard day. Love trumps all of these difficulties. I can’t imagine my life without him, even just missing him.