Deployment List

Today, when looking at my blog’s dashboard, I found someone had been directed here after typing in the following search:

why do all the other wives get phone cal

(That’s all that showed up, but it says enough.)

“Why do all the other wives get phone calls” … and I don’t? Probably.

I’ve heard of military spouses (or those with a significant other deployed, married or not) comparing how often they hear from their deployed service member to how often others hear from theirs, and every time I do, I feel a little uneasy. It’s unsettling to think how much someone hears from someone else during a deployment can turn into a competition. It’s unsettling to think those not hearing from someone as often as someone else is hearing from someone can cause such worry and insecurity.

Of course it does, though. Almost anything that can cause worry and insecurity during a deployment will.

Whoever you are, if you’re still out there trying to find out why you’re not getting as many phone calls from Iraq or Afghanistan as someone else is, there are many possible reasons for this:

1. The person calling (or writing) is less busy than the person not calling (writing).

2. The person calling more often simply needs to call more often.

3. The person calling less often may not like the limited time allotted, the people waiting behind him/her for the phone, the delays that make conversation awkward, or all of the above. (Ian and I experienced this – he called only once in a while, and both of us were fine with that because the stilted conversations could be more frustrating than not talking at all.)

4. The person calling more often has better access to phones.

5. The person calling more often isn’t really into writing emails and would rather talk on the phone.

There’s enough to worry about during a deployment as it is. To add worry about the frequency (or lack thereof) of phone calls may be a welcome distraction from worrying about the bigger, more obvious things, but it can also nag at your perception of your relationship, can chip away at your opinion of the person you love, and can only add more stress – because that other fear, the big one, won’t go away no matter how many smaller stresses you can find to pile on top of it.

None of this is to say relationship problems don’t happen during deployments, or that in a few cases, emails and phone calls might slow down for other, more complicated and less innocuous, reasons. But what I learned when Ian deployed was that they will write when they can, they’ll call when it makes sense to call, and not calling or not writing for a certain period of time or with a certain frequency doesn’t have to mean anything. Sometimes, Ian wouldn’t call even when he could, even when no one was in line for the phone, just because he was tired and had nothing to say. Or maybe someone had been sent a movie a bunch of the guys were going to watch on someone’s laptop – in other words, live a day of welcomed normalcy.

When this happens, home isn’t forgotten. The people  left behind aren’t forgotten. And an email or a phone call will come later, when full attention can be given to it, and when it’s natural instead of forced.

If you’re worried there’s a reason behind the lack of phone calls you’re receiving, don’t be afraid to ask about it. It’s much better to talk about it with the person not calling than to imagine any number of disturbing and emotionally draining reasons you can come up with on your own. (I’m particularly good at that kind of thing.)

Hope you’re well,

K

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Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Wow … this really makes me feel sad for the person who did that search. I hope that you’ve reassured her.

    Reply
  2. Wow – this is right on the money! I really needed to read something like this. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I don’t know… it must be the holidays.

    Reply
  3. Hi Kristen,

    Know what you mean about long distance: I’m in Malaysia, my mum is in Spain and my bro in Saudi. No bombs (well, at least not many in Madrid anymore) but the distance thing can be annoying. Hooray for Skype!

    Reply
  4. I think it is normal for wives to worry when they don’t hear from their husbands, especially when they are in a combat zone, as mine is currently. It doesn’t seem fair that some of the guys are always on the FOB, with access to phones, e-mails, running water, ect., while others are living out of their truck for weeks at a time. (I guess you can tell from my tone which group my husband is in this time!) People who’ve never experienced combat deployment have no point of reference, and it’s easy to label someone as “insecure” when they are concerned about not hearing from their spouse– easy, that is, if you’ve never gone for more than a week or up to two months without any communication from your spouse.

    Reply

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About Kris Tsetsi

Kristen J. Tsetsi is the author of the novels "Pretty Much True..." and "The Year of Dan Palace" and the short fiction collection "20 Short Stories," all published under the name Chris Jane. Website: http://kristenjtsetsi.com

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