Separation in the military happens more often than we’d like, and is not always due to deployment. Whether your loved one is leaving for BMT, MOS School, deployment, or training, one thing that helps you keep your mind off of it is planning some fun activities.Before Kyle left for training I made a huge list of things we wanted to do before he left, that way we would have special memories to think back on, and get us through that tough time.
First, get yourself a disposable camera or two (just in case). Rules are you have to take 1 picture at each event/activity that you have planned. These can later be sent back and forth, or you can use them for some other crafty ideas like a shadow box or scrapbook. Second, figure out how much time you have together. This part is always the worst, because it really puts things in perspective. And third, start making your list! Here’s some ideas that I had on mine.
1. Movie NightThis is one of my favorites. Get on your comfy clothes, or even dress things up if you want, and just relax together. It doesn’t matter what day of the week it is, or what you’re having for dinner; just pick some great movies and laugh together. This is a good chance to have a break from thinking about the oncoming separation. Kyle and I did a Fast & Furious movie marathon, which we both loved.
2. Have a picnic
This serves as a great opportunity to talk about your worries and concerns, and to reflect on how far you’ve come together. Don’t use this time to wallow in the thoughts of being apart, because not everything needs to be about that. Talk about your plans for when they come back, and your future after that. Talk about the good and the bad; even the things that are hard to say. You’ll leave feeling reconnected, and with a much better understanding of each other’s needs.
3. Go for a hikeBefore Kyle left we hiked Tuckerman’s Ravine of Mount Washington for the first time together, and it was incredible. It’s a hard climb, but there was something very fitting about climbing a mountain together before he left. Little did we know, we were about to climb a much larger one.
Fitness has always been a huge part of our relationship, so it was important that we went on this adventure together for many reasons. When we got to the ravine, which is about 4.5 miles up, it was too foggy and icy to hike the whole thing without getting hurt. So we sat in the ravine for a while and just talked. It was one of my favorite memories with him, even today. A few months later while he was in training, I hiked it with a good friend and yet again, we were unable to go to the top. But it was amazing how different things were the second time.
4. Dedicate one whole day to doing something that the other loves This one was kinda funny for us because it really highlights how different we are. It was a Saturday in the middle of April and it was Kyle’s turn to pick what he wanted to do, and after it would be my turn. He chose going to the range and shooting guns all day, of course. I have shot guns many times, but never with Kyle, so he taught me some new things and we practiced all of the safety functions.
I think back on this day so often. It was still fairly chilly out, and the dandelions were starting to bloom into white fuzzy tufts. Every time the wind blew, the dandelion seeds took flight, and it looked like snow all around us. I can still picture all of it now.
5. Pick out a gift for each otherIt doesn’t have to be anything crazy or expensive, just find something that’s truly special, useful, and meaningful to that person. Sometimes it’s challenging to find something that they will be able to take with them due to the restrictions of what you can wear/have. If this becomes too much of an issue, find something to surprise them with when they get back.
Before Kyle left I got him a G-Shock watch which was solar powered, so he could time his runs and not have to worry about the batteries dying. Luckily, he’s able to wear the watch in uniform so it ended up being the perfect gift! My gift from Kyle was a Alex and Ani Army charm bracelet, which I had wanted for a while. I wore my bracelet every day (and still do) and I was always comforted in knowing that even hundreds of miles apart, he was wearing his gift too.
6. Revisit the first place you met
When a huge part of your life together changes, it’s easy to feel like you’re losing grips on the entire thing. One thing that helped me was going back to where it all started, and reminding myself of how far we had come. It helped me to see that the changes that were happening were amazing strides for us as individuals and as a couple. Rather than just seeing the down sides to those changes, I was able to see where they would take us.
I met Kyle at a resort where we were both working at the time, long before he joined the military. Sometimes I think back to those days and wonder about the many ways we could’ve missed each other in passing, or shown up a few minutes late during those few weeks. I wonder about all the ways our paths could’ve veered off, and where we would be otherwise. It definitely made me reflect on our love for each other, and the many reasons I’m grateful that life led us here.
7. Have some fun with a photo shoot
This was one of the ideas that we unfortunately didn’t have time for, but it is definitely something I would still try to do today. Photo shoots are such a simple and meaningful way to look back on those special memories together. You can make it a military photo shoot, or just a couples shoot; either way you’ll be able to put your own personal touch on all of the little details.
8. Money-saving plan
Pick something you really want to do together when you’re reunited, and make a plan to save towards it. It could be a vacation, or a home, or even your dream wedding. Making a solid plan to save together will relieve a lot of the stresses that finances can cause, and it’ll truly pay off in the end when you finally get to do something fun without too much worry!
What are some activities you did with your loved one before they deployed? Any recommendations?