Conducting a long distance relationship (like we all do from time to time in the military) means that a guy has to learn to love somebody without his hands. Long distance husbands have to do it with lips and tongue alone—from 6000 miles away.
This means saying more than “I love you.” This means saying the right words at the right time. Which can seem impossible to a servicemember—especially when the one they love is upset.
Since we know all of our long distance husbands actually do want to do the right thing, we asked our SpouseBuzz Facebook audience to tell us some of the magic words their servicemembers have used that make them feel better. Send our cheat sheet to your servicemember with our blessing and appreciation for all they do:
Tell me you are safe. When your servicemember is under fire or may be under fire or could possibly be in any danger of any kind, the best thing to hear is that your guy is all right. After an attack on Camp Bastion, Melissa Campbell loved getting a two word email: I’m OK. Reminders that “You know me, I’m always safe,” and “Don’t worry,” do pretty well in a pinch, too. Even if your safety isn’t 100%, a few words of reassurance go a long way.
Insist on The Fifty Year Plan. When servicemembers are smack dab in the middle of a deployment, it seems like the separation will last forever. So when I’m gnashing my teeth over the bazillion days we have been apart, my husband reminds me that this separation is temporary and that it really will end soon. He likes to tell me that we are on “The Fifty Year Plan” and that compared to the 50+ years we will be together, this deployment is nothing. Too true.
Thank you for letting me do this job. Milinda Rau and her husband have been married more than 20 years. She says that there are two sets of magic words “Thank you” and “I couldn’t do this without you.” It’s amazing how giving your partner a bit of credit for the peace of mind you have while deployed is empowering.
We got this, Babe. Lori Lynn Powell likes to hear her husband say, “We got this, Babe.” I would like to hear that too. It evokes the idea of “we” and “us” and “ours.” All magic words when we have to be apart.
Bring on the details. Sometimes it isn’t the words you say, it is the volume of words you use. Use a lot. Lindsey Ritenour said she appreciates, “Just being detailed about his days and keeping me in the loop.” When every day is a Groundhog Day, it is hard for a servicemember to think up details. Still, throw a gal a verbal bone. I want to hear what you ate for lunch. I want to hear about what your sergeant said to you. I want to hear that you dreamed about me in the night—even if you didn’t.
Quote a favorite song. Lori Craig says the magic words she wants to hear are “I’m already there.” It reminds me of that Lonestar song when the wife wishes the guy was here and he says: I‘m already there/ Don’t make a sound/I’m the beat in your heart/I’m the moonlight shinin’ down. Sometimes a song can work a lot more magic than mere words. Some guys work the song thing better than others. Debbie Sell writes, “My husband has been posting weekly long distance dedications like Casey Kasem used to, to me on Facebook, each song is related to something that I had done that week or a memory that we have. It’s been so wonderful to hear how amazing he thinks I am holding down the fort while he is away.”
I miss you just as much as you miss me. Some guys hear “I miss you” and they bristle. They think these words are some kind of code for “You have to come home now.” Instead, servicemembers need to hear these words as a kind of vibration. Researchers have found that people greatly fear being forgotten—that’s why you have that little vibrating box when you wait in line at the Longhorn or Olive Garden. “I miss you” is sometimes a vibration wondering if you have forgotten what we have together.
Nothing is more important to me than you are. Sarah Ayers wrote that one time she was talking to her husband on Skype and crying. “A Sergeant came to tell him something. He basically yelled at him and told him his crying wife was more important then something the Sergeant could take care of.” A deployment naturally demands the most attention from a service member. So it is so good to hear that sometimes your needs do trump the military.
You are doing a good job. Unless they are married to an active duty deploying servicemember themselves, most Marines, Coasties, sailors, soldiers, and airmen have no idea how overwhelming running the household alone can be. Most of the time it feels like you are not, in fact, doing a good job because there is always still so much to do. Having the person you care about most in the world assure you that you are exceeding expectations matters so much.
The Number One Most Perfect Secret Magic Phrase Of All Time. The words our readers want to hear most from their long distance husbands? Take your pick from the following: “I’m coming home.” “My plane to take me home is here. I will see you soon. “I’m on my way, leaving here tomorrow.” “Hi, Honey. I’m home.”