Military wives' 21 best tips for dealing with a spouse's deployment

How do military wives shoulder the enormous responsibility and inevitable sacrifices that come with being a military wife? Here they share their 21 best tips:

1. Hang tough. "I'm stronger now when he's gone, and I don't focus as much on being left here, though I do have bouts of loneliness and frustration. I try to keep myself busy. Writing him emails helps. I get to yell at him even though he's not here."—gargoyle89

2. Keep busy. "The very first night he's gone, I'm out of my mind with sadness. I just cry all night and hug something that smells like him. After the first week or so, I start getting busy with my own thing. A typical day with my husband gone: Go to work, go to school, go to the gym and work on my Website until bedtime. I also set goals for finishing things, saving money and getting in shape."—kelnelmo

3. Call on your friends. "At first it's a little taste of freedom since we don't have any kids. It was nice having the house all to myself without having him flip through the channels on the TV or other silly stuff. But by that first night I was very lonely. I had some really terrific friends and they were always there for the rough patches."—flyp3navy

4. Remember your promise. "The most common emotion is one of being overwhelmed. With the kids and the house and no help and no relief in sight, it's often really hard to keep from being completely overwhelmed. But I'm a military wife. I knew the job description when I married him, so I feel like I don't have any right to complain."—hollydawner

5. Throw a pity party. "I always experience loneliness. I deal with my feelings by giving myself permission to be 'depressed.' I take off from work the first day he is gone. I stay in my pajamas all day, eat microwavable food or order in, watch daytime TV and stay up as late as I want. The next morning I get up and get back to my normal routine."—armylola

6. Be prepared. "Get as much stuff taken care of ahead of time, so you are as prepared as you can be. Learn to ask for help (I really have trouble with this one). Line up some visits to family and friends to help pass time and give you something to look forward to."—seamour

7. Face your feelings. "Take things one day at a time. And let all your emotions run their course. You are going to have good days, and you are going to have horrible days. When you feel like crying, cry. When you feel like you are on top of the world, you are. When the going gets tough, look for something humorous about what is making life hard at the time. Laughter is a wonderful medicine."—izzyandalexsmommy

8. Be realistic. "Don't set impossible goals. Remember that nothing is set in stone. Six months can turn to seven, and he misses you as much as you miss him."—pandabr74

9. Accept a helping hand. "I learned to accept and, yes, sometimes even ask for help from others. Find a support group, be it online (my option) or a family support group (I would if there was one nearby)."—seamour

10. Do not drown your sorrows. "I would go out with friends (fellow deployment widows) on Friday nights and have a few beers, and then on Sundays I'd try to figure out why I couldn't stop crying! I then remembered that alcohol is a depressant, and it wasn't conducive to me being 'happy girl.' So, I became more careful about the amount of alcohol I consumed."—flyp3navy

11. Stay healthy. "Eat right. It's tempting, while your husband is gone, to snack and not eat well, but you need the best nutrition to help keep your mental state on an even keel."—hollydawner

12. Trust each other. "My husband and I have not always had the perfect marriage, and we've had some serious trust issues in the past. The trust issue presents a huge problem with deployments, and is one of the big sources of pre-deployment arguments. But I just try to keep my husband informed at all times, and he tries to express his fears reasonably instead of with snide remarks. As a result, we often have excellent communication during deployments and always make it through okay."—hollydawner

13. Find yourself. "You have to have a life aside from your husband. You just have to, whether it's kids, a job, friends or a hobby. I have actually known a few women who relied on their husbands completely for their happiness. That won't work. You have to have something to do, something you care about, and try to stay busy!"—kelnelmo

14. Keep your routine. "I have learned not to get upset over the pending deployments. There is really nothing I can do to stop them. I try to keep home life as normal as I can for my children."—countryvic

15. Stay strong. "I'm a pretty independent woman, so that's what has helped me—I believe—get through deployments. I still send my man off with lots of love and smiles and reassurances that I can handle the affairs at home, so he need not worry about us."—reeseccup

16. Keep your husband posted. "I write letters to my husband every day (we don't have access to phones or email this time) detailing what our daughter did that day, so he will feel like he's part of her day-to-day life. I take lots of photos of our daughter to send to him. It's difficult because at times it feels like our lives are 'on hold' until he returns."—erinnicolevan

17. Become a boardie. "I keep in contact with other women through message boards, and that helps me remember I'm not doing this alone."—gargoyle89

18. Work out. "It goes faster when I'm thinking, 'I only have three more months to get a body like Britney Spears (ha, ha)!'"—kelnelmo

19. Stay active. "I have found it vital to have at least one regularly scheduled activity while my husband is gone. It becomes something to look forward to each week, which gives me little milestones along the way."—lizzbert2000

20. Be proud. "I remember that he is gone not because he wants to be away from me, but because he is a terrific person and is dedicating his life to serving his country."—flyp3navy

21. Focus on other things. "Keep your chin up. Find things to keep your mind off your loneliness. But avoid sappy movies, unless you need a good cry."—reeseccup

A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.