**This was written for a Sub Base Paper, but you can interpret it however needed for any other rate or branch. 🙂
This for all the Submariners who need a little help getting creative. So guys, imagine dotted lines around this column because you will want to cut it out and keep a copy in your wallet to reference when needed. This could give you some major brownie points. Men and women are very different when it comes to expressing their feelings. Guys don’t sit around while at work talking about the most thoughtful thing their wife has ever done, or how it made them feel inside. So, it only makes sense that it is hard for you to come up with thoughtful gestures and understand just how much it means to us.
The first rule for any man to follow is that it is truly the little things that mean a lot. Anyone can go to the jewelry store and pick out something that sparkles. But, not as many plan an evening, make something themselves, or pay attention to details. So here is your cheat sheet for deployments. Let’s start small. Writing letters and notes may seem simple, but how do you fill up the space when you are not a “writer of feelings kinda guy”. Easy, buy the cards that say what you can’t seem to write and just add-on with your own words. This takes off the pressure to write pages of mushy stuff. Leave cards and notes around the house in drawers, cabinets, and places she will find them over time. Give your wife pictures! You like to have pictures of your wife, why wouldn’t she want the same? Take one of yourself lying on your pillow as if you were asleep. Print it and place it on your side of the bed so that she will find it once you have left. Videos are another great way to stay connected.
Make a video message for your wife. There are many nights she wishes that she could see your face or hear your voice. This is a great remedy. You can also buy the mini tape recorders and record some messages. You can make one labeled for “bed time”, “having a bad day”, and “need a laugh”. Next, I know that not all women love stuffed animals, but go to Build a Bear and make her something with your voice recorded in it. It can be silly or serious. And even if your wife isn’t into the “cute stuff”, she will love the mental image of you in Build a Bear picking it all out and going through the “adoption process”.
Make sure that you look at the calendar before leaving and take care of any holidays, birthdays, or anniversaries that you will be missing. If you can’t buy the holiday card yet, make one. Again, the thought is more important than the gift. Flowers are always fun to receive. But, did you know that you can plan for them to be sent while you’re underway!? You can go to your local base flower shop, or online and set up for future deliveries.
If you really want to do something new and to surely give your wife a smile, go to www.yournovel.com. This is a site that writes your love story. All you have to do is answer some simple questions and provide an optional picture of your wife and yourself. You can even chose the level of intensity in the book by selecting “Wild” or “Mild”. It’s a lot of fun and your wife will get something she can hold onto forever. Has your wife ever told you that you don’t talk enough!? Yeah, I know. We can be sooo demanding! So here is the fix. Go to www.questionsforcouples.com and you will find a book titled “1000 Questions for Couples”. If your main source of communication during deployments is by email, you can ask 2-4 questions at a time and it will take you years to get through the book. The cool thing is that you are actually getting to know each other better and your wife will love that you are engaging in conversation instead of asking about what she is wearing.
Just as I told the wives to put themselves in their husband’s shoes, you have to do the same. Remember that your wife loves you and that she is waiting for you. Be sensitive to her feelings and start with the small things. Hand her a tissue and a note to read when saying your goodbyes. Leave things for her like your favorite sweatshirt that you wore the days before leaving so it smells like you. Leave your cologne for her to spray on your pillow. Don’t forget about half way. Make your wife a half way box filled with her favorite candy, scented bath oils, a book she would like, photos, or anything else we talked about above.
A great idea is to get family, friends, and neighbors involved. Have someone drop off a gift, letter, or flowers every so many days or weeks. This keeps her guessing and gives her something to look forward to. Don’t be afraid to ask your wife what she needs and wants. You may be surprised by the answers you get. My husband will kill me for announcing that my favorite gift of all time is not the beautiful jewelry, or the expensive flowers. It was a book he made me titled, “The Story of Our Life”. He made it by cutting up tons of magazines and pasting the pictures on paper that was tied like a book. He gave me the story over 10 years ago and I still pull it out every patrol and read through it. It really is the best gift he has given me and it didn’t cost him a thing. Well, maybe his pride now that I told the world! It just proves that it is the little things that make can make a huge impact. Good Luck!