Decision Making from Around the Globe
With every event in life, preparation is key, and deployment is no different. Hopefully, the checklist is complete, with powers of attorney signed, and a family emergency plan in place. Many families also take the time to think about methods of communication such as Skype or Facetime, but fewer set the groundwork for productive joint decision making. Deployment is not always the best time to make large family decisions, but unforeseen events that require joint consideration can always pop up. The best outcomes result from a resolution where both spouses have a say and feel like their voice was heard. Here are a few tips to help you write the decision-making playbook for the next few months.
Plan it out before they ship out…
How do you plan on adjusting family finances with the extra pay? Who will be the emergency contact for the spouse at home? Have essential household planning conversations before your military member departs. Today’s prolific communication mediums make it seem like life can move forward without skipping a beat, but communication from different parts of the world can still be marred by time differences and current experiences. Being home with the kids every day may give you a far different perspective than time in a deployed location on any number of issues. Knowing the answers to the common issues that come up for most families beforehand and being in agreement on those issues will reduce the likelihood of stressful conversations.
Keep a pad by the phone so you don’t forget!
How many times have you gotten off the phone, suddenly remembering that one thing you really needed to discuss? Keep a pad by the phone so you can write down points to cover throughout the day or on days between phone calls. Not only will this help you cover the bases when you do connect, but it will also help you to organize your thoughts, so your time can be spent talking about more enjoyable things than broken appliances or bills. However, remember to give your military member some time to process your points before expecting an answer. I say this from experience. During our early deployments, I would get ahead of the conversation before I considered that I had been honing my arguments all week, while my husband was considering a topic for the first time.
Technology can be tricky.
Something as simple as a comma can change the meaning of a sentence. Think “let’s eat Grandma”, versus “let’s eat, Grandma”. Two very different meanings separated by punctuation. This is an extreme example to remind us that continents are far larger than a comma, so the misunderstandings via text or email can be even greater. If you are upset about a text or email, ask before you assume the worst. Above all, remember that even the people responsible for communication downrange want to talk to their families. If the WIFI is down or communication is interrupted be patient and use that day to write a letter, which is always a welcome surprise to your military member downrange.
Hopefully, these tips will make your Facetime/Messenger/Skype call the highlight of your day!