I wrote a post a few months back about 5 practical myths you’ll run into when sitting down to write a letter to your soldier in Basic Training. Unfortunately, there are more myths than just those 5. I even wrote about those. The truth is, many myths aren’t all as cut-and-dry as we would hope. There are a lot of emotional myths (welcome to life in the Army) and I’m here today to bust those.
Maybe I’m the only one, but separation and lack of communication are usually a recipe for self-doubt and overthinking everything. It’s easy to try to shoulder the “blame” because as Army wives, we are used to (or getting used to) stepping up to the plate. It’s a nice quality, but it has to be tempered with reason. If you haven’t been hearing from your soldier, or you have, but communications just feel “off,” it is likely you might start pointing fingers at yourself. Your letters are NOT to blame. Don’t submit to self-doubt, and definitely don’t begin to believe these common emotional lies:
1. My Letters are Getting Old
They aren’t. I know I haven’t read any of yours, but I can tell you, they aren’t getting old. Receiving a letter at Basic Training is like Christmas morning for the boys. You might be that girl that sends a letter once every few weeks, and to your soldier, those are gold. But if you are that girl who writes him every day (hi, everyone!) you might be wondering if you’re letters are getting old. They aren’t. In fact, there is an unspoken competition among the soldiers (generally) about who gets letters and how often. Not only will you give your soldier a pick-me-up, but you’ll stroke his ego in front of the guys. If you’re still in doubt, ask yourself this. Have his letters or phone calls gotten old? Are you sick of hearing from him? No. It works both ways.
2. My Letters are Too Long
Imagine being in a big hospital room with a bunch of other patients and their beds…the lights stay on and there is a continual chatter of noise. You’ve been given an hour to chill but you have nothing to do. You have no personal belongings to entertain yourself with–except a letter that just arrived. The longer, the better. This is how the soldiers (can) feel. They aren’t in hospital beds, but they are in big shared spaces with “free time” and nothing to do. Don’t shy away from writing long letters! It’s perfectly fine if you’re not a wordy person, just write in the length of style you’re comfortable with. But if you can write up several pages, go for it! Don’t hold back just because you are assuming your lengthy letters are annoying. They aren’t.
3. My Letters Aren’t Positive Enough, or They are Too Positive
It’s a fine line. You don’t want to gush about how great life is for you, because you know more than likely he isn’t having the time of his life. But you don’t want to write drippy and depressing letters because you want to boost his morale, not bring him down. It’s a personal preference thing, but I found that honesty is the very best course. If I was feeling down, I wrote about it. But I tried to balance it out with a positive story or occurrence from my day, to keep the letter from being a “downer.” Basic Training was just too long of a time span for me to “bite-the-bullet” and just push through emotional conflict. As newlyweds, I found it was vital to be 100% honest with my husband (and I still do!) because those first few months of marriage are a tender time to build communication skills. You can’t let Basic Training get in your way. Be honest and don’t overthink the positivity-level of your letters.
4. My Letters Just Depress Him
So, again, I haven’t read your letters. But do you have concrete proof that your letters are depressing him, or are you just assuming that? Try to remember that missing someone isn’t the same as never wanting to hear from them again. If your soldier has specifically told you that getting letters from home makes him extra homesick, then try to work on your style a bit. (see above) If you’ve been sending tons of “downer” letters, try to dial it back. Or if you’ve been sending extremely peppy letters about how amazing life is back on the ranch, maybe it’s making it harder for him to be away from all that. Whatever you do, don’t assume your letters are depressing him, unless he specifically tells you so.
5. My Letters Should Mirror His
Am I the only person who thinks this way? Sometimes there can be a communications-pressure to try to “stick” to whatever your soldier is doing. If he is opening up emotionally, you should swoop in with your own emotional update. If he seems down, your letters should be equally as “ho-hum” because you wouldn’t want him to feel like you guys are emotionally imbalanced. But I’m going to appeal to sticking with the truth again. Don’t feel bad if he is writing super detailed letters, or sleepy vague ones, or even self-examining monologues. Unless you talk in person identically, there is no need to write identical letters. It’s perfectly fine for him to be writing letters that dive heavily into what his daily training is like, while you stick to some fairly round-about updates on school and your job. Overthinking or manipulating your letters into some kind of mirror effect will only stress you out and keep you from freely speaking the truth.
Hopefully, none of these emotional myths EVER crossed your mind. Don’t let me put ideas in your head! But in case you are human and some of these slipped into your mind during those long Basic Training nights of separation, don’t feel like you’re the only one. Just know that there are hundreds of Army wives/fiancees/girlfriends going through all the same Basic Training nights with you. And there are many resources you can turn to, either for support or fellowship with people who are or have been in your shoes.
Now go write your soldier a letter!
**Are you doing it right? Read next: How to Address a Basic Training Letter**