There are moments in military life where we all need encouragement. Military spouses face constant challenges. Some are enormous—like a long deployment or an unexpected PCS move. But other struggles are smaller, are faced quietly, and are often kept in the shadows. Because military life is difficult to understand from the outside, many military spouses don’t have a trusted friend to turn to when they face the minor inconveniences of military life.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear an encouraging message from a friend whenever we needed it most?
If you have ever spent a long time apart from your service member—during a deployment, training, or a long-distance relationship—then maybe you have written “Open When” letters for them to open when they need them the most. Popular topics for military spouses to include in Open When letters are “Open When It’s Your Birthday,” “Open When You Really Miss Me,” or “Open When You’re Mad at Me.” These treasured items can be left sealed in a bundle in their sea bag, until the day when they need an encouraging word from home. And then the letter is sitting there waiting to bring a smile and brighten their day. When my husband was on deployment #7, I finally started to wonder:
“Who writes letters for the military spouses? Where can we read an encouraging message when we need it?”
Military spouses need all the strength and encouragement we can get during this military journey. There were so many times during my husband’s two decades of service that I have felt alone, confused, not sure how to take the next step. I wanted to make that path easier and less confusing to my fellow military spouses, so no one would ever feel like they had to suffer through military life alone.
I wrote a book to support all military spouses
Three years ago, I decided to create a book that would contain encouraging messages for military spouses to open and read throughout their military journey—all the way from basic training to retirement! I thought about all the moments I could have used friendly advice or a kind word. I gathered the encouraging messages I had previously written to my fellow military spouses, on my blog and in my Facebook group for deployment support. And then… I rewrote them for YOU.
At first, I wrote the letters infrequently, as topics came up in my own life. We were going through a deployment and were anticipating our next PCS move, so those sections were easy to write. But once my manuscript draft had been accepted by Elva Resa Publishing of Military Family Books, then my writing took on a more intentional schedule. With my editor and publisher, I brainstormed letters that military spouses needed to hear, even if I hadn’t personally faced that exact challenge. I pushed myself to research and write about the challenges new military spouses and significant others face right now, which have changed slightly since I started dating my husband twenty-one years ago! We chose the title, Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses.
When I was writing, I focused on the message I would share if a close milspouse friend of mine were going through that letter’s topic. If we were sitting at a coffee shop together and they voiced a specific struggle they were facing, how would I respond? What encouraging words would they need to hear? What stories or images could I share that might inspire them? If I were in that situation, what acknowledgement or advice would I need from a friend? After years of listening and supporting thousands of military spouses in my “Handle Deployment Like a Boss” FB group, I was familiar with the personal, emotional challenges that are common among military spouse and significant others.
Letters to “Open When” you need them most
I wrote letters for brand new military girlfriends and boyfriends, who feel confused and overwhelmed about many things in military life and don’t know which of their emotions are “normal” for someone in a relationship with a service member. I wrote letters for “seasoned spouses,” who have plenty of experience with PCS moves and deployments, and now just feel worn out and exhausted as they approach retirement. There are letters about the emotional roller coaster of military life, that could be useful at various stages of the journey. Topics such as “Open When the Military Throws You Curve Balls,” “You Don’t Feel Welcome,” or “Your Marriage Needs Extra Encouragement” are messages that I hope will inspire military spouses again and again.
Because my husband is still active duty, military life didn’t give me any breaks while I was working on the book. We ended up PCSing twice while I was writing the draft. I had baby #5 just a few months before I submitted the manuscript to my publisher. And then the year of COVID quarantines affected me, my publisher, and the entire book industry. I worked on final edits while my husband was away for a few weeks of training. And I ended up launching the book from a small military base in Mississippi that I didn’t even know existed when I first started writing it! For a few years now, every time the military gave us another surprise, my husband would jokingly say, “See, I’m just giving you extra material for your book!”
“Open When” is a perfect milspouse gift
But now, FINALLY, my book has been published! Open When: Letters of Encouragement for Military Spouses officially released this week, which means you now can get a copy online, wherever books are sold! I am so thrilled to have these encouraging letters to military spouses getting mailed to destinations across the country and the world. I can’t wait to see all the ways this book will touch lives and encourage military spouses and significant others!
This book is an excellent gift for any military spouse or loved one. It has been reviewed by spouses, military parents, and civilian friends who wish to better understand military life. They all agree that it contains warm, useful, practical advice that feels like getting a hug from a good friend. To order your copy, grab one from my publisher or from Amazon.
Because this book offers encouragement for military spouses in all stages of the military journey, it makes an excellent topic for a Book Club, either in your base or unit Spouse Club, or for a local military spouse group. There will soon be a virtual book club online, and I will help support in-person meetings with free discussion questions to download and get you started. You can learn more about the Book Clubs and get the free discussion question download here.