Advocating for Defence families

What to talk about when there is much you can’t say

My husband was recently crash posted into a job where he can’t talk about what he’s doing. So with deployments still happening we thought here at DFA that we would share our tips for what to talk about when there is much you and/or the ADF member can’t say.

Why is this important? Because talking and sharing is one of the key components of strong relationships.

What to talk about:

The mundane

Last week the shower thongs that my husband bought the year we met 25 years ago broke while taking a shower after a lunch-time run at work. We have had quite a conversation about this because it turns out buying thongs in his size in Canberra in winter is not easy and he’s then had to buy a pair on-line.

Humdrum stuff? Yep but that’s what’s happening. When I asked my husband what he wants to know about our life when he’s on deployment he said the mundane because he wants to hear about normal and routine when he’s under stress.  The familiar is calming.

Don’t place too much pressure on yourselves that every conversation has to be deep and meaningful. Your relationship is under stress so keeping the connection is what’s key.

How much you care for each other

From a member of the DFA team: We never say “I miss you” to each other at the end of a conversation as it amplifies the absence. We always say “I love you”.

Something funny

Many of us in the DFA team have kept notebooks to write down funny things we hear or see so we don’t forget when it comes time to talk. This of course includes funny things our children say. From one of the DFA team: Miss 5 told me that she learnt how to call 000 for if it was an emergency such as “If there was a fire or if I had a bad dream.”


I know that my husband is doing things he can’t talk about when he’s deployed and I get emails detailing what he’s been eating. Good food is key to morale so it’s an important topic. Share what you’re eating and ask your ADF member if the cooks have made something special or there’s been a theme night.

Sea state (For our Navy families)

The worst my husband has seen is waves that were as high as the bridge. That’s 6 metres and something to write home about! Guaranteed there will be members of the crew who will be sea sick in these conditions. Once my husband wrote to me about someone whose skin had actually turned green. Terrible for this person but again, something to write home about!

Fun activities for the ship/unit

When ships and units are away for long periods they will often organize fun activities to maintain morale. This could involve a game of Uckers which is a board game like Ludo, that has its origins in the Royal Navy.

What books, movies, TV shows are they watching?

The future

Talk about what you would like to do together when they return. This could be anything from a holiday to eating at a favourite restaurant.

Current affairs

One of our ADF members is a current affairs junkie so he wants to know everything that’s happening in Australia when he’s overseas. Anything from weather events to politics to sports updates.

What tips do you have for things to talk about when there are things you can’t say?

Maree Sirois
National Convenor

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