I have had multiple conversations concerning how deployment compares to other absences. Obviously I am pretty early into this whole thing, but I can already notice some significant differences between deployment and other experiences.
Ranger School was hard, mostly because you never know how much longer it will go on. Your spouse could be gone for another three weeks, or another three months. This was the hardest part for me, the constant change in how long he'd be gone. There is essentially zero communication, which is harder than deployment. However, your husband isn't in a danger zone. Yes he could get hurt, but that is nothing compared to the anxiety associated with your husband being in Afghanistan. My experience with deployment so far has been pretty good on the communication front. Which is much better than Ranger School. I know roughly how long my husband will be gone, which is a huge difference from Ranger School.
Lane and I were long distance for a total of five years before we got married and moved to Fort Benning. This gave us some pretty good experience with digital communication. We were in different countries for almost two years of that. We got pretty good with e-mail and instant messenger. Obviously, being far away in college is very different from deployment. However, getting practice with talking on mediums other than the phone is helpful.
I don't really know how one prepares for deployment. There are so many variables concerning what your communication will be like. We tried to make sure we knew what each of our ideal communication situations would be. When he arrived, we tried to get a sense of what would be possible. You can almost picture a Venn diagram with what is possible overlapping with what is ideal. For us the ideal situation was constant computer access with daily e-mails and intermittent instant messages. We have been really lucky that our ideal situation has been the reality. I will never take this for granted. I know that this is way more than a lot of military spouses get.
I think it's dangerous to go into deployment assuming what your communication will be like. If you assume you will have phone access, it's hard to adjust that plan once he is over there. I kept an open mind for the first few weeks, and gave us a chance to develop a routine.
Now I am not saying that this will work for everyone. We have talked on the phone once since he left, which works perfectly for us. This would be miserable for other military couples. Knowing what is possible and what is ideal are two separate things. Finding where the two meet is pretty much the best you can do.