Life after deployment
Homecomings are the best part of deployment. The build up alone can bring a smile to your face. Children make signs and talk about all the things they’ll do with their dad, women pay extra attention to appearance, and husbands count down the days till they hold their wives in their arms and sleep in their own beds. It’s a wonderful time filled with anticipation and happiness. But what happens after all the banners and streamers are taken down? You are thrown back into a life that you haven’t been apart of in months. Things are different. Children have grown, expectations have changed, and lives went on. I see so many people go through this transition period and it really is different for each family. I’d like to believe that my marriage is strong and that we handle this life pretty well together. But after all the honeymoon fireworks, I find that it takes work to keep our marriage “in shape”.
Recently my husband returned from a deployment. We took two weeks off together, while our kids were in school. We had lunch dates, took care of a few projects on our “to do list” and took advantage of the quiet house by taking many naps. We reconnected and it was amazing, but now the honeymoon is OVER! His clothes are on the bathroom floor, I have to share the remote, and he keeps elbowing me in the head while he sleeps at night! There is another person to cook for, another person to make a mess, and my expensive salon shampoo is disappearing!? If only we could live in the moment of homecoming itself.
Now, we are a normal family again. Well, as normal as the Navy will let us be. I love having my best friend home. I love that there is someone to talk to, someone to help with the kids and work. But with that comes someone to disagree with. Ahhh yes, the joys of marriage and parenthood. My husband and I are both very strong-willed and coming to a compromise isn’t always as easy as it sounds. I tease that shore duty will be a test to see if he will be able to retire and stay married at the same time.
We forget what a drastic change homecoming can be. First, I couldn’t sleep because my husband was breathing. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but while he is deployed it is perfectly quiet at night, now all of a sudden there is someone next to me and I can’t sleep. Then you just have to get use to having another “grown up” in the house. And I don’t even want to think what it must be like for my husband to go from living with 160 other men on a Submarine to having just the kids and myself.
One thing that really drives me crazy is that our children will walk right pass my husband and into our bedroom, knock on the bathroom door to ask a question while I am in the shower!? They are so used to Dad not being there that they forget that they can ask him. I spend a lot of time saying, “Ask your father”. And our communication as parents is always out of whack after deployments. This morning my husband asked why our son is playing a video game. I responded, “I said yes when he asked. Why not, it’s the weekend??” My husband then tells me that our son had his privileges taken away. That was news to me. I feel like we need a dry erase board to keep track of who does what. I am so used to being the only one in the house that makes decisions that I forget to include my husband. I never do it intentionally; it’s just out of habit.
It really does take patients when transitioning from deployment to home. I always think that it will get easier with each deployment, but it doesn’t. I’m still adjusting today the same way I adjusted years ago. Adjusting to life after deployment can be hard. I don’t have a big enough column space to go into all the details. There are so many emotional hurdles and feelings can be hurt on both sides. Rearing and disciplining children could be a column in itself. Just remember that it affects everyone in the family. Don’t forget about the children and parents/in-laws. Heck, even our dogs are having trouble.
In our house, we are dividing up who does what and trying to become a team again. And as soon as we figure it all out, he’ll deploy once again. And no matter how hard it is to “adjust”, I would rather have my husband home and causing chaos than to have him deployed. Ask yourself, “How do you transition? What are the best and worst parts”?
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