Diary of a Deployment 5: Homecoming Jitters

My name is Jackie and I am an Army wife. My husband has served for five years and has been fortunate enough (in my eyes, not so much his), to be assigned to non-deploying units. Everything changed the day he informed me that he had to deploy. I invite you to join us as I chronicle our journey.

It’s incredible how much can change in a matter of months. After my husband left and I had a good cry, I received a great deal of support from family and friends, and I went into “Wonder Woman” mode.

I looked this deployment in the eye and said, “Bring it.” I found my footing as a solo parent, established new routines and you know what? I excelled.

Talking With Spouses

When other military spouses asked how I was,  I replied, “Really well, actually!” It was at this time they also admitted that some things were easier when their spouses deployed. They admitted that we find our own routines and that fitting our spouse in after homecoming can be tricky.

When I asked more about homecoming, I received many honest thoughts. I heard that the “homecoming honeymoon phase” wears off quickly and one spouse went so far as to tell me “Reintegration is worse than deployment.” All urged me to give it time.

A Real Glimpse

For the better part of 12 years, my husband has been by my side as a partner to me and a father to my children.

As for me, I have always been strong and independent. I am older than my husband, have lived on my own, and have confidently forged ahead in life, trusting my intuition. So in true form, I felt strong and successful holding down the homefront while he was away.

Although some responsibilities were enhanced as the only parent from morning to night — even when exhausted — other pieces were easier. There was less laundry, cooking, dishes, and cleaning. I socialized more and deeply connected with friends who became my village in my husband’s absence. 

Preparing for Homecoming

A soldier and friend once told me, “Always make sure there is a place for him when he comes home.” I get it now. 

We understand that since he left, the children are older, life has changed, our relationship feels different and in addition to surviving deployment, my husband will get a quick crash course in our “new normal.”

I have talked with my husband and realize that we share similar concerns. Ever the proactive optimist, I am doing a few things in advance:

  • Honoring and admitting our concerns
  • Having honest conversations with each other
  • Focusing on the positive
  • Relaxing and working on releasing control
  • Acknowledging that there will be stress and hiccups, but this too shall pass
  • We are working on solutions together
  • We will maintain communication and patience

The military may keep us apart here and there, but it is up to us on how we handle things when we are together. To those of you in similar situations: happy homecoming and best wishes for a wonderful, new family dynamic!

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