Laura anxiously anticipates the return of her husband Dan. What will it be like and what should she do? After all, he is not returning from a successful business trip or golf weekend. He is coming back from war. Should she arrange a romantic just-for-the-two-of-us event or a family reunion? This is the first homecoming experience in their young marriage. It has been over a year since Dan left. Little Maja was born 3 months ago and Dan has yet to meet his new baby girl. Laura, once shy, dependent and overweight turned into self-reliant and confident woman. She joined the gym, lost weight and signed up for computer classes. Even though Laura missed Dan terribly, she adapted to being a military wife. They had kept each other up to date through e-mail and phone calls. Dan will be surprised to find how much has changed since he left.
How do you deal with the challenges of homecoming? Relax and accept that homecoming can be difficult. In getting ready for the big day, put your own needs aside and help your spouse reconnect with the life he or she left behind.
The real challenge is life after deployment. Historically those fighting in combat have a much greater likelihood of relationship break-ups than their civilian counterparts. Depending on how devastating the war experience has been, your soldier may not be the same person that you saw off. Your spouse could have witnessed others including children or comrades die. He or she may have been forced to kill in the line of duty! While your soldier may not share all of these experiences with you, listen with empathy if he or she does. Even though your life was clouded with fear during deployment, don't compete for the most wounded heart. After the big homecoming, you might be anxious to get on with life as a couple, but find each other at different junctures. Returning from a country at war, every day life may now seem trivial to your spouse. He or she may suffer from post-war trauma or guilt.
“I really couldn’t tell if it was me or the PTSD,” said Angela* an Army wife. “It didn’t matter. He wasn’t going to live here any more without seeing a therapist.” Angela told me that her husband had come home from his third combat deployment a few months ago. He didn’t have nightmares like you ... Continue Reading