From the Mailbag: Who Should See Him First?

We've had so many questions and comments throughout the years about the friction that often occurs with family members during R&R and Homecoming. Military spouses and their partners often wish to reconnect with one another before bringing in the extended family, and they find it tricky to navigate the familial waters. It's an emotional time and, as this unbelievable story clearly illustrates, jockeying for position can cause all kinds of problems. Yesterday, an interesting twist on this common dilemma came to us via the mailbag.

Reader KK writes:

My husband is on his way back from a combat zone after a 1 year tour. He is demobilizing on a base about 6.5 hours away from me and the rest of his and my families. However, his sister is only 3 hours away. When I emailed them today to let them know his whereabouts, she emailed back saying she's going to try and visit him before his homecoming.... and that makes me upset. Why am I so upset?

I can rationalize and say that yes, there have been territorial issues in the past with who has the most information and how much time we need to spend with certain people, but in the end... it's convenient for her, and it MIGHT be convenient for him.

It could just be that I am SO anxious to see him, be in his arms, and just get life back to normal, that I'm envious of her being able to get that hug and time in before me?

Am I coming out of left field or is this semi-normal?

I don't think KK is in left-field. I fully appreciate and understand the desire to be the first person in his arms upon his return. It's a special moment and you want to be right there with him. You want to be the first person who loves him to welcome him back. You want to see that he's okay with your own eyes. We've all been there. Having said that, this is a unique situation.

I realize I'm stating the obvious, but your husband's relationship with his sister is quite different than his relationship with you. A hug from a sister, mother or niece is wholly different than a hug from you, the love of his life. And if he can't see you first but has the opportunity to see the familiar face of someone else who cares about him, I think that's great for him, and his sister. Not only that, but if, as you allude to in your email, there have been territorial issues in the past, having you encourage this meeting may help in that regard.

In the end, I think it's your husband's decision to make. If he wants to make the time to see his sister, maybe you should encourage him to do so. The most important reunion is going to be the one between the two of you. Our spouses have family members who love them, too. But just remember, they chose us as their life partners. That's a big deal.

Congratulations on the end of a deployment, KK. Thanks for posing such an interesting question. And please let us know how it all turns out.

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