My husband recently came home from a 10-month deployment. I will be the first person to tell you that a 10-month deployment wasn’t my first choice, but with everything in life, I’ve learned to make lemonade out of lemons.
His deployment quickly became a positive for us. We saved $60,000, went to three port calls, traveled, saw friends and family, and made lots of new friends. I am the adoptive aunt to three amazing children and had a best friend who was there for me through thick and thin. I started a professional job, bought two houses, managed 11, and grew our real estate empire to seven houses!
There were lots of awful days. You know, the ones where you go to bed crying and can’t stop, but we not only survived, we thrived. I learned that I am a strong individual capable of taking care of myself and a cat. While I have always done the finances for our family I had never lived alone. This was a new experience for me especially with my family on the other side of the county.
I will be honest, although I got through deployment, the thing that worried me the most was what happened after deployment, the reintegration. As a deployment virgin I had no idea what to expect. You hear about PTSD among many other issues so I was a little worried to say the least.
But he surprised me and I surprised myself. We have only had one fight since he got home and that was late at night when we were pushing each other’s buttons. A month later, things are going great! My parents have visited, we have tackled a bathroom project together, and we haven’t killed each other.
Here’s the thing I have come to realize about reintegration: we have a NEW normal. After 10 months with him being gone I am not the same “me.” And that’s okay.
I use to be this outgoing person who thrived on interaction in the evenings. After 10 months alone, with a stressful demanding day job where I interact with people all day, the evenings became my alone time and my people-free time. When I wanted interaction I would go to my friend’s house, take her kids on “dates” and enjoy adult company. When home, the house was my recharge time, my time to figure things out and where no one else other than my adorable cat would bother me.
The biggest adjustment for me has been having another person back in the house. While I always appreciate help with laundry and dinner, it’s still been an adjustment to do everything on my husband’s schedule again. I wake up in the morning to laundry being put away and him wanting to know what our daily plans are all while I’m still asleep in bed. I also had to find another place to work on my blog because he wants to go to bed and the bed had become my desk. It has been interesting learning to “share” the evening time and to keep the house up to standard TOGETHER!
So this virgin deployment spouse is warning you: you will be different! Yes, we all hear that that the active duty spouse comes back different, but what we don’t hear about is how it affects the ones who stay behind. The good news is we as military spouses can learn to EMBRACE IT! While a new normal can be scary and stressful it can also be amazing and unexpected too.
I honestly never thought I would have this kind of “reaction,” but it has been nice. My energy level has reached up to more of my husband’s levels and I have simply spent more alone time on the couch while he has chilled. It has also provided me more of an insight into how HE feels. He used to come home, nap to have the energy to eat dinner, and then go to bed. Trust me I get it now!
What is your piece of advice? What did you learn after deployment?9
I understand all of this. My husband is returning home from a deployment very soon. Having to share everything all over again is always a challenge for me. I like having the bed to myself. I like having the remote to myself. I like quiet. But I am looking forward to seeing him again.