Military couples have unique challenges that some, unfortunately, are not prepared for. Part of the nobility of those who serve our country is their capacity to sacrifice all aspects of their lives — sometimes, this includes relationships. Deployment can take one’s spouse away for several months at a time, and both parties not only have to get comfortable with adjusting to that, but to the reunion as well.
With all the dangers our service workers face, their return home is primarily a relief. Finally, they are home safe! But with that relief comes a new set of concerns, meaning that the fairytale reunion people imagine is usually just that — imaginary. We all know that war can change a person in traumatic, serious ways, so it only makes sense that you worry your returning spouse isn’t the same. But there are ways to make it work, and it can still be the happy event it should be.
Knowing what to expect when your military spouse gets home
Where to even start, right? As the spouse of a deployed member of the military, you are no stranger to just how much there is to keep track of. You’ve probably heard your fair share of stories — both of the fairytale and horror variety — and you are well-aware your spouse will likely have some form of PTSD once they get home.
The thing is, it’s hard to conceptualize much beyond that. If you haven’t experienced it yourself, you just can’t really know what to expect. Everyone is different, and it’s true that you two probably need to relearn each other a bit. That’s okay. It’s not a sign of the end for there to be a period of adjustment, even if it’s longer than you expect. Take comfort in knowing that so many others have been in your position, and a lot of them are happy to help.
While no one can entirely predict the future, other military spouses do have tips to help make reintegration easier to survive:
- Spend a decent amount of time just talking to each other. This is the one thing everyone agrees cannot be stressed enough.
- Don’t expect your spouse to automatically readjust to household chores and other duties.
- Don’t over-schedule the first week. Err on the side of caution — your spouse may need a lot of down-time to recover, and you want to respect that.
- Watch your spending. Going into debt is not a very good celebration, no matter how sentimental it is. The reunion is great because it’s a reunion, not because it’s flashy.
- If you have children, expect them to push the limits a little now that both parents are home. Try to understand that they are craving the extra attention for the same reason you are.
Again, try to keep in mind that just because the reunion isn’t the TikTok-worthy fest you imagined it would be, doesn’t mean something is wrong with your marriage as a whole. It is normal for things to be off at first, in a myriad of ways. Don’t be afraid to reach out to local resources and online forums for advice and support regardless.
Communication is key to reintegration
This was mentioned earlier, but it’s so important it’s getting its own little section. That’s how much we want you to understand this: communication is key. You two need to talk, talk, talk, and then talk some more. Perhaps you want to think about seeing a counselor together to help make that happen, perhaps not, but one way or another talking needs to happen.
Think about reintegration as the start of a new kind of relationship. You two need to figure out new boundaries and comfort levels between each other, rediscover what you like and dislike, and everything that’s changed since they left. Of course, it’s very easy to just say you need to talk, but communication is no easy task at all. Here are a few ways to fix that:
- Talk about expectations, ideally both before and after a deployment.
- Be flexible. Things can change a lot during a deployment, and they may still change a lot after the return home. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
- Plan in advance how the first few days of the reunion will go. Surprises may not be welcome, and knowing what to expect can bring both of you a much-needed sense of security.
- Keep talking. Resist the urge to isolate or shut down if there’s a misunderstanding or rough patch. The communication needs to be ongoing to do the job.
- Start slowly, in every sense of the word, and try not to take it personally. Again, think about it as a new kind of relationship. You need to find your footing first, and so does your spouse.
It is absolutely understandable that your marriage feels fragile and far away right now. You are not alone, and you are not bad or ungrateful for feeling the way you do. Military marriages take an unprecedented amount of work, both emotionally and otherwise, but they can be done successfully and with all the love in the world. That being said, sometimes the challenges can simply be too much to overcome, and that’s okay too. As painful as it is, it is a relationship like any other, and sometimes relationships end — especially after so much time apart. Our Knoxville military divorce attorneys can help.
If your spouse came home after deployment a different person, you are not a failure for needing to walk away. You deserve help for that, too. Military divorces have their own complications, but the divorce attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter have years of experience detangling them for our clients. We are right here for you in Knoxville with compassionate representation you can trust. To learn more, call us today at (865) 637-6258 or use our contact form.
Patrick Slaughter is an experienced Knoxville attorney passionate about helping families resolve legal issues including divorce, family law matters and immigration. Patrick graduated from Lincoln Memorial University – Duncan School of Law, summa cum laude and is a published author. Patrick is a member of the Knoxville Bar Association as well as the Tennessee Bar Association. Contact Patrick Slaughter at (865) 637-6258 or by filling out a case evaluation below.
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