Upon returning home, many servicemembers admit to feeling like a stranger in their own home. They often walk through the front door, settle in and discover:
- New routines. Out of necessity, your spouse may have altered the routines you've shared for the better part of your marriage. Don't be surprised if your significant other hesitates in reverting back to a pre-deployment schedule.
During your absence, efficiency has been his or her mantra. Conditioned to operate at optimum levels, they've been in "go mode" for months. The idea of altering a routine that has served them well may incite feelings of unease.
Often, discussing how to meld the old with the new is enough to get you on the right track in creating a revised routine—one that serves all household members.
- An extremely independent spouse. When interacting with your spouse you may find yourself silently asking, "Who are you? And what'd you do with my wife/husband?" Long gone is the once demure wife or the husband whose cooking specialty revolved around anything microwavable.
It's important to understand that for the length of your deployment, the entire operation of running a household became your spouse's responsibility. Consider accepting and appreciating their newfound qualities. After all, you've probably changed too, which will require them to adapt to the "new you."
- Feeling unneeded. Young children are creatures of habit. Because of this mindset, they may overlook you and approach your spouse when needing assistance or asking a question.
In most cases, the situation remedies itself with time. Once your son or daughter grows accustomed to your consistent presence, they'll naturally gravitate towards seeking your help, often preferring you over your spouse.
Transitions require time, patience and effort. It's common for military couples to experience a honeymoon phase upon the servicemember's return, followed by a rocky period that arises weeks or months later.
Open communication, mutual respect and a healthy dose of humor are key factors that'll assist you and your spouse in making a smooth post-deployment transition.