My husband is home. I don’t just mean he’s in the other room watching The History Channel. I mean he’s home as in he’s not “on a trip.” In fact, he’s been home a lot since his last deployment, way more than I’ve become accustomed to in our nearly 12-year marriage. And as strange as it sounds, I have to admit that sometimes having him home is almost as much of an adjustment as having him gone.
As military spouses, we read a lot of tips about how to cope during deployments. But what about tips for when your husband is NOT deployed and when he’s been home for 6 or 8 or 10 solid months, a span of time that many military spouses have never shared with their husbands?
I’m not a marriage counselor, and I’m certainly no expert on the subject, but with the amount of time my own husband has been spending at home, I’ve gathered a few little tidbits of knowledge through experience. I can’t claim to follow them all, but I do recognize the value in them and hope I can, at some point in the near future, follow my own advice.
Here are my…
Top 10 Things to Remember When Your Husband is NOT Deployed
He’s never going to do everything exactly the way you do it. He’s not going to load the dishwasher the way you do. He’s not going to make the bed the way you do. He’s not going to put the kids to bed the way you do. He’s not going to remember where you keep the extra rolls of toilet paper. And that’s ok. Take a deep breath, let it go, and move on. And who knows, maybe you’ll discover that you like HIS way better than yours.
I’m the kind of person who needs my alone time. I need some distance from the rest of the world so I can process my thoughts, even if that distance is simply an extra 5 minutes in the shower. But when my husband is home, I no longer get the alone time I had when he was gone. So we compromise by giving each other the space that we need, but making sure to meet up again before that space between us becomes too great. A little personal space is good. Too much space is not.
My husband used to be gone so frequently that when he came home I treated him like an out-of-town guest. And while I’m sure he enjoyed being doted on for the first couple of weeks he was home, with fresh smelling towels and his favorite home-cooked meals, I’m also sure that he soon longed to become a part of his family’s daily routine. After all, he IS a part of our family, not just a visitor.
Deployments change marriages. He’s changed. You’ve changed. You’re not the same people you were when he left. And that’s normal. Just make sure you introduce your new selves to each other. Isn’t fun to fall in love all over again?
Share your thoughts. Share your bed. Share your chores. Share your kids. Share your ice cream. Share your time. Share the remote control. I know you’re used to doing everything on your own in your own way. But when your husband is home, you have to get used to sharing your life with him again, even if that means you have to trade in Grey’s Anatomy for the History Channel.
4) Schedule date nights.
I know baby-sitters are expensive. I know work schedules are unpredictable. But find a way to schedule time for just the two of you, even if that means putting the kids to bed early on a Friday night and sharing stories about your day for 10 minutes before popping open a bottle of wine and clearing out your DVR. You both need that time as a couple, whether you’re using date night to get to know each other again or to remind each other why you fell in love to begin with.
You’re more independent. You’ve pursued hobbies and chased personal goals. Don’t give all that up just because you no longer HAVE to be independent. And try to include your husband in those new hobbies or personal goals. (And if that’s not possible, at the very least, have him watch the kids while you do your thing!)
When your husband is gone more than he’s home, communication is limited to cryptic emails, late night phone calls that you vaguely remember, and/or short Skype sessions that you spend begging the kids to either speak (on the days that they’re uncharacteristically shy) or stop arguing (on the days that they’re acting completely normal and fighting for the spotlight). Suddenly he’s home, and oh my gosh I actually have to talk to my husband face-to-face! Just remember that communication involves both speaking AND listening. Whether he wants to discuss his deployment experiences or you want to discuss your newly discovered successful methods of disciplining the children, remember what you learned in kindergarten: use your words and wear your listening ears.