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

10) Take deep breaths.
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.
9)  Give each other space.  But not too much space.
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.
8)  He’s your husband, not an out-of-town guest.
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.
7)  Get to know each other again.
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?

6)  Share.
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. 
5) Schedule girls’ nights out.
Your girlfriends got you through those deployments, so don’t forget about them during the times of non-deployments. For the first couple of weeks after my husband returned from deployment, I fell off the face of the earth, abandoning my friends who were my lifeline while my husband was gone. But the longer my husband was home, the more I realized how much I needed that girl time. We need to nurture those friendships. Friendships are like marriages: for better or for worse, in sickness and in health.

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. 

3) Don’t forget the person you’ve become as a result of those times he WAS deployed. 
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!)

2)  Communicate.

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.

1)  Remind yourself to live each day like he deploys tomorrow. 
I am so guilty of not following this advice.  It’s too easy to take someone’s presence for granted until he’s gone and you’re left alone wondering why in the world you didn’t take advantage of every day you had together.  I have no idea if or when my husband will deploy again.  So in the meantime, I need to make sure we’re living like he deploys tomorrow.  Because who knows…maybe he will.
What are some of your tips to remember when your husband is NOT deployed?

13 Comments on Top 10 Things To Remember When Your Husband Is NOT Deployed

  1. I loved this post! My husband just came home from a ten & a half month deployment two weeks ago and it is definitely an adjustment. So many of these things you listed ring true to what we are going through now (minus the children) and all I can say is that even though we've been through it before is that it's still a learning experience and all you can do is take it one day at a time. I'm so thankful to have him home but getting used to his presence is an adjustment. Thanks for sharing these tips! 🙂

  2. What IS it about the History Channel that sucks men in? So funny you mentioned that, because when I lose control of the remote, that's usually what it's turned to.

    I'd also add, "Don't forget that he needs the same." Just as much as I need space and a girls' night, he needs his space and a guy's night.

  3. I love this post. After my husband got out of the Marines he was home for a year and a half before he left for the Coast Guard.. It was weird. We didn't really know how to do the whole seeing each other every day for a year straight thing.
    Things are definitely better now but it was quite the adjustment.

  4. Great post! My husband was deploying frequently, until he signed up for a tour as a Drill Instructor at Air Force Basic Training. This tour means that he won't deploy for four years. It's amazing the things that we can take for granted and/or forget when our husbands aren't deploying a lot.

  5. This was definitely one that I needed right now! My husband has been home 2 months now and we are passed the honeymoon period back into reality. While I am elated to have him back home again, sometimes reality bites. I've been frustrated because of the things you mention in #10 and I feel like I'm losing the person that I became while he was deployed. The hobbies that I've gained and the new interests have had to take a back seat and there just aren't enough hours in the day! But the advice to live like he deploys tomorrow is so good and so true. I try to remind myself of the importance of communication and how the little things really don't matter in the grand scheme of things, but it is hard. Thanks for the reminder and the great tips! Now to learn to start taking deep breaths…

  6. Space is so important! Sometimes I get so used to be alone that I feel crowded when he's around more frequently. I have to make sure I get my alone time so I can appreciate his presence!

  7. Love, love, love. There are tons of spouses who need to be reminded of this. As well as a new generation of spouses who need to learn 🙂

  8. I really needed this. It's such a delicate balance between loving them like they might deploy tomorrow and having them be a part of your everyday "normal" life. Great post, RC!

  9. Amen Sister!!
    I loved this post! I think it is so important to acknowledge that you are different and you do have to readjust.

    And I would add remember that you are not the only one who missed him…so give him time with his friends too. I admit I didn't take this advice so well when he was home on R&R last time.

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