The adjustment can be smooth and easy or difficult and stressful. Try to keep in mind, even though you have been dealing with the ups and downs back home, that your soldier has been deployed for a year or more. Understand that the things we tend to take for granted are the very “luxuries” he has been completely without. You have been able to get up and walk ten feet to the bathroom…he has had to make sure he was in full uniform and I can’t imagine how far some had to walk to get to a porta potty. You could fix something to drink, anything you want, with ice! He hasn’t been able to have a glass of coca-cola with ice in a really long time! Those simple things make a big difference. And on top of not having those things, he has been in a war zone…aka HELL! Please, please try not to expect so much!
Here are a few tid bits of advice for the soldiers via Military.com…
Make time for your family. Hold off on visits to relatives and limit time with friends until you’ve settled into a comfortable routine at home. Take time to talk with your spouse or partner. After a long absence, you need to get to know each other again. You’ve both had new experiences that may have changed your priorities and your ideas about roles in the marriage and the family. Talking now can help you lay the foundation for a newly strengthened relationship. Take time to understand how the family has changed while you’ve been gone. Don’t charge in with your own way of getting things done. Notice how your spouse is dealing with your children’s discipline, for example, and restrain yourself from taking over with a tougher or looser approach. Spend time alone with each member of your family. Think of things to do with your children that you each enjoy and that will give you time to talk and have fun together in a relaxed way.
Don’t leave to visit relatives right away. You, as a family, need to spend alone time together. It is good for the soldier to be able to spend time with his kid(s). This alone time means so much to both. Your husband will need this time to adjust, to get to know his child(ren)’s new interests, to talk with you, and to sit back and relax. Visiting relatives and friends should come at a later date. Taking time to talk with your husband is very important. My advice…do not ask so many questions. He will tell you whatever he needs to when he is comfortable. Overwhelming him with questions may seem more like an interrogation.
Allow time for rest and relaxation. Plans and vacation time will come! Making immediate plans is very stressful and doesn’t allow for any “down-time”. Now I know you may be saying to yourself, “Where the hell is my down-time?”. But we are the wives and our job is to be the glue that holds it all together. Your relaxing time will come soon. Before you and your husband plan to visit relatives, try to take a night or two for yourselves, if you can.
Continue doing your normal routine when it comes to household work. Don’t expect him to immediately take out the trash, deal with the upkeep of the pets, household projects, etc. Some husbands want to immediately do these things and some don’t. Pay attention to him and talk. Patience and good communication are the key!
His sleep pattern and schedule may be totally off also. Let him sleep late, go to bed early, or both.
I want to mention PTSD as well. PTSD can be easy to spot or very well camouflaged. Pay attention to his temperament. Watch his moods and see how he handles the new routine. If you feel there is an issue, discuss it with him. Like I said earlier, communication is the key. There are also people you can call for help. Visiting your soldier support center on post is a good place to start. They have several informational packets that can help you as well as numbers to call for assistance.
With all that said, try to enjoy your time once he comes home!!! Relax, have fun, cook together, have a drink or two, dance in the kitchen, etc!!! Decorate the house with lots of ribbon, flags and a banner. Let the kids make “daddy signs” and hang them on the walls!