Reintegration: A Wife’s Story
In the scheme of things it’s not long. But when it means being without the man you love, your best friend, and the amazing father to your kids…four months seems a lifetime.
After surviving our first deployment, I was thrilled to see my husband again. To my daughter, who was 17 months old, it meant seeing the man who she thought lived in my laptop. It was both exciting and nerve-wracking. Seeing him walk down the stairs out of that KC-135 was one of the most surreal moments of my life.
Knowing he was ours again was an unforgettable feeling. We hugged. We kissed. We couldn’t let go of each other.
Our daughter wasn’t sure what to think. She was confused. The hardest thing for us both was that our daughter didn’t want anything to do with him. She was young and it had been months since she had seen her daddy in person. It broke our hearts. Daddy wanted was to snuggle with his little girl but she wouldn’t let him. It took a few weeks before she trusted him again.
As part of our reintegration, we focused on time and compromise. It took time for my husband to re-enter our little girl’s heart. It took compromise for us to share parenting roles again. I thought I knew what to expect, but I was wrong.
At first it felt like our honeymoon stage. But after that, we had power issues. Living under the same roof. Controlling finances together. I wish the military would provide a seminar or counseling sessions to help families deal with not only having a loved one halfway around the world, but what to do when they return. Deployments are hard; unfortunately the families seem to get lost in the shuffle.
The best advice I could give is to reach out to other military spouses for support. Nobody understands it better than someone who’s been through it.
After spending more than a year of our almost three-year marriage apart due to BMT, Tech School, Deployment, and a TDY, I have learned much. I am stronger. It never gets easier, but I have grown.
Rely on family and military friends for support. Contact your local Family Readiness Center for help. They often have many resources from financial counseling to special privileges for spouses of a deployed service member such as free oil changes on base.
Check out great websites like militaryonesource.com to find information on re-integration, marriage counseling, finding jobs as a military spouse and everything in between.
Just hold on. Do your research. And always love your military spouse. He/she is defending your freedom. Remember that even if the mission comes first, you are foremost on their mind.
And when they return, treasure the moment. Welcoming your special someone home is an amazing experience that will stay with you forever.
Heather is the writer behind “He Wears Combat Boots, I Wear Stillettos.” She is a Mamma and a wife. When her husband is out defending our country she is here defending our home front. She is among the Silent Ranks: a military wife. All photos are courtesy of her.