You Mean *I* Have a Problem?

When Hubs deployed and I flew solo in managing the house, our kids, my job, the dogs, etc., it took me a couple weeks to find my groove.  Not to say there were not skips in my record along the way or that I was in any way 100% perfect-o.  But, the girls and I developed a rhythm to which we danced (and occasionally twisted ourselves into pretzels) each day. 

The prize at the end of the dance marathon?  DADDY WOULD BE HOME.

What happens, though, when Daddy comes home and NONE of the ‘what to expect during the homecoming phase’ addresses what happened to YOU?

Daddyshome_1 Hubs found himself fitting right back into the swing of things when he came home.  This photo shows him with the girls within three minutes of stepping through our front door.  M2 insisted he read Go, Dog! Go! before he did anything else.  Talk about a drill instructor!!  Aside from the promised shortness in his communication, his failed attempts to have two young girls marching to his orders, and some interesting issues with his fitfulness at night, he didn’t do too badly at first.  Later, we dealt with the typical and routine bulleted list of "returning home issues", but early on Hubs didn’t have the issues…I did.

No one warned me what could happen to me when Hubs returned.  And, truthfully, if they did, I didn’t listen.  I was focused with laser beams on the date he was to be home and concentrated solely on helping him readjust.  I completely disregarded what this deployment had meant to me and how I might find myself responding to having him home.

I had no idea how hard it would be to turn off my twenty-four-hour per day, seven days per week hyper-vigilance mode.  For months and months, I’d awakened to every little sound.  I’d been responsible for checking every lock, every window and patrolling for monsters, real and imagined.  I realized soon after Hubs arrived home that I probably had not slept, really slept, in a very long time. 

The other surprise is that:  I had trouble hearing my husband.  No!  He hadn’t lost his voice yelling at his young ‘uns while overseas.  What Hubs soon discovered is that I had become quite adept at tuning out the buzz that accompanies two young girls who entertain themselves while their mother cooks, cleans, does laundry and occasionally collapses onto the couch in utter exhaustion.  Unfortunately, I’d also forgotten how to tune in to Hubs and very soon received a stern, "You aren’t listening to me when I talk!" 

Imagine that.

For weeks after he left, my ears physically ached straining to hear a voice I knew was no longer in the same zip code.  Now, here he was, home and I had trained myself to stop listening for him.  It took some retraining (and lots of repetition on his part), but I’m now a much more responsive listener…most of the time!

The final issue I had to work out was relinquishing control.  For someone who swore she couldn’t wait to turn a lion’s share of tasks over to Hubs when he returned home, I certainly clung tight to the ropes when he did arrive home.  I felt a real loss of control when Hubs left and I think I held on to my routine and tasks while he was away to feel more normal and in control.  I knew rationally I didn’t want to do it all long before I didn’t need to do it all.

Okay…I’ve opened up my big bag of neuroses for you.  Your turn to show and tell.  What can you, as an experienced Milspouse share with the newbies?  For those of you in the midst of a deployment, what concerns do you have about him/her coming home?

About the Author

Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at and maintains her individual blog at

13 Comments on "You Mean *I* Have a Problem?"

  1. Oh goodness. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I guarantee that each and every issue you described will be one that I face as well.
    I am a control-freak by nature and I crave routine. I was actually looking FORWARD to MacGyver deploying in the sense that I could establish MY routines and no one would be around to screw them up. I see that being a bit of a problem when he comes back.
    I'm also quite fond of doing what *I* want when *I* want to! I eat what I want to eat when I want to eat it. I watch what I want when I want to watch it (thank goodness for DVR!!!). I clean when I want. I go to bed when I want.
    It's going to be tough adjusting to having another PERSON in the house.
    At the same time, I am SOOOOO looking forward to it.

  2. Bingo! I learned from his Bosnia tour that if I don't have "stuff" for him to do when he comes home, he feels unwanted/needed. So when he comes home now, the hubby 2-do list goes up.

  3. Haa….my hubby comes home in about 2 and half weeks. And even though I didn't think I could I've managed to do it all…pay the bills, do the taxes, fix the car, buy a house (my first home inspection is…TODAY)…EEK!!!, spend time in Europe…and this morning (4am…not my best time) Hubby says to me…You know I didn't think you could do it but wow…you've exceed my expectations and then I got some praise and a long distance combat zone pat on the back…Then he says…since you picked out the house I'm buying the furniture….again I say EEK…..Before he left I would have been fine with that request but now… Well lets just say that I'm pretty sure furniture shopping day will be and exciting point in the readjustment phase :) Still looking forward to it no matter what it may hold….only a few weeks to go!!!!!!

  4. I had a slightly different sort of dilemma when my husband returned. He was supposed to return in Feb '05, so I had agreed to substitute teach for a friend on maternity leave starting in March. Well, naturally, my husband gets extended and comes home in March, four days after I started working. All of a sudden, he's back in my life after 13 months, and I'm WORKING SOMEONE ELSE'S JOB WHILE SHE'S AT HOME WITH HER HUSBAND! All I wanted to do when my husband got home was take care of him, and the tables got so reversed that he was taking care of the house and me! I absolutely hated it. Here he was in reintegration with virtually nothing to do all day long, and I couldn't spend a single day with him. It made my life so stressful.
    We can't always plan our jobs so perfectly, but I don't EVER want to have this happen again. Next deployment, I'm on vacation when he gets home!

  5. Oh yes, control. I'd done a lot of reading on what to expect from my fiance when he redeployed, but I doubt there was any reading he could have done to prepare for me.
    Apparently one can be perceived as a control freak if one stands over her sweetheart while he loads the dishwasher and then, once he's done, completely rearranges it. Who knew?
    Ten months after redeployment, we've found a really good rhythm for household stuff and things are great, but looking back, I'm amazed and thankful he didn't boot me to the curb. Or I him.

  6. It's all about compromise! Great post and great comments! I have had many of the same experiences you all have mentioned and, surprisingly, my husband and I have been married a little over 9 years and we still actually LIKE each other! We crack a lot of jokes around our house when things seem to get too intense. I have also had to learn to accept the fact that I am not always in control and my hubby doesn't do everything the way I do (Bette, I am STILL anal retentive when I load the dishwasher – I just rearrange everything when he isn't around :)

  7. I didn't have time to do all that stuff. He got home from Bosnia and was gone a couple of weeks later to Ft. Rucker, home a couple months, off to Huachuca for a few months, home for a couple of weeks, then 6 mos TDY to Italy, vacation for 2 weeks, then TDY to England, home for 12 days, deployment for 18 months (we are 5 months away from the end of this) I don't know how we are going to work this out. We have only seen each other "on vacation" or with that desperation of "he'll be gone in 2 weeks…." And I have been here, going through the routine. work, home, house, dealing with plumbers (who is an ass!) and workmen, and trying to sell, work, home, house…. pets…
    It's going to be interesting. Can I give up the important control matters. the remote, the cooking, watching something I can't stand on TV, the lid up? I am willing to try!

  8. I was just beginning to wonder if I was the only one going through this or who ever has. Hubby has been home for almost 7 months and I am beginning to wonder if I was losing my mind. Hubby and kids are doing great. I am having a hard time just being a wife. Thanks for helping regain what mind I have left after a 20 month deployment with 5 kids and a move across country.

  9. Ahhh, the joys and pitfalls of homecoming! I too was soooo excited to finally have my honey home. While he was gone I had taken a full time job, working for his unit no less, as a Family Readiness Assistant. I (thought) I had life under control, kids were still alive, so was the dog, the house hadn't burned down and the car was in tip top shape. I had been doing it all and all by myself…to include discipline. Then came the bump in the road…after a few days he started becoming a disciplinarian again. What's this you say…some one ELSE telling MY kids what to do???!!! I found myself VERY annoyed that he would have the nreve to tell my (ok.. well OUR) kids what to do. I was so used to doing it ALL that having him come home and take on such a personal aspect of our lives again really put me out. I found myself biting my lip and keeping my mouth shut (a REALLY hard thing for me to do in any situation…let alone one so personal) it took a few weeks and a proverbial fat lip (from biting it so much) to realize that I could FINALLY relax and that I didn't have to do it all alone. It was such a great feeling to let go and not do it all. Over all the homecoming went pretty smoothly and having some one to take care of me sometimes was the best feeling in the world. We are now gearing up for deployment #2 and hopefully all will go so well again.

  10. It is so refreshing to see that I am not the only woman who recognizes that there IS a proper way to load a dishwasher!! Hubs looks @ me like I'm daffy when I sneak into the kitchen and re-order the dishes in the washer. :)
    These comments are just reiterating for me that no matter what you go through in deployment or afterward, someone else is there too or has been there. :)
    Keep on sharing these experiences!!

  11. I am getting ready for my boyfriend's one year deployment to Iraq. We are not married, but do live together with my two children and I do depend on him for a lot…though I am no stranger to handling all tasks and the kiddo's on my own…but man I know this is gonna be a tough one. I took the time to read through all the comments and they were an eye opener for me and helped me gain some perspective. I know it will take time to adjust his being gone and still maintaining a somewhat normal routine and life. I have experienced deployment before, but it was with my ex and while he was gone…to put it nicely endulged in a lot of activites that broke up our marraige…but this time I have a good man so I know instead of worrying bout what he is doing over there…I'm just gonna miss him like crazy and anxiously await his return! Thank you for all the things I read on here…I really like coming to this site…so helpful.

  12. My fiance went into Air Force BMT about 4 weeks ago. I did get to see him for a few hours on Thanksgiving day in San Antonio. At first, when I saw him, it was strange. I hadn't seen him since his hair was shoulder length and he was slightly chubbier (I thought it was cute). Now, there was this guy stnading in front of me, with hardly any hair, in uniform, with this unrecognizable look on his face. Well, now I've got two more weeks left before I see him again and I'm excited.

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