Since my husband came back from Afghanistan…

January 31, 2012

Military Life, Reintegration

I’m going to completely level with you.
Because bluntly?
It’s been really hard to let my husband back into our routine.
Sounds weird right? Let me explain.

The first few days are always a roller coaster ride between euphoric elation to smack in the face reality moments.

The ‘Dishwasher Debacle’ post is one great example of this.

I LOVE that my husband is here to help with normal daily tasks.
I HATE that he does it wrong – er – differently – than I do.

Many times these small simple disagreements can lead to arguments about much bigger things.

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After a few days, the stress level starts to increase.
Seth responds to stress by cleaning. (A behavior I have a love/hate relationship with.)

I am starting to feel more and more tired as days go by because I’m not sleeping through the night.
I am thrilled to have my husband home – but I jump out of my skin when he tries to wake me up.

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It’s been just over two weeks now and we’re still not communicating very well.
I’m still in the mindset that I need to do things alone.

This is partly because Seth is still getting to know our routine.
He doesn’t know I let William sleep in his batman costume.
He doesn’t know I let Maggie have a sippy cup of milk in the living room at 5am.

He doesn’t know that when the kids get sick at night, I wipe them off,
put them in clean pjs, let them sleep with me in our bed, and clean up the mess in the morning.

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It’s just going to take time.
While Seth was away, I had to pick my battles.
And now we have to learn all over again how to parent our children as a team.

This past weekend, we spent some time alone together with our children in daycare.
It was wonderful to just walk around the city of Trier, taking pictures and sampling street vender wares.
I think a whole day of undistracted attention for each other was something we both needed.

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In these past two weeks of consciously trying to communicate and problem solve through each little conflict,
I’ve wondered.

How many other spouses feel like they’ve struggled more than their service member during reintegration?

Seth seems to have adapted very well to such a dramatic change.
He is helpful around the house, he is connecting with our kids -
and yet I can’t seem to shake this deployment mindset.

In many ways I feel like the life I’ve created to cope with deployment has been invaded.
I want him here.  I want his help.
I want his advice.  I want him to lock the door every night before bed.

But wow.
Sometimes.
It’s really really really hard to step back… and let him…

Have you ever felt like this before as a spouse?

How long did you feel like you were in deployment mode after your service member returned from deployment?

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About Ann Marie @ Household6 Diva

View all posts by Ann Marie @ Household6 Diva

32 Responses to “Since my husband came back from Afghanistan…”

  1. Kim Kravitz Says:

    We went through this last time Aaron came home. It was worse than the first time. Hell we still go through little things now that he does “wrong” or what I let the kids do etc. I think it’s just a “perk” of being married to someone in the military that we deal with more often than couples who don’t have to go through long separations.
    Kim Kravitz recently posted..Connor 2012 SeniorMy Profile

  2. No Model Lady Says:

    Well said. It is so hard to adjust back to life as a team. All I wanted those 8 months that Spouse was gone was to be with him and less than 48 hours after I got him back I felt like I was suffocating. I was just used to being alone. There is a period of adjustment in which you have to sense each others needs and boundaries almost as if you’re newlyweds.

  3. Allison Says:

    My husband has never been deployed but I did sort of go through this when he returned from basic. He was gone for long enough that I was completely comfortable in my independence and doing things completely on my own that it was hard for the first few weeks to let him in.

  4. Jennifer Says:

    When he got back from the last deployment it took… I’ll say about 3-4 weeks to finally feel normal again. We got into it a few times…bad. And as much as I hate to say it, it was mostly my fault. I was so used to doing everything on my own that I wasn’t letting him into our lives. I was just trucking on doing everything myself while he was basically standing there saying, “But I can help too, I’m here now.”

    It’s hard. But it gets better. :)
    Jennifer recently posted..Military Monday – Who Have You One-Upped Lately?My Profile

  5. Krystel Says:

    You totally aren’t alone. I almost felt like a stranger was moving into my household and messing up my daily routine. Funny because I have a draft post about this very topic. I am glad to know it’s not just me because for a while I felt like a bad wife.

  6. Nolie Says:

    I think it is hard for us as there is no change of scenery for us. It’s not like we are are in deployment mode at x location then we go to y location when it is done. Also they are trained to adapt, us not so much. Or at least that is my opinion.
    Nolie recently posted..My Mommy Says You’re a TwitMy Profile

  7. Samantha Says:

    i think that people who talk about how reintegration is all love-making and unicorns are full of it. There are so many changes that have to happy during that time on their end and ours. There are bound to be issues. Some couples have it better than others. But what I know is that the first time we battled through reintegration it was one of the toughest time of our marriage. We worked through it. It’s a stage, a patch that we are all capable of working through!! Best of luck to you guys getting into a routine together!
    Samantha recently posted..Talking about PinterestMy Profile

  8. Kristi Says:

    We are just getting ready for our first deployment but I’m really worried about this too. We have this problem after TDYs but sometimes we even have it in miniature even just after he comes home from a normal workday. I think that any marriage requires you to find that balance between your way and his way. Maybe at a more fundamental level it’s a struggle between trusting yourself and trusting another. And I think that the kids in the middle make this harder because we, whether our husbands our home or not, we usually carry the bulk of the workload when it comes to the care of the kids. So we, well at least I, get a little territorial and defensive about that responsibility. Anyway, once again I really relate to this post. Thanks for sharing honestly. It helps to know that others have similar struggles.
    Kristi recently posted..CookingMy Profile

  9. Jen Says:

    I can completely understand this. He was only gone on a SPS for 3 months but still any time away is time that I have to do everything on my own. My husband has even told me that he expects me to relax more (especially since I am now 7 months pregnant). But I am so use to being the one to pick up the slack for everything that it is a bit annoying when things are not done “my way”. Or when I feel like I am now cleaning for an additional person if he doesn’t put his things away right away, plus work and soon to be more schooling…. It does lead to some arguments/discussions but then there are many times that I realize it is my own independence that is extremely difficult to let go of.

  10. Michelle Says:

    I appreciate your honesty about this topic. We are in month 3 of reintegration after our third deployment and this time has been harder than the last two. We have 3 kids. My husband is more helpful than ever before around the house and such but I can’t seem to get out of my “funk”. I hate that everyone on the “outside” seems to have this illusion of what it’s like when our guys get home and can’t get their heads around the idea that it’s not as easy as they think. We have a son with Asperger Syndrome (high function autism) and that’s where my biggest struggle seems to be hanging. I can’t seem to let my guard down and let him parent our son because it’s been my job to advocate for him and plan for him and protect him. We’ve been married 12 years now and I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to let him parent without micromanaging. It’s like torturing myself and never giving myself a break but I am the kids only constant and doggone it I’m the mom I know what’s best.
    Michelle recently posted..The 19th is A Big Day Around HereMy Profile

  11. Carrie Says:

    Well said. My spouse has been “home” for almost one year. Sometimes it is still a struggle. For him as well as me. He travels frequently, so as soon as a we start to feel “normal” again, he is gone for 1-6 weeks. It is getting harder for both of us to cope with and has definitely taken its toll on our 3 children. I have found it harder and harder to allow him to parent his children. I agree, many civilian families do not understand, and I find as a National Guard family (my spouse is full time with the Guard) this problem is even more prevalent. Many of these communities are very removed from the realities of military life.

  12. Marie Says:

    I feel like this, and it’s not weird at all! My husband has been back for a while and sometimes I still find myself getting in that deployment mindset, i\I agree and think it was a harder adjustment for me than him
    Marie recently posted..I want to get a new cameraMy Profile

  13. Jackie Says:

    We went thru the same thing for about 2 mos when my husband came back from Iraq. We didn’t have kids at the time but I felt that made it even a little harder going from completely alone to a couple with shared tasks again. It does even out & get better.
    Jackie recently posted..Snapshot Sunday: ConcentrateMy Profile

  14. Julie Says:

    I can understand this too. My husband seems to be able to get right back into things after he deploys. It is hard for me to let go of things though. When he is gone I make all the rules. Now I have to share that power and it is hard. Especially since my personality is one that likes to have that control.

  15. Elizabeth Says:

    I totally understand this, it is hard to let it all go, it is so hard when the whole time they are gone you are wishing they were there only to kind of wish that they weren’t there when they do finally get home. Don’t get me wrong, I sure am happy he is home but I am so tired of the no we do that now fight.

  16. Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting Says:

    You know I went through this, absolutely. And it was tough, because me, the control freak, suddenly had help and could relinquish, but couldn’t. For us, it lasted months, but you already know there was WAY more going on there that wasn’t “normal” and our lives were completely different than they’d ever been. For you, though, you’re about to experience a TON of change with the move back stateside. You already know it’s going to take time, sweetie – my advice would be to keep reaching out to your friends (ahem) and let him in, heck, even do it together (dishes, clean up the kitchen, etc). Even to this day, when we’re doing something like that together, I immediately get inspired and happy and feel more together, because we’re PARTNERS. You know? And relish the time you have there left, and bring him on some of your fun expeditions, show him what you were up to, where you went, favorite escapes you went to. And heck, deployment over or no, go buy some paper plates to avoid the dishwasher issue :)
    Lisa @ Crazy Adventures in Parenting recently posted..Back to It! Menu Planning Monday Jan. 30th – Feb. 5thMy Profile

  17. Joyce Says:

    I constantly read your blog but never really comment but this particular post really hit my heart. First, I have so much undying respect for your family…having kids and going through deployments, you are one strong mama/wife! I went through a year deployment without having children and its probably the hardest thing i’ve done in my entire life, no lie. but, like all military spouses i slapped on my big girl pants and just did it, ya know. Anyways… we had a rough time with reintegration and, like you, I felt like my husband was a champ and I was the one who wouldn’t let go of being super independent. We finally found our balance but it took a long time because i’m really stubborn. I’m so happy you two got time alone together and I hope thing get easier. :)
    Joyce recently posted..Feeling UncoolMy Profile

  18. Wendy Says:

    I am going through the exact same thing right now with my husband. The onlly difference is right now he is home on R&R and has to go back in a week. I love my husband very much and I love having him here with me and our 3 year old daughter but I sometimes feel like he is in the way. And when I do I feel guilty. I hate thinking about him having to go back to Afghanistan but its stressful having him here right now and disrupt our routine. We are dual military so I understand whats he’s going through on the deployment end but he’s never been on the home end of it. To be fair this is my first time on the home end of it as well. I wish there was an easy way to handle it all. Good luck on your end. BTW we are in Germany as well.
    –Wendy

  19. Rene Says:

    Glad your husband is back! Sounds like it’ll take some time to get back into the swing of things. From looking at the comments, it sounds like you’re in good company :)

  20. Sarah Says:

    Oh, I totally went through similar things when Joe came home last year. It was a million times harder than I thought it would be!! I guess, for a while, it seemed like he was intruding on my routine and the way *I* did things… The poor guy was just trying to figure out how to fit and do things I asked him to… We fought/bickered a lot more than I ever thought we would {and more than we ever had before} but, somehow, after a couple months we found OUR routine. And of course, now that we’re really settled in our routine, he’s going to be leaving for training for 3 weeks and I’m sure I’ll find my way back into that routine as soon as he leaves. Sigh.
    Sarah recently posted..Highs and LowsMy Profile

  21. Juls Says:

    We suck at re-integration. This year will be so much harder, I’ve already started putting up walls, and hes not even home yet. Once he gets home, We’ll have 5 months before he leaves again for 12 months. It already feels like he’s just going to be a long term guest. I already tale offence to some of his ideas and suggestions, because I feel like he’s more or less making situations for me to deal with after he leaves, that I don’t want to be part of. And Now I know I’m going to keep being the heavy hand because he gets to be good dad the whole times he’s home really. It’s so tough. I really have to spend the next months praying for direction, and peace before he gets home.
    Juls recently posted.."The Good Wife’s Guide" plus a giveaway!My Profile

  22. Tracy Hall Says:

    It was very uncanny when my husband left for Afghanistan. It was July of 2010 and he returned in August 2011.

    About 30 days after he left our house flooded and my landlord could not afford to fix it. After going through JAG and relocating 2 weeks later to a different house about 1.5 miles from the flooded house. It was life as normal as could be. The HUGE bonus was that we (my 2.5 year old and myself) were in a new setting without a bunch of memories. My son could have cared less. But it was bittersweet to leave the house we rented and loved and had a garden, to a house that was mine. This move was the least stressful of all my moves in my life, because my husband was not involved. My family helped and the move was not that stressful. I had help from all different angles.

    My husband returned home on the 1st of August and we went to “My House” and we still refer to that house as my house (or he says your house). And we did a PPM/DITY to Indianapolis from Washington DC – 7 days after his boots hit the ground he was moving us. We did ABF so it wasn’t too super stressful and I pre-packed before I got him at Ft. Campbell back to DC. He did not get leave after this deployment because he had to start his civilian (army paid) training in Indianapolis ASAP.

    I think the benefit here (and this is obviously not a solution) was I did have my own house and my own rules.

    THE DOWNSIDE it sucked moving in together because it literally was that. He was all up in my business, my routine, why am I doing this, where is that, what is that, when did you buy that, did you need that, why are you doing that………blah blah…and then disciplining our son was so hard….
    It sucked for about 4 weeks – it took us about 3 months to really get back to normal.
    Tracy Hall recently posted..Moving TipsMy Profile

  23. Fran Says:

    I haven’t been through this yet. YET being the key word, my husband is set to deploy soon and I keep wondering what’s going to be like once he gets back because I know myself, and I know I will have this routine set and it’s going to feel like it’s being invaded, I’m just glad I can read your posts and know I’m not crazy or a bad wife haha
    Fran recently posted..Majors and Minors and Masters, oh my!My Profile

  24. The New "Normal" Says:

    THANK YOU!! I have totally been feeling the exact same way. My husband seems to have adjusted and fit back into family life so well, yet I don’t seem to be able to get it right just yet. I’m used to doing things my way, on my time, without anyone else’s opinion. The parenting has definitely come the hardest though. I had things figured out that worked over the last 10 months and had everything running fairly smoothly. It’s hard to not tell him how it should be done (or how I think it should be done) versus letting him try and figure out how it works for him. I know it will take time and we will get there, but it’s definitely something I’m having a hard time with! Thank you for posting this – so glad to know I’m not the only one!
    The New “Normal” recently posted..“Who Am I?” – Homefront United NetworkMy Profile

  25. Kiki Says:

    Surprisingly, we’ve been pretty okay since the hubs has been home. We did, however, go on vacation two weeks after he got home, which I think was a damn good idea. We don’t have kids, though, so it’s easier for us, I suppose. Before the hubs deployed I had already gotten him into the habit of cleaning the way I want the house cleaned. I also helped him out a little by making little changes that would make it easy for him to get things done. And when he came home he remembered everything.
    Kiki recently posted..Supporting Your Friend through a Spouse’s DeploymentMy Profile

  26. Mama Monkey Says:

    I think the hardest thing for me when my hubby came home from Afghanistan in 2010 was time managment! I was so used to doing the cleaning and my own thing after the kids were in bed for the night. When he came home I wanted to spend time with him after the kids were asleep. Our house quickly became more messy than I’d like and blogging/photo editing/and reading books fell to the side. It’s still something I’m working on. Above all else, I’m just so entirely thankful that he came home safe!
    Mama Monkey recently posted..BUSY!My Profile

  27. Kristi Says:

    We went through the same thing…I could do everything and i didn’t need him in the parenting department at all. (This was our first deployment and it was tough!) And thats how I acted, till I realized that this hurt him, because that made him just a paycheck instead of a dad and husband… To say in the least it has been a struggle sharing things and we still are trying to deal with it two years later… (our son didnt know daddy anymore and still has not much use for him even after all this time) so time will tell, we’ll get back to normal then he’ll deploy again, and start all over again…

  28. Hallee the Homemaker Says:

    We committed to meet every Sunday afternoon after church and communicate. No kids allowed. We review the week before and plan the week ahead and just talk. We cover finances, kid’s activities, schedules, dinner plans, blog posts… whatever. One common question is “what could I have done differently?” Also, “How can I help you more in the week ahead?” We really think it has helped and we don’t plan to stop meeting like this anytime soon. We love you and are thrilled that Seth is home.
    Hallee the Homemaker recently posted..What Do You Do When…My Profile

  29. ArmyWife Says:

    My husband has been to Korea twice, and 3 tours to Iraq. I thought we were handling things well. A few months after he got back this last time, he changed completely. He is mean & nasty & just a really awful hateful person to be around. He yells at me and the kids all the time. We have done everything we know to do, and he stills blames us for everything. No support what so ever from military. I know they have “resources avalible”, but we have tried everything on & off post that we know of . . . when you finally do get in they just refer you to someone else. The last few months have been a living hell. He has been gone for training for two weeks now, and it;s just about the best thing ever. He will come home at the end of the month, and I am already in nots over it. He has just become so vile, and nasty toward me. He publicly humilated me atleast twice, among other things. He does not drink, or do drugs, so I have no clue what his deal is. He is supposed pcs soon, and if things don’t change we will not go with him.

  30. eva Says:

    when my husband first leave me to fallow another girl, i want to meny spell caster to help cast a spell so that my husband we come back to me,they all made away with my money.untill i ment a grate caster name drmarkrobbin.when i ment him i told all my problem and he told me that he will cast a spell for me,that after seven days that my husband we be back to me. I did not belived him because of what other spell caster have don to me, after three days the spell was being cast,my husband that have left me for long call me to tell me that he still love me,that he love to come back to me.EMAIL.drmarkrobbinspellhome@gmail.com

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    [...] Since my husband came back from Afghanistan by Household 6 Diva- She talks about how WE as the Military spouse might have trouble after they get home from a deployment.  I could totally relate. [...]