End of deployment brings anxiety for spouse

Transitions are explored in WoW – Words on Wednesdays by folks connected to the military, writing about the transformative experience from a personal perspective or the experience of books of fiction and of biography.

Today, some direct advice from Pam and Shaun Collins. It’s reprinted from their mid summer column at their first writing base at Ft. Leonard Wood’s Guidon.

Now, directly from the He Said, She Said column and in their own words……..

My spouse is deployed, but coming home within a few weeks. For the past seven months, I have so looked forward to the time when he walks off the plane. Now, I am starting to feel a bit of pressure that things might not go as smoothly as I hope.

Things are different – good and bad. He used to pay all the bills and we lived paycheck to paycheck, but now I take care of that. I have us on a budget and we now have a savings account with real money in it.

On the bad side, I gained quite a bit of weight while he was gone. I am working on losing it, but it sure goes on easier than it comes off.

I talk to friends who have been through the deployment thing themselves and they tell me that I have nothing to worry about, but life will not be the same as it was before he left. Should I be worried?

Shaun Collins responds to a question on food filching

Shaun M. Collins

HE SAID:  It is not at all unusual to have anxiety about his return and his potential reaction to the budget and or your concerns about the weight.

Understand that everyone is different and while I don’t know your husband, I can tell you that most people get married and love the person inside the body.

Think about how many Soldiers come home missing limbs, afflicted with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or other Traumatic Brain injuries.

For the most part, I’ve seen very caring and loving Families come together to overcome these life-changing consequences of war and deployments. If he truly loves you, which we can assume he does in that you’re still married, he might be a little surprised about the weight; but he also may not care in the least.

If it is something that bothers you, ask him to work out with you, go for walks and runs together. Use it as a way to re-bond while getting back in shape.

As for the budget, you need to work together and make sure that he’s not bringing home the bacon to find himself on an $80 per month allowance for gas, lunches, haircuts, etc. Talk to each other and figure out what is reasonable under your budget that still allows you to stay out of debt, save for the future and take the occasional vacation.

By being debt free when you retire, you may actually retire and not have to have a second career to pay the bills.  Long-term goals are often a great motivator.

Congratulations – and remember if you meet him at the airport with a pensive approach, he will detect that. If you wholeheartedly embrace him and show him how much you missed being in his arms, you will probably find he missed you just as much; the rest will work itself out with some honest communication and teamwork.

Pam Collins

Pam Collins

SHE SAID:  First, let me congratulate you on taking control of the Family finances. Good for you. It is never too early to start saving for retirement or unexpected emergencies and too many people don’t.

So again, good job. Keep it up. With that said, what you are experiencing is not uncommon.

Myself, along with almost everyone I have ever talked to, has gone through an adjustment period when their spouse left and again had to adjust when they returned.

I agree with your friends; it won’t be the same but it can be better. I can tell you your husband will likely feel the need to step back into the shoes he left in order to feel secure and “normal.” The best suggestion I can give you is, communicate, communicate, communicate.

As soon as possible, sit down together and talk about how things have changed, and how they are the same.  You still love each other. You still are both committed to the marriage. You are happy he’s home. You would like the opportunity to maintain some of the responsibilities you inherited when he left, but you are more than happy to relinquish others.

This conversation will happen in one of two ways – in a calm, adult fashion soon after he returns or down the road, in a screaming match when both of you have reached an unattainable level of frustration. Choose the former; not the latter.

Annnnnnd it’s always a good time to spin an upbeat tune….  

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