7. Do not expect that everything will go back to “normal” and perfect as soon as they’re back.
Reintegration struggles are a real thing. Learning how to live life together after a deployment is tough. You’ll have to readjust in regards to money matters, parenting, shared decision-making, living habits, etc. It’s not easy. It takes work to find a good rhythm. Often, Service members come back different after experiencing war. It won’t all be exactly how it was before. But you have the ability to find a new “normal” and make that work for you! Just start to focus on renegotiating togetherness.
8. Do not disrespect Murphy and his Law.
Sometimes, you just have to accept that Murphy’s Law might reign in your home while your spouse is gone. Contractors might fall through the roof. Garages might end up under a foot of water. Moles might take over your yard. Watch out for Murphy! Don’t speak ill of one who so often visits!
9. Do not talk to them when they’re drunk or under the influence of prescribed sleeping meds.
We all know about drunk dialing and drunk texting. And yes, it even happens during deployments. Try your best to nip it in the bud. Nothing super positive can ever come out of these conversations. I have friends whose husbands are flyers and take sleep medication when they need crew rest or have to swap their day/night schedules. The stories I’ve heard about those Skype calls never turn out well. It’s easy to get offended when alcohol or medication has loosened the tongue some. Gently suggest bed and don’t allow them to rope you into the loop of “why do you want me off the phone.” They usually won’t remember it in the morning – but, oh boy, will you remember it if you put up with it.
10. Do not try to do it all on your own.
People want to help! Allow friends from your support network to help if you need it. Don’t turn into the mom who insists on wearing her 8 month old baby while raking the leaves in a job that takes her 6 hours when she could ask for help and 3 teenagers could finish it in 30 minutes (I’ve totally been that mom, and it’s no fun). This might mean just asking a friend for help or it might mean tracking down paid help. I’m definitely a supporter of being willing to pay for help when my husband is gone!
11. Do not expect too much from yourself or your kids.
Living without your family together is tough! It’s going to be hard on you and your kids. Don’t expect that you’ll all bounce back instantly. Don’t get frustrated when you hear the kids say (for the millionth time) that they miss Mommy/Daddy. I always find myself rolling my eyes when one of them says that even though we’re 6 months into a deployment. I need to give them a little more grace – even though it might have already been a long time and we’re into our routine without Dad around, the kids still miss and need him. Don’t expect otherwise. Also, allow yourself to miss your spouse too. You married this person for a reason and it’s natural to struggle while they’re gone. Again, just don’t let it become a never-ending pit of despair.
12. Do not let their tough days bring you down.
I’ve found that my husband has a lot of bad days when he’s deployed. He manages well, but he misses the family and is easily bummed out, irritated, and lonely. I’m the same way, but we work together to avoid feeding off each other’s moods too much. If your spouse calls with a list of complaints, try to be understanding and involved in the conversation while you have them on the phone or computer, but then – once you’re off – slide back into your current reality at home. If I let myself have a bad day every time my husband had one (and vice-versa) we’d all be miserable all the time. That’s no way to spend a deployment!