Salute to Spouses Blog

We're excited to be blogging about the latest topics in military life. We want to keep you informed on topics such as current events, education, career advice, etc. Feel free to post comments or questions to any of our entries.
Reintegrate This

So Jason has been home over a month. The honeymoon period is mostly over, and we’re neck-deep in reintegration. 

This part sucks.

Don’t get me wrong. I would rather go through the toughest day of reintegration than I would ever another day of deployment. Four deployments are definitely enough. But there’s a special kind of hell associated with reintegration. That moment when you look at your husband and think, “what has changed us in this year apart?”

For the most part, our relationship is the same. He’s amazing, considerate and has let me sleep in just about every single day since he got home. For that alone, I will sing his praises. He’s still the same doting father, just with another child to dote on. He’s fit right into the hockey schedule, and even lets me stay home while he ferries the kids to practice. Sure, his temper is a little post-deployment short, but he knows when to step outside and cool down before something comes flying out of his mouth.

But still, something is … different. Not in a bad way, just a different way. I didn’t have this crazy career when he left, but one month after he came home, my book released and hit number 16 on the Amazon best seller lists in the first three days. Now, his “I have time for whatever you want,” wife is … well … busy, and that’s a huge adjustment for him. 

Now, my career is stepping up to the same level as his, which is something we haven’t dealt with in the seven years I’ve stayed home with the kids. The biggest difference there? When he goes to work, he … you know … goes to work. 

When I’m at work, it’s between choruses of, “Mom!  There’s a 2-hour snow delay!” and “Mom!  He won’t share the black crayon!” I may have very ungracefully pointed that out to him during a slight, stressful breakdown yesterday. Hey, I never said I was perfect.

He’s home on leave, he’s taking over some household duties, which kind of makes me feel like I’m failing in that department, and he’s everywhere.  Remember, spouses are allowed to have a hard time with reintegration too.

The point here, is that reintegration sucks. It’s shoving two puzzle pieces back together again when you’ve already roughed up the edges so much you’re not sure if they fit. Well, people, they can fit. You can fill in the gaps with a little time, consideration and effort.

  1. Communicate. Ask your spouse how they’re feeling about reintegration. Has any particular thing changed that they’re having trouble with?
  2. Pay attention to his sleep pattern. Is he sleeping? If not, how long has it been? How long is he awake? When Jason struggled with PTSD after he was wounded during his first deployment, this was one of my first signs.
  3. Give him space. Deployment has a much faster tempo than home life. So when Jason’s foot starts tapping (I know his tell after all these years), I invent an errand for him to go on, or purposely forget something at the store. He needs the time out, a purpose, and sometimes just the quiet of the car. There are five kids in this house from age 10 to 10 months. He’s used to having a solitary room where he can shut the door and be alone, and at home there’s no guarantee of solo bathroom time. So, I make sure he’s got that space.
  4. Stop expecting the fairy tale. Yes, homecoming is gorgeous, and emotional, but this is the meat and potatoes of life here. That whole “I’m so thankful you’re home” is always in the back of your mind, but is soon overcome by, “could you please stop hanging your bath towels off the bed’s canopy,” in no time. The beautiful thing about having them home is that real life comes back, so let it. There are bills to pay, kids to feed and battles to pick.
  5. Speaking of battles, pick them wisely. Remember that just a month ago, you were begging to get your arms around him, aching in loneliness. So does it really matter that his towel is on the canopy in the scheme of things? No. If there’s a battle you have to fight, then pick it, by all means, communication is key, but if it’s not that big of a deal, ask yourself if it’s really worth it, or if it’s too small to care about in the long haul, stop pitching the fit.
  6. Enjoy him. Love him. Tell him how happy you are to have him home, and make sure he feels it too, because that’s what this is all about, right?  This is all about welcoming our spouse home and making sure they still fit, that we all fit. And if we don’t fit? We make room. Make it work.

So yeah, reintegration sucks. It’s hard, it’s great, it’s frustrating and it’s peaceful. It’s a hodge-podge of emotions that we’re willing to go through because it means one thing:  they’re home. There’s nothing better than having Jason home, and when we’re having a hard time adjusting, we just wrap our arms around each other and acknowledge that this isn’t always easy. 

For us, it’s more than enough. It’s home.

For Military Spouses
Apply for the Salute to Spouses scholarship today and begin your education! You’ll be on the way to your dream career.

Salute to Spouses Scholarship Recipients