The Truth About Seeing Your Spouse Again After A Deployment
The summer of 2009, I waited in an airport terminal in a fancy dress and heels. I never wear heels but this was a special day. My husband was flying in from Iraq for a two week R&R during his year-long deployment. My boys and I were in California visiting my family, and that is where he was going to spend his R&R.
I was waiting in the airport, staring at the escalator that brought down the arriving passengers. Had it been ten years earlier, had 9/11 never happened I could have watched him get off the plane. But this was as far as I could go in our post-9/11 world.
I could hear all the other people in the airport when they realized what was happening, that a soldier was meeting up with his wife after time apart.
I heard cheers and claps as I ran right into his arms. This was bliss. This was what amazing meant. This was how things were supposed to be, both of us, in one another’s arms, husband, and wife together again.
I took off my heels as soon as we got into the car and started to relax. My parent’s had our boys, and we would see them again in the morning. This day, it was for me. Just for my husband and me. We got a local hotel and spent that first night together after so many months apart.
The strangest thing after a deployment is that feeling that you don’t know one another like you used to, like you did before they left.
This is a scary feeling. You guys have been living apart for quite a while. You both have changed. You are both not the same as you were the day that they left. This is normal.
That first day of R&R we decided to spend some time at a local outdoor mall. We walked around the stores and things felt weird. It was similar to how one would feel on a first date. Here was this man, this guy, he loved me and I loved him but things didn’t feel 100% familiar, not like they normally do.
I knew this feeling would fade. That time would pass and he would feel like home again. That’s what happened. I know we are lucky. That feeling doesn’t always come back for everyone.
That R&R we spent a lot of family time together and we were able to spend a few days on an anniversary trip to Catalina Island. We had gone there for our honeymoon and were now able to be back on our anniversary, somehow that worked out despite crazy military schedules.
Two weeks went by and he had to go back as they do after R&R. I dropped him back off at the airport. This time we would be apart a little over two months. That didn’t seem as bad. We could do it. Luckily that deployment didn’t get extended, but it was always a worry.
He came home that November and we started the process of moving back to the US from Germany. Another deployment was done, completed. Eight years have passed since that summer and I can still remember so much about how I felt when he came home, how nice R&R was, how hard saying goodbye at the end of R&R was.
The truth is, deployments can hit you hard. They can mess with you. They can cause you to think things about your relationship that simply are not true.
The time after deployment isn’t always bliss, in fact for most people, there is always something to work through. Being away from your spouse isn’t easy and can take a lot of time to get back to any type of normal. Some couples have to work through so much. Some couples can’t get past it.
The truth is, a deployment, that’s a difficult situation you and your spouse will have to go through. And for a lot of military spouses, you will have to go through them more than once. You have to work hard, you have to work on your marriage, and you both have to be understanding of what you both have been through while you were apart.
If you are towards the end of your deployment, know that homecoming is going to be a good day. You will get your spouse back. You will no longer be married to your phone or your computer. Your real life husband or wife will live with you again.
But also know that the after deployment road won’t always be easy, but that road is one you can walk through together. Be open, be honest, and seek help if you need to. You can get through this after deployment period, even if you have to take things one day at a time.