How do I adjust to having my spouse back home after military service?

Richard Ricciardi
Advanced Practice Nursing
Coming together as a couple after war deployment isn’t easy or something that happens naturally. It requires effort on everyone's part, and an understanding that each person has grown and changed during the deployment separation. What’s important when you come home is for both of you to come together and create a shared sense of purpose, which is essential for your wellbeing as a couple. This won’t happen overnight. It will take time, patience, mutual compassion and a desire to do so. 
Homecoming from military service is a joyous occasion for most service members and their spouses or partners. However, the initial joy is like re-living the honeymoon phase of your marriage. When day-to-day reality sets in again, the honeymoon ends and there is a period of adjustment to the new dynamics of the relationship. It’s normal to go through a period of getting reacquainted with your spouse and re-establishing intimacy. The tension you may experience can come about simply because you and your spouse have been leading separate lives for a while, and going through your own individual changes.

You may feel resentful of being “taken for granted” while your spouse was deployed. You have had to manage the home front on your own, and may need extra appreciation from your spouse for your efforts. It may be hard to give up the independence you became used to while your spouse was gone.

Be up front with your feelings, but not confrontational. Your spouse may not be aware of your perspective on the situation. In addition, your veteran spouse may be dealing with a lot of stress in reintegration to civilian life, and may be behaving in ways you didn’t expect. His/her behavior is not your fault, and does not mean that he/she no longer cares for you. Communication is the key to mending the misunderstandings and insecurities that your separation may have created. Talk about your expectations, and about how to share responsibilities again in your life together. Seek professional guidance and counseling if, over time, things do not improve and you are still struggling with the adjustment.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.