This is the third in a series of four blogs focusing on the reintegration journey of one Air Force Couple and their family. Hopefully you have had the opportunity to read and reflect on the first two blogs in the series: The Honeymoon Phase and Establishing New Routines.
This blog, which includes days 15-22, highlights the necessity of Working on Relationships following a deployment. Watch for the range of emotions experienced by all family members, conflicts experienced, and efforts to work as a team. During this time period, the couple ran a half marathon together. Think about how a deployment and reintegration may be similar to running a marathon – both require preparation and planning. Both also involve preserving together to overcome grueling challenges.
Day 15 – Her
I wish I had more to talk about on our day 15 back together but we were the perfect boring normal family. Had a picnic for lunch, and grilled for dinner. We did stay home from the farmer’s market at the beach because my allergies were too bad. I’m telling you the struggle is real! I packed the kids for a sleepover at a friend’s house while hubby and I run a half marathon this weekend. The half marathon was something we signed up for before he left for his deployment. It was something we could focus on other than how long we have been apart. It’s surreal to finally be running.
Day 15 – Him
I’m finding that wife and I are starting to disagree more, which it sort of seems like where we were at before I left. Disagreements are usual amongst couples, but I don’t want to argue at all. There are just some things I say and the way I say them that sparks a conversation which eventually leads to a disagreement. I feel like I’m working on trying to better understand her while I certainly see her trying as well. There have been a few occasions now where she has let things go that she would have used to jump on and drive her point home. I hope I don’t make it sound like it happens all the time, because it really only has been a few times now, I just want to make sure that it doesn’t progress into something more. Communication has never been my strong suit, so this is something I’m really going to focus on, not just for these first thirty days home, but for the rest of our lives together.
Day 16 – Her
We are getting some more time way from the kids tonight. A whole night!!! Friends are letting our kids sleep over so we could come to the half marathon tomorrow. We are only a hour and half away, but it’s still a getaway. I have done runs and marathons but my hubby isn’t able to do them as much as me. It’s nice to accomplish to do together. To me it’s a team thing. I feel like we work together and finish together. I don’t think it’s a cure all in our relationship, but sometimes when we come to a road block in our disagreements remembering that we jumped over fire together once in a mud run makes it seems so small.
Day 16 – Him
Today has flown by and what a day it has been! I was so taken back by watching both my older two test and earn their next higher belts in Taekwondo. This was up there with some of the proudest moments I’ve ever shared with my children. I’m so proud of their discipline and dedication to their art. An overwhelming sense of pride came over me when each of them ceremoniously tore open their new belts to signify that they have mastered one skill level and had graduated to another. The day didn’t stop there either. My wife and I both signed up for a half marathon that we will be running tomorrow, so immediately following class, we picked up a few essentials from the house, dropped the kids off with the sitters, and headed to registration. I was so relieved to find that this race was very organized and we didn’t have to wait long to pick up our race packets/shirts. We ended the night having a nice dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. I can’t wait to see how tomorrow plays out.
Day 17 – Her
We ran a half marathon. It was a lot of fun. Even better to run it with my bff hubby. He helped motivate me when I was struggling. I didn’t train as hard as I should of but I found it hard to with the kid’s schedules. But we stayed together the whole 13.1 miles. I say it was a day full of accomplishments! Complete win.
Day 17 – Him
It was an early start for a very exciting day! We spent the night at a nearby hotel so we could wake up close to the race. This was my first half marathon and my wife’s second. I kept asking her some questions from her experience and she had some great tips. It was a very challenging run since neither of us really trained for it. I worked out while I was deployed more so than I did before I left, but I wasn’t quite as motivated to run. My wife, on the other hand, was home dealing with everything I left behind on top of three children, so I can understand why she wasn’t able to train as much as she wanted to. Despite these setbacks, we persevered together and overcame a grueling 13.1 miles that helped draw us even closer to one another with our shared experience. I truly felt blessed to have gone through the pain and suffering, so long as I went through it with my soul mate.
Day 18 – Her
I was joking today, that I feel like I have gained ten pounds in the last two weeks celebrating hubby coming home. But then I stepped on a scale and found it not as funny. It took very little convincing to get hubby on board with a new menu to make every day. No more donuts for breakfast or Nutella filled crescents. Hubby sat down and really helped our son with his homework. I was very proud to see them together. Our son has always attached himself a little more to me. Little buddy likes his man time but will always come back for cuddles with me. We did have a down part of the day with some disappointing news. Hubby’s father was in the hospital again with heart problems. I don’t feel like I said anything right but I wanted to be there for my hubby. I went right to the Internet to google what could be done and found encouraging news from others that have gone through the same thing. I felt selfish because all I could think about is how I need to take better care of my hubby because of his family history I don’t want to lose him. I quickly went to the no red meat, lowering our salt, gluten free, I will make you live forever because I can’t live without you speech. I just want to live a long and healthy life with that man and I can’t see myself without him.
Day 18 – Him
I woke up today with some bad news. I felt distraught to hear from my mom that my dad had to go to the hospital again for the second time in three weeks. He was just admitted a few weeks earlier for pneumonia, which they also had to remove fluid from his lungs. This time there was too much fluid around his heart. I’m extremely worried that he won’t stop smoking or start eating healthier, as recommended by his doctor. He’s always been stubborn and I don’t see him changing his ways this late in life. He’s already had two heart attacks during his late 40s and early 50s. Even then, he continued to smoke even though my Mom actually quit as a result. I was very blessed to have my wife to support me after hearing this news. She sat outside of the shower while I tended to my thoughts and even looked up helpful stories of other patients who found ways to get better, despite their diagnosis. She’s such an amazing woman. I’m glad to have her by my side when I face this discouraging fact. I will spend my days trying to convince that man he needs to change his habits if he wants to live a longer and more healthy life.
Day 19 – Her
Day 19 – Him
Our middle child spiked a fever last night, so we decided to make him a pallet on the floor in our bathroom to make it easier for him to go. At the same time he was also coughing real bad, so I gave him medicine for both. I checked in on him a few times throughout the night and into morning. I gave him water to complement his meds as well as a cold wash cloth to keep on his head. I did this again around 5am, but this time he didn’t want to lay in his pallet of blankets anymore so I offered him a spot in our bed next to me so he could get a little more comfortable. He must have woke up again sometime a little after 6:30am with my wife since it was a school day and that’s when her alarm goes off. I didn’t hear it since I was exhausted from waking up so often. My son was so appreciative of what I did for him, that he made me breakfast in bed! He asked my wife to make me coffee while he made me two pieces of toast with butter, cereal, an apple, as well as a banana. It was indescribable; the feeling that came over me when my wife told me it was all his idea. I couldn’t believe how generous he was when all I did was what my wife had done so many times before. I’m sure he would have done the same thing for her if I were here instead of overseas, but since we were both here, he felt he could do something in return. I am extremely blessed and that one experience has made my entire day.
Day 20 – Her
Last night I didn’t want to write because I was mad, frustrated, and jealous. My son gave a wonder gift to Hubby/Daddy to say thank you for taking care of him. I was so jealous. After that I let every little thing get to me. The peak of anger came when my kids fever came back hubby didn’t even think twice about it, the obvious thing to do was leave the sick kids with me while he went to the movies. Probably feeling a little nervous I was mad called me on his way to the movies to say he would take care of the chores when he got home. I went to bed angry and a sink full of dishes. In the morning I woke up to find the promises were not kept and I did the dishes. Angrier now he started to pick up on it and started to roll his eyes at me whenever I spoke to him. I couldn’t even talk to him about our oldest birthday party without feeling like I had to be on the defensive. I tried to suck it up and not be mad. But I was and jealous. I told him got eye rolling again. Then I gave him a gift, a book I wrote. He did say sorry. It was still a grumpy day but its ending better.
Day 20 – Him
Last night after such an amazing start to my day, I ended up taking my oldest daughter out on a “mini-date”. After her martial arts class, we went to the movies. It was a nice way to end the day and give me some one-on-one time with her. Today was a bit different however. My wife and I got into a disagreement over whether I was playing favorites with the older two since I would punish my son on the spot versus how I treat my oldest. I explained my thought process on why I didn’t immediately punish my daughter for something I told her to wait to do, but my wife took it as an excuse. I didn’t particularly like the way it was brought up, so I became withdrawn and didn’t really want to talk to her right afterwards. It wasn’t until she gave me my anniversary gift early did I turn my feelings toward her around. I loved her thoughtfulness and was taken back by the kind words she had written about me in a book she had made for me. I apologized for the way I had acted earlier in the day, but I don’t think that saying sorry at that moment really won my wife over since I should have done it sooner. Regardless, she accepted and I tried to be nicer to her throughout the rest of the day. I never want to hurt her or make her upset, but there are times where I say something or do something that irritates her and we start to fight because I don’t like how she reacts to certain things. I’m not perfect, but I want to keep working on finding what that feels like. My wife and I ended our day on a good note and I really hope I can keep the momentum up throughout the rest of this week we have together.
Day 21 – Her
We celebrated our anniversary last night. We were extra sweet to each other. We didn’t spend a ton of money on each other’s gifts; instead we made each other’s gifts. We felt it was more honest and romantic that way. It was a great day.
Day 21 – Him
I had an absolutely great day today. My wife and I celebrated our 10 year anniversary today. We decided this year that instead of buying each other gifts we would make each other something that was very special to us. She got me one of the best gifts I could ask for. I decided to make her a movie of our first 10 years together. She absolutely loved it. We decided to stay in with one another and enjoy each other’s company today and we’ll go out tomorrow to celebrate. We shared a few memories together and the day was filled with nothing but laughs and good times. It was a great day we’ll look back years from now to enjoy.
Day 22 – Her
I was completely impressed with my husband. We booked a dinner cruise for a romantic, ten year anniversary date. He stayed cool, calm and dashing all night long. Me on the other hand had a few mentions of panic when I realized that there was a prom night going on at the same time. Lucky it was on another boat. It was sweet of him to step out of his comfort zone and dance with me. I really appreciated all the extra patience and love he showed me.
Day 22 – Him
Our anniversary was yesterday, but we decided to go out to celebrate today. We decided to book us a dinner cruise. It was a new experience for us and thought it would be really romantic. My wife was really excited and took her time getting ready since she was looking forward to it. I tried cleaning up around the house, a little more than normal, so that we wouldn’t have to worry about it when we came back. We even got a babysitter who was willing to swing by early at the last minute so we could take our time getting to the boat. I’m certainly glad we left when we did. Our romantic experience was not off to a good start when we got to the parking lot and was at a complete standstill in traffic. People were inconsiderate and parking their cars in the road while they got out to either drop-off or pick up their passengers. To make matters worse, there was only one way into the lot itself, and you had to drive past it first, turn around, then pull in. Needless to say we couldn’t wait to get out of there! Finally on the cruise, we started to enjoy ourselves. It was a very nice experience. We sat to ourselves and just talked about whatever came up. We walked around the deck and took in the sights. Later into the cruise we were treated to an anniversary dance. The best part was that the live band actually played our wedding song! That was the cherry on top of an already great evening. I would say, despite the parking, this was a very successful and memorable night.
Please share your thoughts in the comment box below about this third blog. What implications do you see for your role as a Military Family Service Professional? What resources or strategies might be helpful for families?
Watch for Part 4 of 4 of this reintegration blog series, Importance of Support Network & Keeping Things in Perspective, which will be posted in one week.
To learn more about current research related to reintegration, issues military families face during reintegration, as well as how these findings may impact programs and policies check out this archived webinar, “The Experience of Reintegration for Military Families and Implications for DoD” held mid-May.
MFLN Family Transitions Development provides education, resources and networking opportunities for professionals working with military families to build resilience and navigate life cycle transitions. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Transitions on our website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.