Are you counting down the days? The days until your spouse returns from deployment and you’re finally reunited? I’ve been there! I know the anticipation, the excitement, and the relief. But I also know some other, more complicated and confusing, feelings slip in there too. So, if you’re also feeling nervousness, anxiousness, worry, stress or even dread, you’re not alone, and it’s nothing to feel bad about. Keep reading for five deployment reintegration tips for military wives to help you prepare your heart, mind, and home for your husband’s return from deployment.
5 Deployment Reintegration Tips for When Your Spouse Returns
All you’ve wanted for the past year is for your husband to come home. But now that he finally is, you’re feeling excited and nervous and stressed, and that makes you feel guilty. Your brain is likely asking you a ton of questions, like:
- What if everything is different?
- What if he doesn’t love me anymore?
- What if we don’t remember how to live together?
- What if he’s changed?
- What if I’ve changed?
- What if intimacy is difficult?
- What if we argue about how to handle finances?
- What if it goes poorly with the kids?
These questions intensify the worry, which intensifies the guilt. So, what do you do with all of your extremely valid feelings and questions? Try these five deployment reintegration tips to intentionally create the feelings you want to feel when your husband comes home.
1. Accept Your Feelings and Let Go of the Guilt
Your guilt isn’t helping you. It’s only hurting the situation and causing you more pain and negative experiences. So, the first step is to get rid of the guilt. And that starts by understanding, acknowledging, honoring, and accepting your feelings–all of them. You don’t need to judge your feelings, positive or negative. You don’t need to feel embarrassed or ashamed about your feelings, positive or negative. You don’t need to wonder if you’re crazy or the only one who feels the way you do. (This is such a common thing–most people get worried and stressed when reintegration is upon them, even when they are excited.) Once you accept your feelings for what they are and understand that excitement and nervousness can co-exist, the guilt starts to diminish.
2. Allow Your Feelings Space to Be
With the guilt gone (or on its way out), you can let the not-so-positive feelings about reintegration exist without feeling bad about them. You don’t need to fight or hide from them. Interestingly, when you try to shove down your negative feelings, your experience with them becomes more intense. So, when you let go of the guilt, you decrease the intensity of the nervousness, worry, and stress. Soon, they won’t carry the same weight because you’re allowing them to exist and not fighting them.
3. Comfort and Reassure Yourself
Your thoughts determine your reality. So, if you spend time thinking that reintegration will be hard and uncomfortable, it’s more likely to be true. But if you spend time believing that you can handle anything that arises, you’ll find comfort and peace. Each time your brain brings up a question, like “What if he’s changed?” or “What if I’ve changed?” give yourself an answer to reassure yourself. “If he’s different, I’ll adjust. If I’m different, he’ll adjust. Either way, we’ll make it work.”
4. Remember You’re Reintegrating Together
Just like you have your worries and fears and doubts, your spouse probably does too. No matter how well you know your partner, you may not be able to predict how they will handle all of this. They can’t really predict how they’ll handle this part, either. Even if this isn’t their first deployment, they may respond differently from their previous deployments. It’s important to remember that you are both going through the reintegration transition, and it isn’t easy. But you can feel better when you give your partner the benefit of the doubt and focus on yourself–your mental health, your behavior–rather than what you think they need to be doing.
5. Set Realistic Expectations and Give Grace
Reintegration isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be miserable either. The key is to focus on managing your mind and emotions and giving your spouse space to work through their feelings too. It’s essential to set expectations with yourself and trust that readjustment will come with time. It’s also important not to intentionally add a lot of extra hurt, drama, pressure, or stress to the situation by making the way they are behaving mean something about you. You both are going through entirely different experiences side-by-side. You are figuring out how to hand back roles and responsibilities you took over while they were gone. And they’re learning how to pick up those roles and switch their brain from life in a combat zone to regular life. Everyone deserves an extra sprinkle of patience, grace, and understanding during this time.
If you find yourself constantly pointing out your partner’s flaws or shortcomings (he isn’t doing this, he won’t stop doing this, I can’t believe he “fill in the blank,” why won’t he “fill in the blank”), then you know you are SUPER focused on him. You’re ignoring yourself when the truth is you both have things you can do to make the transition easier.
Navigate All Aspects of Military Wife Life with Simply Resilient Life Coaching
All of these deployment reintegration tips point to one main thing: You both need time and love and space and grace to work through the transition in your own way. All you can control is you–you have the power to choose to get through this period with more peace and less stress by managing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Of course, this is all much easier said than done, which is why I offer 1:1 military wife life coaching. I’d love to walk alongside you during deployment, reintegration, and beyond to help you learn how to thrive in each season of military life. Schedule a free mini-coaching session today to learn more!
Interested in diving into more content on this topic? Check out these Simply Resilient Podcast episodes:
- Pep Talk Series: When You’re Worried About Reintegration
- Episode 84 – Resentment
- Episode 65 – The Shame Blame Trap
- Episode 47 – The Benefit of the Doubt
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