Our Homecoming Truth
This past year was the hardest of our lives. If you have been keeping up with my posts or have read my story you know that we experienced our first unaccompanied year tour. That means my husband left five day’s after his second child was born and was literally halfway around the world for an entire year. We were lucky because he was able to come home for three weeks halfway through but he still missed our daughter’s baby milestones, both kids’ birthdays, holidays and those little moments that happen everyday that we take for granted.
Fast forward to three months ago and we were finally reunited as a family of four for the first time! Of course, this was after he spent almost two days traveling back to the country and then to our new station. After I had knee surgery, drove both kiddos to New Jersey (A huge shout out to my loving parents who were finally close enough to help us and my soul sista Tara for helping me move us into our new home) waited for our shipments, and started my business up again. All the while, my husband was jet lagged, starting his new position, adjusting to life with two toddlers and having a wife again to come home to.
I didn’t know that I would feel lonely even though the love of my life was finally back safe.
I knew that there would be a period of adjustment. I knew there would be a time that we needed to learn how to be together. I knew I would still have to bear the weight of the parenting until he adjusted. I knew we both are stubborn and have our own way of doing things. I knew that we had to teach ourselves to be open again, to include each other and give each other grace as we went about our routines. I knew we had to get used to sleeping next to one another again. I knew we had to accept each others flaws again. I didn’t know it would be this difficult.
I didn’t know that I would resent being put in the position I was in for a year. Not resentment toward my husband but to this lifestyle we chose to do and will continue to do. I didn’t know that we would have to work at talking to each other again. I mean actually having a conversation that wasn’t forced. I didn’t know it would be so hard to feel in-sync again. That I would feel lonely even though the love of my life was finally back safe. And then feel guilty because my husband did come back. I didn’t know we would fight as much as we have. I didn’t expect that the kids would reflect our emotions as much as they have. I didn’t think I would feel like we were back to the beginning of our marriage. I didn’t think we would go back to marriage counseling.
After six years of marriage and having the entire marriage be a “military marriage” I will say that one thing has held us together: agreeing that giving up was never an option. From the beginning, long before our lives shifted to military life, we made this promise to one another. I don’t think we realized how important this step was for our engagement, then marriage, and now military marriage. We have always valued communication and once we made the commitment to one another we realized how difficult it was to communicate successfully. Full disclosure: We were TERRIBLE at it! Because we are complete opposites, the way that I receive love/information/conflict is completely different than the way my partner does. We had to go to counseling to learn how to communicate with one another in a way that we both were receptive. We wouldn’t be together today if we didn’t put in the work that our marriage needed.
This is our homecoming truth: we are still working on rebuilding our relationship. It is easy to focus on the day of homecoming (I will be the first to admit that a good homecoming video with Milkids, family or pets who are reunited with their service member is something that I will always ugly cry to) however, let’s be real about what that homecoming day actually means. Our family is fortunate enough to not have had a separation in a war zone. My husband has been fortunate enough not to have seen battle. But it is always in the back of our heads that that is a possibility—especially with the decision to make this military life a career. Homecoming marks the beginning of the reintegration journey. This is a mental, physical, spiritual journey that effects the entire family unit. It is something that sometimes will be a lifetime struggle, a lifetime impact, and a long road to healing.
As we are literally in the middle of our reintegration journey as I am typing this, I can say that it is difficult. But the best things in life are difficult. The things that are the hardest to achieve are usually the best things. So for those of you out there that are struggling or in the same boat, I would encourage you to keep trying. Find something that your partner and you can work at to improve your situation. That could be anything from making a commitment to a date night every month, to working out together, to staying up later than normal because it is the only time you and your partner are alone, or just committing to never giving up on your marriage. It will get better. Never give up on something you know is worth it.