How do you deal with a spouse just coming home from a deployment

Margaret - posted on 04/22/2010 ( 28 moms have responded )

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My husband just got back from a deployment and he is so in love with our daughter, but he refuses to do anything but play and he won't talk to me and he is being very distant to us. I am kinda nervous to tell him about how I feel. How to I ask him to do things without him yelling at me and what can I do about it.

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Alycia - posted on 04/22/2010

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I would let it be for now... we were told by more experiance Army wives that it takes 3 months from boots hitting US soil to get your man back... in our case it turned out to be very right. I would just let it be for now and ease into things around the 3 month mark

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Laurie - posted on 05/22/2010

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be patient! naturally most guys dont bond with their kids until their kids are old enough to do things with them that are fun to the husband...like sports and stuff...at least that is what i observed from my husband and our 3 year old!

Keri - posted on 05/22/2010

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Hi Margaret. I have been a Navy wife now for 15 yrs. and have experienced 2 6 month sea deployments as well as a 14 month deployment to Africa. The first month after the guys return is always an adjustment for all as emotions and expectations are high. I have learned it is best for us if daddy is treated as an honored guest in the home for the first few weeks. It takes a lot of the "pressure" off. You are probably feeling exhuasted from all of the work you've been doing to keep things going on the homefront and hoping for some relief. He is probably exhausted from his work and all of the stresses involved with traveling and is ready for some rest. You both need some time to readjust to each other and to get to know one another again. You both have grown in some ways and changed as you've been apart. Allow yourself some time to understand what those changes are for yourself as well as for your spouse. Talk about your expectations and how you are feeling, even if it is tough to do so. Allow him to gradually take over responsibilities in the home as opportunities arise and he chooses to do so. I wish you all the best. I understand what it is like and know it is not easy. Be patient and understanding and know that many others have been in your shoes and are more than willing to give you support and encouragement.

Jennifer - posted on 05/20/2010

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He is in shock.. when he left his daughter was younger. Things have changed while they were gone. Give him time to settle in and get reacquainted on his terms. Give it a couple months for him to rekindle those bonds and find his place. Don't give up hope, things do get better!

Keshia - posted on 05/20/2010

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Hang in there and be patient. Seek out military or civilian resources that will help you to work on how to approach your husband in a way that is non-threatening. It does take a while for the family to truly reintegrate appropriately. Hang in there! I'm cheering for you!

Tatum - posted on 05/20/2010

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My husband's brigade is having a marriage retreat when they get home. They have daycare and everything where they are going. You need to check with your FRG leader or the Rear D Chaplain. It's a great thing to do and have talked to my neighbor that did it when her husband got home and great success with it. It also helps with the kids too. Hope that helps. Every duty station maybe different, this was in Fort Lewis, WA. Definitely something to check into though. It doesn't cost little to anything at all. It may be completely paid for by the military,

Dr. Virginia - posted on 05/19/2010

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Good advice about the VA. It sounds like you have a VA with good programs and responses. Not all VA's are able to provide enough services to Vets unfortunately. They are a good place to start, especially when you work through the DAV people.

Dawne - posted on 05/18/2010

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Hi, My name is Dawne I'm a wife of a disabled Vet. My husband is A Sgt. Marine. he serviced 4yrs. in the marine corp. He did 2 tours back to back. And he came home April 20th 2007.
He was home for our son birth which was fed. 2 2007 and then he had to go back leave on the 8th to go back. Yes it was hard but I knew that we'd get through this. Me and our son who was still a baby at the time. We went to Cal april 19th 2007 where he was stationed at to visit him plus he was coming. So we decided to go to Cal. and come home with him cause he knew he was coming home for good. Yes it is hard for both to adjust to the change but communication is the #1 key in a relationship.
My advice to you is to contact the VA close to you and they will help you both. My husband goes to the VA for anything and they are very helpful. Our relationship and marriage has gotten better and stronger over the years. There have been times that my husband has had his bad days which is different than other people's bad days. We have a wonderful,sweet 3yr. old son. If my husband has his bad days our son will go up to his daddy and try to make him feel better but there are times that doesn't even work. me, little one and hubby would go to his dr. appts. with him. And it helps me and us. And to this day we are still together and even stronger. But our advice to you is to see if there's a VA close to you guys and they will help you.
We're been together for 6yrs. and married for 3 going 4yrs. it may not seem that long but to us it is. I'm 28 and his 26 but he feels like his 40.
If you need to talk I'm here.
everything will be k and everything will turn out for the good.
My email address is princessweida@yahoo.com I'm on facebook and yahoo messenger as well.

Dr. Virginia - posted on 05/05/2010

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I agree Tonya. Keeping communication open with no pressure is a good way to go.

Virginia Rockhill, Ph.D.

Elizabeth - posted on 05/05/2010

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Been through that the best thing you can do is let him adjust to his family life and settle down. When the men go on deployment they have a set schedule everyday allday they don't get a chance to relax now that hes home its strange to him that he can relax. If he dosen't adjust well you can try talking to him or there's an program me and my husband went to call yellow ribbon ceremony for all soldiers and theirs spouses it help you find the "new normal" because face it once he went over everything changed and your lifestyles clashed when he got back.

Shaylynn - posted on 05/04/2010

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I would just leave it alone, he will come around and things will go back to normal. Fortunately, my husband told me he would need some 'alone' & 'me' time to readjust to being home. I guess having the open communication helps a great deal.

Dorsha - posted on 05/04/2010

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We... my bottle so to speak... got to full and yeah... steamed on him, but it was good.. he is really stepping up

Tonja - posted on 05/04/2010

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Men find it easier to reconnect with children because children don't have expectations. Especially in a case where a child is little and men can just relax. It's not as easy with spouses where they know there are expectations and they are unsure if they can live up to them. Just ease into it and give him time and try to keep communication open without being pressuring.

Dr. Virginia - posted on 05/01/2010

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Dorsha,

Computer networking sounds like he probably knows a lot of high security stuff and details of ops. It was probably a very high stress job that consumed a lot of his emotional resources. he is probably very intelligent to have a job like this. If he wasn't like this before deployment, then even though he wasn't combat, the lifestyle he had there obviously changed his temperament. He is still having trouble adjusting from the "precision" of deployment to the "laidback" civilian life. Even though the contrast from the ideal dad/husband to the withdrawn video guy is so dramatic, it sounds like he is trying to be that person when he can. It may be that watching video screens (games or tv) is a "safe" way he can escape, because we all feel better when we do something that is familiar.That's good he doesn't drink. Your feelings are normal, waiting for something good to happen but feeling that it may not ever happen. People tend to "prepare themselves" for the worst rather than be disappointed. Don't give up hope that he won't become that person you want him to become. Marines are probably the most disciplined people in the world. It's harder for them to show their feelings as a result, but they still have him, just buried deeper inside.

Virginia Rockhill, Ph.D.

Dorsha - posted on 05/01/2010

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He isn't combat. He is in computer networking stuff. He always says its the safest job in the USMC. And he would never "self medicate" he drinks a beer here or there.. but never more than one a day... I just feel like I am holding on to something, waiting for something that isn't going to happen. And like twice he has had these days where he is totally dad/husband of the year. But that just makes everyother day that much harder. To see how we can be, and how far we are from that. And I think it makes it harder on our son. He sees daddy all playful and fun, and then nothing..

Dr. Virginia - posted on 05/01/2010

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Your husband does not trust himself with your son (or you for that matter). By that I mean, in order for your husband to "let go" and play with your son, who is totally innocent, it means he would have to put displace not only the memories, but the strong emotions associated with those memories. Most combat veterans do come home with PTSD, some guys have more than others. This means that he can't put the memories in the past right now and still has the emotions associated with those memories, which are mainly fear and anger. Many guys don't know how to partition off those feelings from the present, the difference between "that was then and this is now". It's like a guitar string which is pulled so tight that any pressure on it might cause it to snap. That is what he is afraid of doing with your son and you, so he "hides" in tv and video games. Try to keep you son engaged with other activities and kids until his dad is ready to spend time with him. Unfortunately, you can't force your husband to get help, which it sounds like he may need. PTSD is treatable. It sounds like you are a good mom and are recognizing your son's needs, that's great. One good thing is that your son is still young and by the time he is old enough to really do stuff with this dad, your husband should be better adjusted to civilian life. Some guys take longer than others. Be sure he doesn't "self-medicate" with alcohol or other substances to relieve the memories. Always feel free to write me. Virginia Rockhill, Ph.D.

Dorsha - posted on 05/01/2010

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He has been back since December... And I know things had to be hard over their, but I feel like he is doing very little to help raise our son. I don't care that it isn't fair to me that I have to do so much, I hate that its not fair to our son, I mean my husband left when my son was two weeks old, and got back when he was almost nine months.. he worships the ground his daddy walks on, and his daddy would rather play video games or watch TV then spend time with our son

Dr. Virginia - posted on 05/01/2010

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Dorsha, How long has it been since he has returned home? It sounds like he is still has the "military attitude" and cognitively perceives the world as everything being "life or death" in seriousness, and that everything in his life needs to be precision. Because of this, when you speak to him, he may be perceiving what you have to say as being "meaningless" and "unimportant" in "real life". Of course, this is not the case, but only what he may be thinking at this time. He needs more time to adjust. Give him the space he needs. Don't ask a lot of questions about what he did or saw but just say you are there if he ever wants to talk. Let him know you know that he needs time and ask him to let you know what he needs on his schedule. This is a very difficult time for both of you and your children. if they are old enough, they will notice the difference in their dad. I always tell my patients that even though it's not fair, I believe that the woman has to carry most of the emotional load in raising a family. So if you feel it's not fair, you are right. God made us the stronger gender for a reason, and this is your time to use the inner strength that is there within you! It's not easy but have faith in yourself. Please feel free to write me again if I can help. Virginia Rockhill, Ph.D.

Dorsha - posted on 05/01/2010

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I am on the same page... I don't know what to do.. And the few times I say something, its like he totally ignores me or gets way more angry than he should

Dr. Virginia - posted on 04/28/2010

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This is not unusual for someone coming back from deployment, especially if combat was involved. Not knowing anything about your husband, as a Clinical Psychologist who used to work at a VA hospital, I am very familiar with this behavior. Your husband likely has PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and will need a lot of time to adjust to being back home. Don't crowd him or try to walk behind him and hug him; you would mean to show affection, but to a person with PTSD, this could trigger an aggressive physical response from him. His military life was based on precision, his civilian life is relaxed and more laid back. This in and of itself can create a lot of anger. For example, if he had to do something at a particular time while in the military, he had to be absolutely precise about the time or else there could be serious consequences and lives could be lost. At home, when we say we'll be someplace at a certain time, if we're a few minutes late it's usually no big deal. But to the returning combat veteran it is because they are still in "military mode" and something as innocuous as being a few minutes late is a disaster for them. He likes being with your daughter not only because he loves her and missed her, but because she is totally innocent and safe for him. For you own information, I am doing a BlogTalkRadio show today, Wed 4/28 at 5:30 pm EST on PTSD. If you can't listen to the live show where you can call in with questions, you can access the archive show by: www.blogtalkradio.com/BalancedLiving with Dr. Virginia......Feel free to contact me if you have more questions. Virginia Rockhill, Ph.D.

Cassie - posted on 04/27/2010

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My husband has been on 2 deployments and our daughter has been little for both of them. It takes them awhile to get back into the habit of thinking of us as his family and not his sailors. Sometimes I still have to remind him. I wouldn't push him to do anything with your daughter or you to much because he wasn't "in" on your routine for the last however many months. He has to find his place again. Have you guys taken any time away since he's been home? My husband and I try to do that after every deployment even if it's just for 2 days.

Andrea - posted on 04/27/2010

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As a LINKS mentor, I teach couples how to reconnect after deployments and how to deal with them. I offer this advice to you. The most vital part of any relationship is communication. Without communication, a relationship has the potential to die and that is especially true for us military spouses. If you find yourself struggling to communicate with your spouse, use the resources to help you. Militaryonesource.com is a great source to find anything. You can use it to get marriage counseling free of charge. Also both of you can go to your chaplain on base if that is more comfortable for you and that too is free. There are plenty of sources you can use to make your situation better. Maybe these resources can help you with your problem. Hope this helps.

Jessica - posted on 04/27/2010

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I agree with everyone else. Just like it was a huge adjustment to have him leave, it's another huge adjustment for the whole family to have him back. If you just hang in there he'll come back around. I know you're eager to resume the life you had before he left, but unfortunately, you'll probably have to hang in there a few more months. Best of luck to you and your family!!

Christie - posted on 04/25/2010

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how long has he been home? It is not unusual for them to go thru some changes, even be distant and on guard, he was in a war zone and saw more than anyone should have to. It is sometimes hard for them to readjust to living a some what normal life again. They had to constantly be on guard over there, and depending on where he is stationed he may already know he will be leaving again so this will be on his mind. When my husband came home , they already had a window of redeployment before they got off the plane here. Honestly I would let him be for now and give him some time to adjust to being home, let him enjoy his daughter, and he will come around to you too. He may feel that he is overstepping which may be why all he does is play. give it a few months, and if nothing has changed then maybe re-evaluate the situationa nd then maybe talk to him. But for now things are very normal. tell him welcome home from all of us.

Jenny - posted on 04/25/2010

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Time will be your best friend right now and patience too. Coming home from deployment is an adjustment not only for the soldier but for the spouse left behind during deployment and for the children too. Everyone is having to adjust schedules and emotions and everything else that comes with being separated during hard times. He is getting used to having a bed again, having food always available, not waking up to mortar rounds, not having his gun glued to his side every where he goes, and learning about his daughter who probably fascinates him. He doesn't know what routine you've had all this time and he's probably done things while on deployment that have touched him deeply and he isn't ready yet to talk about. These are the things I went throuh with my husband. A car door at night would wake him from a sound sleep thinking it was a mortar round. Time, patience, love, and encouragement are what's in order for a little while. And if you still have issues...the chaplain is great to talk to. Your husband doesn't have to go. This could be just for your peace of mind. And the chaplain may have other advice too since the unit chaplain will have been with your husband during deployment.

[deleted account]

I have to echo the other ladies, give him time. when you say play, what does that involve - is it healthy play or I need to escape? Offer to play with him, kinda like little kids. Sometimes it is easier for men to share in a nonthreatening situation. Don't ask him to do things, ask what things you can do for him. I found my husband became aware of me as his partner again once he saw me giving to him. Many of the men have to shutdown their sensativity to women and children depending on their mission so they can do their job. If this persists get help from the professionals.

Erin - posted on 04/24/2010

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the deployment was hard on you both, i'm sure, and it takes time and patience to get back into the groove of things. you probably don't really know what he experienced while deployed and you're both trying to process being together again and how to make it work. when my husband came home we would get together w/ his platoon and we wives would sit back while the guys talked about what happened in iraq. it gave us a better insight to them and it allowed the guys to just release. i let my husband know that i was there for him if he ever wanted to talk b/c the situation was hard on us both, but also that i was happy he was home and our family was together. just respect the fact that it will take time. it will get better, just ease into it.

Vicki - posted on 04/23/2010

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I would let it go for now. I had the same thing happen to me my daughter was about six months when my husband came back. It took a few weeks for him to get back to the same. He is trying to make up for all the time he has loss. If you need to talk I will be here. I am on face book a lot. Everything will be fine.

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