Deployments are hard. They take your best friend away from you for weeks, months, even years at a time. They test your resilience and make you want to scream. Communication is sometimes limited and you feel let down more than you’d like to. But they can be worth it in the long run. They make your love stronger, they help your partner improve, and they show you just how independent you can be.

Deployments are hard, but they don’t last forever.

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This. This is what it looks like when it’s your first wedding anniversary & your husband is deployed. This is what it looks like when your husband makes every effort to make all of this “normal.” This is what it looks like when he talks you into a FaceTime date at a restaurant & you start crying as soon as you sit down because it all feels too real that you can’t celebrate together. This is what it looks like when he says “my idea of our first wedding anniversary celebration was to take you on a date & surround you with love.” This is what it looks like when he says “as much as I’d love to be there, I can’t. So there are a handful of people that love you to surround you with love tonight in my place, because no pretty girl deserves to sit alone.” This is what happens when your families, your support systems, your biggest fans show up with flowers & a card & yell surprise. This is what it’s like to ugly cry in Olive Garden & sob for a good 10 minutes. This is what it all looks like. It looks like the good, the bad, the hard to handle, & the silver linings. This is what it looks like when you marry the man that makes all of your dreams come true & fights every day to make the world a brighter place. This.

What no one tells you about the reintegration process:

1. It is overwhelming for them to be home again.
-Though they are excited, they can also feel anxious. These feelings are often mistaken because of the excitement that surrounds the homecoming.
2. They don’t quite know where they fit in because they have been gone for so long.
-Give them time to find their place again. They aren’t ready for everything and all responsibilities at once.
3. Let them sleep.
-They are usually jet lagged and/or haven’t slept well in months. If you let them sleep the first 48 hours as much as they can/want, they will be less zombie-like afterwards.
4. They will question things/processes.
-It’s natural. Before they left, routines may have been done differently or not existed at all. Be patient when explaining–it’s usually without malicious intent that they ask why you do that thing that way now.
5. Sometimes, they come back a little too aware.
-Certain noises, talking about work or extremely large crowds can be triggers for anxiety–they usually don’t realize it until it’s happening. Again, be patient and talk to them calmly about it. I usually, gently rub my husband’s arm and smile at him. It’s a form of “grounding” (bringing him back to reality) without having to use words.
6. Finally, both of you have changed.
-Months and months went by, you both changed a bit: that’s okay. You had to manage without them & keep everything going and they had to work 20 hour days while sleeping in a shitty rack/cot. Give yourself and them the opportunity to reconnect and talk about all that happened while they were away.