CONTRIBUTED BY JANNINE MYERS
“Don’t sweat it honey, I got it………”
It occurred to me the other evening that my husband’s frequent deployments have done wonders for my survival adeptness. As I was in the kitchen preparing dinner, I heard faint but agitated mumblings pouring out of my husband’s mouth. When I turned around to see what the source of frustration was, I saw my husband messing about under the computer desk, phone in one hand, and cable wires in the other. I asked him what was wrong, and he yelled back, “The @*#% phone isn’t working!” To which I replied, “Oh, let me get that for you”. A few seconds later, I was back in the kitchen and my husband was waiting for the recipient of his call to pick up the phone and answer. Do you think he was grateful for my helpful intervention? He was actually, but I could tell that it also bothered him a little.
So I got to thinking, why would my husband be bothered by an action which was done out of the kindness of my heart, and with a genuine desire to help him. And then the thoughts began to roll through my mind, a stream of events which toppled upon each other into one big heap.
I recalled the numerous times he had returned from deployments and we were out driving somewhere, he in the driver’s seat and me on the passenger side giving directions to places he had already been to. He would remind me that even though he had been gone for several months, he still knew how to get to where we were going. I would then tell him, “Yes honey, but since you’ve been gone I’ve learned all the shortcuts and we should go that way.”
I also recalled times when he would attempt to assist our youngest daughter with certain activities she was engaged in, only to be swiftly told, “I know what I’m doing Daddy, Mommy already showed me!” Or times when I’ve seen him look so bewildered at a parent/teacher conference, a doctor’s appointment, or even at the bank or tax agency because he couldn’t answer a question which would probably have been a no-brainer if he were home twelve months of the year.
It even dawned on me that the initiative I took to replace his dying car battery while he was in the States last week may bruise his ego just a little a more. After all, it wasn’t too long ago (in pre-deployment days) that he was the one responsible for maintaining our vehicles.
So while I am proud to say that I have come a long way over the years in terms of taking care of myself and children, I have also forgotten to give my husband credit for the sacrifices he has had to make every time he’s had to deploy. The sacrifices he makes go beyond that of defending his country; he also misses out on the simple privilege of serving his family, a privilege which is perhaps taken for granted by some fathers who have never had to leave their families for more than a day or two at most. It is for this reason that I wanted to write this post and say thank you to my husband, and all the men and women out there who must forfeit their parent/spouse role every time they deploy, and in doing so miss out on the special memories created by those of us who are left behind.
I’m so glad I read this post. My hubby is coming home in a few days and it’s nice to be reminded about this issue, despite past homecomings. I don’t typically learn my lesson after only one time…
Thanks ladies for all your comments. I have to really learn to step back and let my husband step in when he’s home; it’s just been a little difficult because he is one of the more frequently deployed marines who is gone more than he is home. But I like your “code word” idea Dasha, maybe we should try something like that. I have a terrible feeling though that the “code word” might come up quite frequently, and not from me! Still, it might be just what I need.
As for your situation Anne, I wish I could offer some ideas but that’s a tough one. Maybe just directly addressing the issue with him and seeing if you can both reach some compromises might help? Good luck to you!
This can be such a difficult thing to figure out when your spouse comes home. My husband has been home for a little over a month now and I’ve really had to keep a check on my tendency to do it all myself. He’s actually enjoyed the fact that I know my way around the island better than he does, but that’s mostly because I tend to have a really AWFUL sense of direction so he’s just proud that I threw myself out there and got comfortable getting lost. But I’ve been trying to make him feel needed as much as I can too. Everyday I’m saying “Honey, can you give me a hand with (fill in the blank)”….I think he missed doing the “man” things around the house. And I try to tell him often how glad I am that he’s back and how nice it is to not have to be “on duty” constantly. And I have to say that it’s good for me to step back and let someone else take care of things. I just have to keep in mind all the time that he’s stepping back into our little world and it can’t be easy, so we have to make some room for him 🙂
Jannine, I asked my husband about this – and he said it is a very, very deep question. There is a fine line between a “self-sufficient” spouse and one who feels they don’t need a mate at all. Husbands and wives each need to feel needed in a marriage.
Rob says deployment is like taking a snapshot before he leaves, expecting to come home to the same picture, only to find everything has changed and he feels out of place.
It’s very important that couples talk about the new emotions they are feeling after a deployment (not always easy for some of us!), and come up with strategies to deal with them together. What you’re trying to do is re-draw the lines of responsibility, where both of you can be happy with the change.
I wish I could say we do this perfectly every time. However, that’s not the case, so we’ve come up with a code word, to identify the times one of us has crossed over the newly established boundary line. The code word is recognized by both of us as an instant “You’re doing ‘it’ again!” without needing any other explanation.
It helps that we are the very best of friends, and realize that just because one of us knows a better way to do something doesn’t mean the other person has to do it that way! It’s perfectly OK to have separate ways of doing the same thing. (For example, even though you know a short cut, let your hubby go his way! The next time you’re driving, show him the shortcut.)
We apply this theory (that it’s OK to do things differently) to everything from cooking to child rearing to car maintenance. We give each other the freedom to do it our own way, and its helped both of us create and fit into the new picture of post-deployment life.
I think this is the hardest part on deployments is allowing someone to step back in and assume the duties they once did. I had our child while my husband was gone. It is going to be difficult to let him step in and help out. I do it fine on my own and I he will have his own way about things. I know i will have to just step back and let him learn his own way of things. We just get so used to it and get in our own routines. Sometimes, it can be a difficult transition back.
I know exactly what you mean with this post although my experience in the same situation has been quite different. In my case, my husband has gotten so used to me taking responsibilty for everything from car maintenance to finances to home repair to everything else that when he is home, he continues to leave it all to me. Then, I feel like a nag when I constantly ask for more help…I wish I had some better strategies to even the work load when he is home…