Written by Angela Caban,
Your servicemember is called for training or deployment, regardless of how long it is something that is out of your normal day to day routine. When your servicemember has returned home, how hard can it be to transition back to civilian life? Just take off your uniform, hang it up and go back to normal life, if only it were this simple for families. Many servicemember don’t have any problems transitioning back to civilian life, although many do at times. Families also struggle with not only trying to maintain a normal and well balanced life for themselves and children, but also for their spouse.
One thing that is sure with National Guard and Reserve families is that the transition from active duty to civilian life is always a struggle. There are many obstacles that await us, and yes your soldier also deals with many. Even after 15 years of my husband being in the military, 6 of those years being spent in the National Guard, you would think that transition would be simple. It isn’t, for either or us.
When your servicemember is away – no matter what the length of time, there are always hurdles that we must overcome. But as quickly as they left, they are home once again and it is up to you to either loose it completely or smooth back into your routine (servicemember included).
Life off Post: Since Guard and Reserve families don’t live on post and sometimes nowhere near one, finding other support and resources can be difficult. This is when we reach out to our servicemembers unit FRG leader and connect, and once life has returned back to normal keep connecting with others. Just because your spouse is back doesn’t mean you have to cut all strings to the military. I think the more involved you stay, the easier the transition will be the next time around.
Single Parenting: Once upon a time you were a happy family that did everything together and had life sorted out. Once those orders hit your servicemember and they are gone life as you knew it is now something you would have never imagined living in. Appointments, school functions, homework, activities, birthdays, anniversaries, and parties are now something that you must become a pro at. And doesn’t it almost become a nuisance when your servicemember returns and wants to help out? You figure you have handled things so well alone for so long, why bother. Well it is obvious that regardless of the overwhelming feeling you get at first the easiest way to transition is always by taking it slowly. Learn to let your spouse slowly help out by taking the kids out for the afternoon and enjoying the quiet time at home. Let them in on the schedule so that they feel connected to the family again, it isn’t easy for them either. Many times my husband told me that he felt like an intruder.
Juggling Act: House chores include it all, even mowing the lawn and taking out the trash which most likely was something you did not need to do before you spouse left. And because many spouses will not ask for help, they take on the burden of doing it. Many burn out quickly, where others will just keep on going feeling needed and as if staying so busy will help the time go by. And keeping busy does help with time – but remember that regardless of if you have children or not, a break is needed. So once your servicemember is back, don’t be afraid to ask them to pitch in again with the chores. If anything this will help with the transition for them and it is also a great way to help you slow down when the past few months you have been on full speed.
Communicate and Connect: Sometimes the hardest part of transitioning is remembering that your relationship with your spouse goes beyond text messaging and Skype. Whether you are talking about your day or things that have happened while they were away, keep them I the loop. The hardest part for my husband and I was always finding something interesting to talk about, many times he thought his day was boring so therefore didn’t think he needed to share it with me. I begged him to because it was important to connect with him again after a long 6 months of being apart and having only 2 minutes conversations a week. And of course ask them to do the same, as long as they feel comfortable with it. Many times there are certain things your spouse may not want to share about a deployment, but trust there are many things they will!
For more on Angela Caban, visit her website at www.angelacaban.com.
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