Q. I just got home from my second deployment. I have been back two weeks and feel that I have taken too much out on my future husband (who is also military). The night before he left on TDY, we had a huge argument. We are getting married in six weeks, have been together two years and have both been on multiple deployments. I try to express to him that I am going through stuff and need space. He thinks that I am trying to push him away. I take anger out on him.

Before he left for his trip, we had a huge fight, and I started it. I haven’t adjusted to coming home yet. He adjusts well, and it always takes me time. It seemed as if he wasn’t understanding that. Now he is on his trip, and we are not speaking. He won’t call me … but I feel to blame. I have PTSD and don’t know what to do to make this right. I feel horrible. When he comes home, what should I do to help our relationship?

A. You have taken a positive step by taking ownership of your actions and your part in this conflict. That puts you on the right track for healing, for yourself and your relationship with your husband-to-be.

Have you been clinically diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder? If so, I hope that you are receiving appropriate treatment.

Not everyone who is deployed gets PTSD, but everyone who is absent from his or her "normal" life for an extended period — especially in a stressful military mission — will experience a readjustment period upon returning home.

Individuals react differently to this readjustment, as illustrated in the contrasting responses of you and your fiance. Each deployment is different, and that is a factor, but you would not react identically, even in an identical situation.

When you say your fiancé "adjusts well," that suggests to me that he makes his adjustments internally without much discussion. Perhaps your adjustments are more external and expressive. His response is not the lack of reaction or a more healthy reaction — it is simply a different reaction. Anger may still be present, but not expressed verbally.

When your fiancé returns, set aside time to sit down and discuss this. Don’t let it go unresolved as your wedding day draws closer. Tell him what you told me: You realize your anger was misdirected, you need time and space to readjust, and you aren’t pushing him away. Talk about the fact that you and he will not react to deployments in the same way.

Each of you needs permission from the other to have his or her own feelings about a given situation, to vent them or mull them over, as long as you process them in a healthy way without attacking each other. You may need some other resources to find those healthy ways.

Counseling is one of those resources. Perhaps you are already speaking to a minister in preparation for your wedding? If not, I encourage you to do so. Every couple can benefit from premarital counseling, with or without the added stress of deployment. Be open to continued counseling, individually or together, if it helps you work through your experiences.

Career, deployments, daily life — all these things will be intertwined for you as a dual military couple. You will have many common experiences, giving you an unique opportunity for mutual support, providing that you recognize your individuality and the need to process your experiences together, but differently.

Terri Barnes is a military wife and mother of three. She and her family are stationed in Germany. Spouse Calls appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. Write to her at and see the Spouse Calls blog at

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