Spouse Calls: Post-deployment strife is normal
My husband just returned from deployment. I am very happy he is safe at home, but now that he’s been back a few days, it seems like we argue all the time. He acts like I don’t know how to do things that I have been doing by myself for several months! What is wrong with us?
— P.T., Los Angeles
You are not alone. A few days after my husband came back from his most recent deployment, I breathed this silent prayer: “Lord, thank you for bringing him home safely. Now, please help me not to kill him!” Putting a family back together is stressful. No matter how joyous the reunion, getting used to each other again takes some time.
When active-duty spouses are deployed, those of us who keep the home fires burning have to make adjustments in the way we think and the way we live from day to day. Those adjustments help us cope with the separation. We fill loneliness with activity and reliance with independence. Ironically, the very things that help us cope with separation may be the things that cause friction when we are reunited. While you may want recognition that you have done a good job keeping things together in his absence, he may want to be reassured that you still need him.
Also, be aware that the transition from combat to peaceful family life is a difficult one. If your spouse was in a combat zone, he is shifting from survival mode to a life of comparative luxury that a short time ago was only a dream. There may also be guilt about being safe at home while others are still in harm’s way.
Both of you need time to readjust. Slow down if your schedule is too busy. Spend time together. Talk about what you both have learned and how you may have changed during the deployment. This is not easy and takes time, even in the strongest relationship. Long separations can aggravate pre-existing marital problems, as well as create new ones. In many cases, counseling from someone experienced in post-deployment issues can be very helpful.
Are there any special requirements or regulations for home schooling at overseas installations? Are home schooled children eligible to participate in extracurricular activities through DODDS — such as band, art, Jr. ROTC, sports?
— Kelley Craver, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
“Yes” to both of your questions. First, the regulations: “It is mandatory that home schoolers contact their school liaison officer,” said Dennis Bohannon, public affairs officer at DODDS-Europe. He said school liaisons at each installation can provide necessary paperwork and answer specific questions about home schooling at their location.
Second, the activities: Home-schooled students are eligible to use school facilities and programs of DODDS schools in their district, according to information on the DODEA Web site. Bohannon said schools are usually “very receptive” to allowing home schooled students to use educational facilities, such as the library. He said participation in extracurricular activities depends on space and availability and is decided by each school on a case-by-case basis. His advice: “Individuals should contact their local schools if they wish to participate in school programs.” My advice: Inform yourself. Read the home school directive at www.dodea.edu.schools/brs.htm. Click on “Home Schooling Policy.”
Terri Barnes has traveled around the United States and the world, first as a military child and now as a wife and mother of three. At the latest count, her family has attended 24 different schools, K-12. She and her family now live in Germany, where her husband is stationed at Ramstein, Air Base. Her column appears weekly in Stars and Stripes. Send questions or comments to email@example.com.