When Josh got home, we were so excited. I spent weeks keeping the secret of his homecoming bottled inside because it was so uncertain, and then I had just a few days to prepare for his arrival when we realized it was really happening. Expectations were high. And I did not think at all what might happen after we picked him up at the airport.
That night, Josh handed me a pamphlet called "Returning Home: Making Your Reunion a Good One." As I read it, I wondered why I did not have access to the pamphlet in the weeks leading up to his return. It would have been so helpful!
Josh felt out of the loop in many aspects of our life. He did not know where he fit anymore. In many ways I had literally edged him out of our room. All his little piles were off the dresser. His side of the bed now had twinkly lights the kids gave me. Our room had become my online yoga studio space. He did not have enough hangers for his clothes as I might have acquired a few new things.
I had a million things to talk to Josh about but felt that if I approached him too quickly, he would be completely overwhelmed. This turned out to be very true. And I had no way to understand what he had gone through. All I could think that he should be wanting to spend every waking minute with us.
Josh was jet lagged and overwhelmed by the noise and the work of having to unpack from six months of being gone. I was all of sudden exhausted. My body was finally moving out of "survival" mode and the pressure of six months of handling things on my own crashed in on me. I found it disconcerting that I could not remember if Josh had been around for certain events or purchases for the house that we had made. Did they happen before or during the deployment and why could I not remember?
We had made new family routines that would probably shift now that Josh was home. I did not necessarily tell him about all these little changes because they just evolved as I figured things out. And I noticed that reunion would not be a single event at the airport as I had seen pictured in my friends Instagram accounts (and which I posted in mine.) Our reunion would happen over time. Josh and I would need to rely on each other again. The kids would need to spend time with him one on one. We would need to learn to communicate our needs again and share household tasks. We would need to have fun together. And this could not all happen in one day.
I wish I would have been able to set aside the day we picked Josh up from the airport to do nothing else but be together as a family. As it turned out, Bear had a Christmas dance performance to attend. So we left Josh at home to unpack. This was probably alright in retrospect. He had some quiet to unpack and sort his things. I wish that we could have just focused on our family that next day as well. Instead, Josh spent hours at work doing paperwork so he could take R and R, I taught four yoga sessions, and the kids did school at home. Josh came home frustrated, hungry, and exhausted from the red tape and jet lag. I still had not had a quality conversation with Josh and that was not the moment. My expectations were too high.
Then we get to the finances. We did not see any of Josh's deployment pay until after deployment. I spent six months doing what I do well; making my life easier by paying for convenience. Josh does not function in this way, this is why it is good we have each other to balance things out. Real conversations needed to be had about how to go forward with our money management now that Josh was home. No more weekly Door Dash, no more monthly road trip adventures, no more yard care service. Now we could work together. Now we could discuss what adventures to save for as a family. Adjustments needed to be made because I was no longer in survival mode and "treat myself because I deserve it" mode.
But really, we are going to be just fine. This is not the hardest time our marriage has ever had. This is just another moment that we will come through. And we really do love each other, see?
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