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Adjusting To Having Them Home

After months and months of counting down, the excitement to get them home will be huge. Just as you imagine the moment they leave over and over in your head, you will probably have a mental picture in your mind of how the big “reunion” will take place.


We would all love a bit of the Richard Gere treatment – but the reality is quite often not so romantic!!


After the immediate hug, there might be a bit of embarrassment and moments where you don’t really know what to say to each other.


A big part of making their return a happy time is to know what to expect. Don’t be too disappointed if things aren’t quite as romantic as you had hoped.


For partners, you have essentially been single for the last 6/7 months. You have been through the pain of them going, got yourself into a routine and coped pretty damn well if you don’t say so yourself. And then, they come home and want things to be just as they were when they left, and of course, things are not the same. These different expectations are where you could have some problems.


As families and friends we will not be able to fully understand what they have been through and equally, they will probably not give you credit for how hard it has been to be at home. Particularly if they have had a difficult tour, their mental state is possibly heightened, their reactions to everyday situations could be a little unpredictable and their level of aggression unfamiliar. It is perfectly normal for them to be sensitive to noise and crowds. All of this will settle down over time.




As a forces family, you will be used to “adjusting”. Think of all the new houses, new friends (even a new country and language sometimes) that you have had to deal with and remember how after a short period, it began to feel normal again. 


And for parents, understand if they need some space and would rather be out having a beer with their mates. As always, try not to take their behaviour personally, it certainly won’t be meant that way.



It would not be unusual for them to completely shut down when they get home and don’t be surprised if don’t want to talk about their experiences. They may have seen some horrific things and it could be because they simply want to forget about it, it could also be because they don’t want to upset you.


The advice is always to give them space and time but do encourage them to talk to you about their tour. Research shows that it does help them cope with what has happened. Try and pick your moments to chat, wait until the kids are in bed and you have some quiet time. And just try to let them tell you in their own time. It will probably come out bit by bit and each time they will share a bit more.


If you find that it has been a few months and life hasn’t returned to normal, or you are really worried about either of you being able to adjust to being together again, then check out our HELP! section. Or get chatting with other wives and families – a problem shared and all that ………… 


It can take a good few weeks for everything to settle down and for the first month; don’t panic if things don’t feel “normal” yet. There will be a period of adjustment for both of you and the children. When a parent deploys, some kids take up the responsibility left behind. Then when the parent returns, they lose a role that they were really getting good at.

Allow them to keep up that role if it is possible or they may feel their nose is put out of joint. One minute they are needed and the next they are not.

Children tend to grow pretty fast but you have naturally seen their progression without noticing it. Daddy has missed all of that so when he comes home it can be like seeing a child who does things they have learned to do in that space of time and he has not been a part of that. It might be hard to adjust to it plus a child has got into a routine of managing and getting used to him not being involved. They probably have become more independent in quite a few ways. For most it is not a problem but for a few it could be quite a step that makes a big difference. Try to remember that these things need to be gently handled without too much fuss without the child noticing.