It’s no secret that coming home from deployment can be just as trying as being away. The hard part about this? Oftentimes spouses who’ve been home all along simply don’t understand how or why this is the case, which complicates things further and causes strife in an already stressed household. It’s a great idea to be proactive in handling your return – what it will be like, and how to make it as seamless as possible.

Involve Counselors

The best thing you can do is accept help from a counselor, and encourage your spouse to do the same. You must recognize that you’re brain and body are processing a transition that is expectedly challenging to handle healthily without help. You likely already feel that the only person that can help you transition smoothly is someone who’s been through what you’re going through. This is why we recommend you reach out to a counselor employed by the military who can assist you through the process. Likewise – your spouse should seek the same help, either from someone who’s been through it before, or the spouse of someone who’s been through it before (who, of course, has the credentials to help). In both of you actively seeking to understand the other’s position, the whole process will be much smoother than it would otherwise.

Journal Frequently

You’ll catch yourself in moments of thought about life overseas, probably quite frequently. If you were in combat, this can be consuming. It’s important that you have an outlet, other than your time with a counselor. Consider buying a journal for you to write down your thoughts, at a minimum; eventually move to writing down your feelings. Getting those thoughts out that ricochet through your mind will help you in letting them go.

Be Gently Honest Ahead of Time

If you anticipate difficulty in your return, work up the courage to speak those words to your spouse, in a very gentle way. Be careful that you don’t come across in a hurtful way (that you don’t want to come home); rather, be honest in telling your spouse that you’re working through some challenges and would love his or her assistance as you adapt to being home. Hopefully, he or she will understand and may feel the stress involved already, and will be much more understanding of any unusual distance or tension after your return.

Give Yourself Time

The bottom line is that you won’t transition and adapt over night, or even over several nights. It will take time – months, sometimes years, to feel normal at home again. Do your best to avoid frustration at yourself, and show yourself grace understanding that many, many people have been there before and are eager to help.

Life at home will feel normal again, it’s just going to take some effort on your part, with a process that more than likely includes seeing a counselor, journaling, being honest and giving yourself plenty of time and grace.