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Ask VMW: I Want to Have a Big Welcome Home Party for My Hubby!

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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Ask VMW: I Want to Have a Big Welcome Home Party for My Hubby!

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ask VMW: I Want to Have a Big Welcome Home Party for My Hubby!

I frequently get email from folks asking for help or advice. I guess that's just the nature of having a blog. But really, I don't mind, and I enjoy reading the emails. I typically just answer back in an email, but I thought now I would try to make it a regular post here on this blog. I figure, if one person had that question and wrote, maybe another person had it too, but doesn't want or feel like putting it into words. So here goes! I had a reader tell me her husband is in Iraq, going on five months now. He has a few months more to go. She has it in her mind that she wants to have a huge welcome home party, the day after he gets home. My opinion and thoughts on this? Be sure to add your own thoughts below too.

Let me start out by saying my husband has been deployed so many times...I have run out of fingers! He will go over 20 years of service next year, and we've been on this military train, at least together, over 15 years. I myself have been through LOTS of trial and error during (and after) those deployments. I've learned what works, what doesn't work, what is appreciated and what is downright counter-productive.

Most guys, on their way home, a thousand things are running through their minds. How will I react and feel when I see my wife and kids? They fear it won't be exactly the same everything was when they left home (it won't be). They worry about intimacy and getting back into the groove of everyday "normal" life. They tend to be a bit jumpy and nervous, because "over there", they constantly had to be on guard and aware of their surroundings. I'm reminded of a friend's husband who spent many weeks hitting the ground and taking cover every time he heard a car backfire. The guy even grabbed his wife around the throat when she tapped him on the shoulder one time when he didn't expect it.

When your husband comes home...he will be T-I-R-E-D. The first thing he will want to do is sleep, then more sleep. He will want some peace and quiet. He will want to spend time getting re-acquainted with his family. He will have to get integrated back into his life, literally. Some units even have forced re-integration training. The soldiers actually spend a few days getting counseled and assimilated between the time they leave the warzone and the time they get home to be with their families. It is that serious and necessary. I had another friend's husband, who literally drove like a bat out of hell, to the point of driving dangerously, and she refused to get in the vehicle with him after he got back. Why did he do this when he was such a careful driver before? Because "over there", they are taught to drive offensively, to get through areas quickly and to try to fly over IEDs (roadside bombs) and the like. Do you really think your husband can just turn off these survival instinct when he comes home?

With all this being said, is it a good idea to have a big welcome home party the day after he gets back? I think you already know my answer. And in case you don't..the answer is NO. He also doesn't want to travel and go to Disney World or Busch Gardens or wherever..he just wants to get in his warm and comfortable bed, get familiar again with his home and get to know his family again in that setting. He's been traveling for days and is in no mood to travel some more.

My tips for a homecoming and re-integration into family life:

  • If you must have a big welcome home party, save it for the next week. Don't plan to have firecrackers or loud noises either. Be careful with the alcohol flow as well if you are going to have any at all. Remember, you are doing this for him...not for you.
  • My husband's best welcome home was a front yard littered with American flags and a large sign welcoming him home, a quiet house with the opportunity for a LONG nap or series of naps and then a nice home-cooked meal. I actually found a yard sign company, like this one, to put out the flags. They appeared the morning of his arrival, and the nice lady kept out the decorations for a few extra days at no charge when she found out he was coming home from Iraq.
  • We stayed put. I did not tell him we were going to Disney World, going on a long car ride or anything else I didn't sign him up for.
  • Let you husband take the lead, if he so chooses. Don't pester him with questions. Feed him data on you and the kids and family in small bites. Don't overwhelm him with information. Hopefully, if you've been in email or phone contact, he is already up to speed with what little Johnny has been up to.
  • Keep the noise levels down. Don't have the kids make loud noises, ie firecrackers and such and don't sneak up on him.
  • Realize, that at first, intimacy may not be up to what you expected. Let's face it, the guy is just dead tired, so will act accordingly. Things also won't magically start up again where you left off..usually. That's what I love about deployments. It's sort of like a honeymoon again and you kind of have to work your way back from being apart so long.
  • Realize that your husband may have issues with you being in charge. You just spent x number of months, running the household and finances completely by yourself. He may not get that...or want to accept your independence. You need to sit down and talk with him and say what duties you'd like to keep (such as paying the bills) and what you would like him to take over. Try to do this gradually and don't throw a list at him. I typically run our finances all the's just easier for us with his constant coming and going.
  • Along those same lines, don't whip out a honey-do list, right when he comes home. Let him at least enjoy his first few weeks! Talk about this stuff gradually too. Mention that the back deck needs restaining, but don't mention yet another thing that needs work in the same breath. Besides, being as independent as you were, you should've been able to accomplish many of these things yourselves. It's important to foster a good relationship with your neighbors, fellow church members and friends, so they can help you out, or at least teach you about some of these basic household maintenance tasks. I always have good neighbors who come when I need something, but I also try to get them to show me how to do a task, so I can do it next time on my own. Many folks take pride in teaching others....give them that opportunity.
I guess I've written more than a mouthful. Obviously, there's more to be thought about at homecoming than just parties and celebrating. These are just some things you might want to keep in mind! Do you have any tips to add of your own?

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Blogger Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

Excellent POST!!!!

I've been married to a soldier for almost 18 years. Me too, more deployments than I care to count.

Every soldier that I have ever met (like hundreds) seems to have the same opinion....the best welcome home party they could have is having their true love answer the door naked :)

Save the parties with other people until they are home a few weeks.

March 10, 2008 at 2:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agree! My husband came home Friday night, the kids have Spring Break next week, and we are just going to play it by ear.
Apparently I knew this instinctively, but our low-key homecoming seems to be the right thing for us.
I am having a dinner party after he's been home a little over a week-he wants Thanksgiving and I have a 15 lb turkey and we needed some others to eat it, so w/ his consent I invited the family of a deployed soldier and a family who is having their kitchen remodeled.
But that's about a social as we'll get. Day trips, maybe an overnight if the weather is good during break.
Then, when the kids are back in school, he and I will get away for a couple of nights in the mountains and do some hiking and hanging out. TG for grandparents.

March 11, 2008 at 6:04 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

I love the Thanksgiving idea! And what a great thing you are doing for those other families too! Well thought out (or at least it looks well thought out even if you didn't mean it to be!).

March 11, 2008 at 11:40 PM  

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