While my husband was in Iraq, I discovered a brand new side to his personality. My husband is generally pretty laid back and it takes a great deal for him to really get upset in the everyday world. To say the very least, this was not the case while he was deployed.
I was lucky enough that my husband had internet access in his tent so we were able to talk everyday online and without a doubt this was a blessing; it could also be a huge stress factor as well. I arranged my life around the computer as my husband had a set schedule when he was on post but of course as anything goes in the military, this changed on a regular basis as well. Early on I noticed that my husband was a little less laid back about the smallest things, he took a great deal personally and to be honest, so did I and if I wasn’t online the minute he was there he would get rather annoyed with me. One day while chatting with him, I mentioned that one of the neighbors had cut the grass while I was at a fundraiser for his unit. His response to this was “Well, I guess I can just stay here forever, you don’t need me there.” I made the mistake of thinking he was making a bad joke and laughed it off, which only made matters worse. My husband had really come to think that I did not want him to come home. I was both angry and hurt; that thought had never crossed my mind, I lived for the day he came home to me. I discovered that I needed to assure him that I did need him and want him home with me.
We had a few other “misunderstandings” during this deployment and one that went on for three days until he decided that he was done fighting with me and all was well with the world again. I spent a large deal of time completely confused and feeling as if I had done something wrong. It would take several months after his return home to understand what was going on with my husband.
My husband had seen me go from a homebody who doesn’t go out very often unless I have to. I am happy to stay home and work on my crafts, my home and my garden and I have pretty well stopped doing all of those things and thrown myself into fundraising for his unit and other military organizations and to make matters worse, I had made new friends that he was not a part of. He felt like I was leaving him behind and I felt like my efforts were not appreciated. I was doing the only thing I knew to do in order to make his time in Iraq easier while maintaining my sanity. Sitting home with only the cat for company was not healthy for me but to my husband, I had become a different person. He even admitted to wondering if I had met someone else because I spent so much time alone.
Once my husband was actually home and able to see what I had been doing and the people that I had become friends with, he started to understand better and he also realized that I wanted nobody but him. I went back to being a homebody and he realized that yes, I had changed but that it also wasn’t a bad thing.
I can’t really say what I would have done differently if I had understood what my husband was feeling. I needed to stay busy for my own sake; a housewife without a family doesn’t offer much fulfillment and I did what I needed to do for the both of us. I do believe that instead of getting my feelings hurt on a regular basis I would have done what I normally do when he says something that I consider “out there” and tell him to get over himself. I also think I would have also spent more time making sure that he knew just how much I loved him and missed him. I didn’t want to come across whiny or needy with him so while I always let him know that I loved him and I did miss him, I did not dwell on those things.
Communication is key in any relationship but even more so in one when there is such a huge distance between you and no way to change the situation. If your soldier is behaving in a way that doesn’t make much sense to you, ask him what is going on his head, talk to him, assure him that you do miss him and want him to come home.