Preparing for a happy reunion

Preparing for a happy reunion

LEARNING about reunion before redeployment can help prepare military families for successful homecoming. This seems to be true for couples both with and without children, single parents, and single soldiers coming back to family and friends. There is no way to predict what reunion will really be like, but on of the best ways to prepare is to develop a positive mindset.

Expect doubts and worries. Anxiety is a natural part of reunion.

Forget your fantasies. Give up fantasies or expectations because they may not happen. Let things happen naturally.

Expect change. You’ve changed, your spouse has changed and your children have changed. Accepting change is a major factor in re-establishing oneself and relationships after separation. People’s tastes and interests may have changed. They may have different preferences in food and clothing, for example, different beliefs in politics and religion, or new thoughts about money and careers.

Remember that role changes are almost guaranteed during separation. A family member who learns about managing a home or working outside of it may find that they enjoy it and desire permanent changes upon the soldier’s return. Additionally, a soldier may have acquired new job skills and added responsibilities during deployment.

In the weeks following the initial reunion, it’s best to make small, gradual changes, large or rapid changes in roles are often a shock for the whole family, even if there’s an impatience for everything to happen at once.

Another big change may be money. Such costs as food and utility bills are higher with the service member at home, and pay may change, too. This is the time to create a realistic budget.

There is no definite period for change to begin to feel normal. On average, it takes several weeks or months, depending on the length of separation and on your ability to accept change.

Expect old problems to reappear. Even though it’s nice to remember people at their best, separation usually doesn’t solve problems. All the issues that existed before separation probably have not disappeared. There may even be new ones.

Share your feelings. Communication is key to a healthy reunion. Talk about your feelings and let your partner talk, too. Listen. Make sure you understand what your partner is saying before responding.

Accept your partner’s feelings. Soldiers and family members may experience feelings that are difficult to comprehend. Part of accepting a person’s feelings is listening to what’s being said and watching body language, as well as having the patience to let the other person explain him or herself without interruption.

Recognizing that family members are proud of how they handled things alone will help soldiers understand the importance of accepting changes made during the separation. Family members should also realize that soldiers may be surprised or hurt that loved ones have coped so well alone. This is a good time to reassure the soldier that he or she is still loved and needed.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Soldiers Magazine

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group