Making That Homecoming Happy
Living apart for any length of time means we fall into our own patterns and routines. This is particularly the case during deployments, where we have to carry on with normal life, when the one we love is away. These routines and habits can be particularly hard to break when we come back together, but adapting to accommodate a previously absent partner is an important step in ensuring the household adjusts peacefully. Equally for those coming back, it's important to remember that your family will have fallen into its own routines and that your return, although welcome, will be unsettling for all, especially the children.
Here are some tips to help you have a happy return
Plan time for a special celebration - Get all the family involved. Talk in advance about what you would all like to do.
Try not to panic!!! - Your partner or family are likely to have changed during the time you've been apart. This doesn't mean they are different people, or no longer want or need you, just that they have grown in this time.
After the homecoming - In the weeks after the long awaited return, you are likely to notice little changes. Things are probably just that - little changes. Try putting some time aside to spend together so that you can learn and adjust to these changes.
Adjust slowly - Don't make any dramatic changes. If your partner has been coping well, don't undermine their routines.
Go easy on discipline - Remember, your children have been living by your partner's rules for a while. Changing the rules will confuse and upset them, and undermine your partner's authority. Unless there are major problems, there should be no real reason to change the routines. Children benefit from stability and routine, not uncertainty and confusion. Expect them to test their boundaries. They are likely to see whether you will allow them more or less freedom.
Recognise what your family has achieved - Coping without you may have been a real struggle, but they coped. Be ready to praise and not criticise.
Be sensitive to other's feelings - Each of you may feel some resentment. It's easy to feel this way when you think that you've missed out. Make sure everyone is included in the homecoming celebrations and that the whole family have time together in the following weeks.
Expect some sexual tension - You have been anticipating this moment for months, and the fear of things going badly can create real tension. Acknowledge how you feel, take it slowly and be sensitive to another's needs.
Adjust your budget - Your costs will be different now that you are together again. The household bills may become higher, whereas his or her spending needs will reduce now that they are home.
You may want to treat everyone. It is nice to buy presents and you may think you have extra money now you're home, but remember the household bills are likely to increase.
Remember, this is a highly stressful period of time for the whole family, and whatever you do, things will be difficult, and can occasionally go wrong. If you need support, help or information regarding difficulties within the family or within your relationship, the Navy can provide a listening ear or counselling through the Helpdesk, NPFS or RM Welfare. Alternatively, if you would rather access support from outside the Services, RELATE offers subsidised couple counselling for Naval personnel.
'Coming Home' Booklet
A guide for members of the Naval Service returning from operational duties, and their families.
Downloadable File: 'Coming Home' Booklet (PDF) (200 KB)
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