25 June, 2009


Homecoming and Reunion

familiesWhat is Homecoming?
It is the time when naval families get together again after separation.

Homecoming is part of the deployment cycle, which includes separation and homecoming.

Separation and homecoming can be challenging - but they are a chance for families to develop too.

Separation Homecoming

  • Last a week, a month or six months or longer
  • Be planned in advance or happen at short notice
  • Involve areas in the UK or abroad
  • Include many types of drafts/appointments and duties

  • Is a time of adjustment after separation

Why learn about Homecoming and Reunion?
Because homecoming can be both joyful and stressful.

Changes cause stress...
and homecoming is a big change. Even positive changes such as a better job, a pay rise or promotion create stress. Homecoming does too!

Everyone is affected
Service personnel, spouses and children feel the stress, as well as friends and relatives.

Emotions are especially intense
Your joy at homecoming is powerful and exiting - and disappointments can be extra strong too.

Learning about homecoming or reunion can make everyone happier and more relaxed.

hearts How To Prepare For A Happy Homecoming

Talking about your feelings
This is an important part of preparing for a happy homecoming.

Partners may be thinking:

  • How much has he/she changed?
  • Have I made the right decisions about our money?
  • Have I coped well with the children?
  • Will I have to stop seeing my friends so much?
  • Will we still have things to talk about?

Service Personnel may wonder:

  • Will my family still need me?
  • Will the children recognise me?
  • How did things go while I was away?
  • Will they be happy to see me?

Children wonder:

  • How long will Dad/Mum stay?
  • Will the rules change at home?
  • Will I get punished because I was naughty sometimes?

Remember- it's natural to feel anxious... as well as excited!

You can help ease the tension by:

Communicating with your partner during separation Talking with the children

All the time, but especially during the time leading up to homecoming, communicating through letters, telephone calls or other available ways. Discuss what you are doing and feeling - and be honest!Compare expectations.

Ask them questions and help them express their feelings. Help them to be excited and realistic about the homecoming.

love youBe Realistic
It's nice to be romantic, but don't expect more than is possible.

Realise that:

Everyone changes
It's only natural that children, wives, partners, husbands, family and friends change with time. They won't be exactly as you remembered.

Communication may be difficult at first
As everyone has changed, it will take a little while for people to get to know each other again.

Roles have changed
Previously established roles may have changed causing confusion. Understanding and readjustment will take time.

Interests may have changed
People's tastes and interests may have changed. For example they may have different:

  • Preference in food, clothing and recreation.
  • Beliefs in politics and religion.
  • Thoughts about money or careers.

Old problems don't disappear
It's nice to remember people at their best, but separation doesn't usually solve problems. Concerns about family communication, schoolwork or household habits don't automatically disappear - there may even be new ones. (And don't expect to solve any of them right away!)

wineSome Tips For Homecoming

For that exciting day when your partner returns:

  • Make it special - Plan time for a special celebration. Get everyone involved.
  • Stay flexible - Realise that your partner may be very tired or have spur-of-the-moment ideas for fun. Leave room for changes.
  • Stay confident - Even though people may look or act differently from the way you remember them, they're not different people.
  • Negotiate activities - Make time for everyone's favourite activities on homecoming day or after. Ask everyone for his or her ideas.

vacationDuring The Weeks That Follow:

  • Make individual time - It's important for partners to spend time together without family or friends. It's a way to learn and grow together.
  • Adjust gradually - Start with small changes and make them slowly. Large or rapid changes in roles are often a shock for the whole family.
  • Be patient - Don't expect everything to happen at once. Readjustment takes time.
  • Re-think your budget - Costs will be different now your partner is at home and pay may change too. Set realistic goals for saving.

breaking the bank Some Tips For Service Personnel

When you arrive back home...
Be patient and expect some difficulties.

Don't change systems that have been working well
If your partner has been managing the family finances, or a son or daughter doing some cooking, don't demand an immediate return to "the way things were". Tell your partner how much you appreciate how they have managed. Praise the children for helping in the house.

Go easy on discipline
Don't try to "whip things into shape". Take some time to understand how your family has changed during separation.

Don't find fault
Or criticise because things haven't been done the way you did them.

Expect others to be a little resentful
Make time for everyone's favourite activities on homecoming day or after. Ask everyone for his or her ideas.

Spend some time with the whole family
Have a true "family reunion"- before taking special time alone with your partner.

yelling Expect Some Relationship Tension
When two people have been separated, it usually takes some time to become relaxed and reacquainted. Good listening, sharing and communication could enhance the quality of your relationship.

Talk with your loved ones
Communication is the basis of healthy growing relationships.

Listen to your partner
They may have had to deal with a lot of serious problems during your absence. They will need you to listen while they express their feelings about what happened.

Support positive changes
Show pleasure and interest in how your family has changed.

Re-think your budget
Costs will be different now your partner is at home and pay may change too. Set realistic goals for saving.

Expect to make some adjustments
Though you're looking forward to getting home, it may be a challenge to adjust to changes in:

  • Where you sleep and for how long
  • What and when you eat
  • The people you see
  • What you do in your spare time

Resist spending sprees
Exciting to have money suddenly and places to spend it, but spending without planning usually causes trouble later.

Some Tips For Family Members

When you and your partner are reunited:

  • Avoid tight schedules
    Service people often look forward to fewer demands on them.
  • Understand your partner's discomfort
    Some discomfort in communicating, eating or sleeping or some sexual tension doesn't mean your partner is unhappy with you or the family.
  • Allow time to adjust
    Don't expect your partner to do things exactly as before.
  • Stick to your budget
    Don't spend money you don't have. Your partner may not remember how much money a family needs.
  • Expect unusual feelings
    Your partner may be a little hurt by your success at home. This is natural - everyone likes to feel needed. Don't let him/her feel 'left out' or that you can manage very well without them.

relaxing at homeYou can make it easier for children if you:

Give them time, too:

  • When a partner has been away it takes a while to remember and accept him/her again.
  • A young child may also be annoyed with a parent for leaving them.
  • A baby may be afraid of a parent they've rarely seen.

Expect them to test limits
When a parent returns, it's natural for children to find out how things have changed by playing up a little - or a lot.

Plan family time
Make time for a picnic, a trip or a special meal. It helps bring the family back together.

Plan individual time with father/mother
Plan some special time for just the children and returning parent to get reacquainted.

Stay involved with school, activities and interests
It's important for parents to be involved in their children's lives. Ask them about what's going on - and support their positive efforts.

Make Homecoming A Joyful Time!

  • Create reasonable expectations
  • Take time to readjust
  • Communicate your feelings

Homecoming is a time to build a stronger family

coming home booklet image'Coming Home' Booklet

A guide for members of the Naval Service returning from operational duties, and their families.


Download Downloadable File: 'Coming Home' Booklet (PDF) (200 kb)

Take Advantage of Sources of Help
If you're still having trouble adjusting after more than a couple of months, seek professional help.

info More Information: NPFS & RM Welfare

website transparent icon Web Site: HIVE Information Service

website Web site: Soldiers Sailors Airmen and Families Association - Forces Help

Royal Marines
Royal Fleet Auxiliary
Naval Families Federation
HIVE Information Service
Navy News
BFBS Digital Radio
Help for Heroes
Defence Discount Directory
SSAFA Confidential Support Line

 © Crown Copyright 2008. All rights reserved. Contact Webmaster | Website Help | Privacy and Accessibility