My husband, "Rick," spent a year in Iraq. He has been home for 31/2 months. Before his return, the Army gave out a lot of information for us about what to expect upon his arrival -- how he might act, how the kids might react. None of it seems to have helped me.
Rick has had no trouble adjusting to being home. He has experienced no serious side effects from being there. The problem is me.
While Rick was gone, I did everything. I took care of our little boy, ran the house -- handled everything. Now that Rick is home, I'm having a hard time relearning how to share MY child and MY house with him. Yes, Abby, I know it's his baby and his house, too.
Rick's deployment was the first time I had ever lived by myself -- and I liked it. Now it seems that everything he does is wrong. Things that never used to bother me set me off now. I have gone from being a laid-back, patient person to a ranting, raving she-devil. Rick loads the dishwasher wrong and puts the toilet paper in backward; he drives wrong. Everything he does is wrong, because he does it differently than I do.
What's wrong with me? I know I'm acting like a lunatic. I love my husband very much and don't want to act this way. I want our marriage to be successful and happy. What can I do?
Army Wife in North Carolina
There is nothing "wrong" with you. You are not the only wife who has felt this way. What the Army failed to tell you is that there's a period of readjustment not only for the returning soldier, but also for the spouse who was left behind. The solution lies in communicating your feelings before you explode.
The two of you must learn how to communicate effectively again. The secret is compromise. Taking time for just the two of you to be together would also be a giant step in the right direction. Both of you have changed during his deployment. If that doesn't improve the situation, marriage counseling should be your next step.
Keep in mind that you are among the lucky ones. Not everyone has been so fortunate as to have their loved ones return home.
About a year ago, a friend of mine passed away. His funeral was more than 1,000 miles away. Because I didn't have much money, another friend called her best friend from high school and asked him to let me stay with him while I attended the funeral.
As a thank-you for his hospitality, I insisted on cooking for him my last night there. (He survived on frozen pizza!) We ate together, and at the end of the meal, he begged me not to leave yet. He had fallen in love with me, and I with him in the short time there! I changed my travel plans, and now a year later, we're engaged.
When people see that we're engaged, we always get asked, "How did you meet?" I tell them it was through a friend, but some people insist on hearing the whole story. Should we make something up? I can't tell people that I met him because of my friend's funeral!
J.H. in Yonkers
Why not? It's a wonderful story. Out of sadness came joy; out of death came life. I consider your love story to be an affirmation -- and so should you.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2004, Universal Press Syndicate