OK, So Here's The Deal...

A Marine Major, Running Fool, and All-Around Smart-Ass.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Left Behind

Sometimes I get requests from people writing papers. Here is one I got recently that asked...

I'm writing an argumentative paper for my english class on "what are the effects of war on those "left behind"?" I was wondering if you might have something I could use as ancedotal evidence of what families go through when a father or husband is on a long deployment.

Here was part of my response:

Well, when I left, my wife and I was married only a couple of years and we didn't have any children yet. But we went through some of the adjustments when I got back that I've seen many times over the years.

It seems that the effects on married couples fall into two main categories: if the marriage was strong, it gets stronger when there is separation. If the marriage is weak, it tends to tear the marriage apart. Many guys I knew were divorced soon after they got home. I think this has something to do with the stress of the deployment but also that when the husband leaves, the women carry on and adjust to doing everything themselves. When the men return, the husband feels like he is not needed because the wife is used to taking care of everything. The woman feels like he's invading the world she has built because she's not used to having the husband around. It takes awhile for both of them to adjust and work through the new dynamic. Emotions are raw so many times, it causes real, long-lasting problems.

Let me step back. When we found out I was leaving, the stress started. There are so many things to take care of and time is short. You WANT to spend every moment you can with your family but your days are crammed with getting everything ready for the trip. So you can only dedicate moments here and there to the family and you are so spun up, it's hard to enjoy them. The wife is just as stressed as she deals with the fact that her husband is going away to face danger and she is left to "hold down the fort" alone.

It gets so stressful that toward the end, there is usually some fighting and both husband and wife wish "he would just leave" and get it over with.

Once gone, of course, the wave of emotions hit and both wish they would have acted differently or said this or that instead. The wife finds herself alone having to do everything and deal with her fear of the unknown: both of her own situation and that of her husband's.

Once he's gone, her life goes on but seems to be on hold. She waits each day for any communication and she mostly just drifts through the day, getting through it day by day. She has brief moments of normalcy but the thought of her husband is never far from her mind.

When communication comes, it seems they have little to talk about. The man wants to tell her he's OK but if he's in danger, he doesn't want to tell her that. She sometimes feels that telling him her mundane worries and frustrations doesn't compare to what he must be going through or that she doesn't want him to worry about her. So they both normally go with "everything is just fine." Ironically, sometimes this causes feelings that each maybe doesn't need the other, causing more depression on each end.

Here is another thing for you on a friend of mine's blog (http://anothernewone.blogspot.com/). Her husband just left for Iraq:

Tuesday, April 04, 2006
I've found myself in an uncomfortable position

The cell phone has officially become an extension to my arm. With a husband in Iraq, I don't care where I have the phone or where I am when it rings; if it's a number I don't recognize I'm going to answer it. Even if I'm in church. Even if I'm pumping gas. Even if I'm at the counter of the post office. Even if I'm on the treadmill at the gym. It's crazy, I know.

Poor planning on my part now leaves me with a dilemma: there is only one battery bar on the phone and I need to take a shower, but there are ZERO outlets in the bathroom and I'm afraid to leave the phone anywhere outside of the bathroom because I'm afraid Brian will call and I won't hear it. I'm afraid to take the phone in the bathroom with me because I'm afraid the battery will go and then Brian will calland the phone won't even work. Looks like this shower of mine will have to wait.

Now you all know what it's like to be waiting...

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]


  • At 3:21 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Stop making me cry today! (But thanks all the same. This is a bittersweet post. Now I'm hoping my marriage was one of the "strong ones.")

    Oh, (to the person writing the paper) I just read a book called "While They're At War" by Kristin Henderson. There are many, many websites at the end of the book for references.

  • At 4:49 PM, Blogger Viper said…

    Big baby.

    (Was I accurate?)

  • At 6:54 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…


    (I don't know, we'll see when he gets home. So far I would say it's accurate.)

  • At 5:56 AM, Anonymous Ray Young said…

    "So they both normally go with 'everything is just fine.' "

    I have been reading the Dalai Lama, and he made a comment that applies here: ". . .They come to me wiht some kind of false hope that I'll be able to lift their burden, which I can't. I feel that I have no right to send them out with an extra burden: a burden of my own."
    In reference to this blog entry, a person could almost interpret that they don't want to add to each other burden, so try not to talk about it.
    For myself, I can only hope for the best for those I have come to think highly of (such as Killjoy).

  • At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This was a very sweet and thoughtful answer you took the time to think about and write for her. I'd definitely miss you ;)


  • At 6:08 PM, Blogger Killjoy said…

    Thank you, Ray. I greatly appreciate that.

  • At 4:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    This is very interesting site... » » »


Post a Comment

<< Home