Ok so I will preface this post with a) I love my soldier and b) we have been married for almost 23 years (so I pretty much have said all of this to his handsome face :). But this week I have had SOOO many spouses and friends ask me if their spouse has “LOST HIS EVER LOVIN MIND” that I felt the need to write about the Caveman phenomenon that does occur within the military community.
You see I know that there is some young newly married spouse that is wondering what happened to that guy who walked out the door “missing her already”. What happened to the thoughtful caring spouse who was sensitive to the fact that military life isn’t easy on her either. Yes I know she’s glad the unit is back but for the love of Pete where oh where did you leave that guy she waved to as he boarded that bus? And I can totally relate…
Now my husband is a helper for the most part. He cooks, vacuums, does laundry and is the primary “poop scooper” in our home. He never leaves the house without a kiss and an “I love you” and will frequently call just to see what’s up in my world. That is until he’s been on assignment somewhere away from home…
Here’s the deal – without exception after a deployment, training or weeks in the field he seems to have left that helper guy off in some bunker – and yes it does become all about him. (See you are SOOO not alone).
I have watched this happen over and over and depending on the length of time away the longer it takes for him to “reset” once he gets back. But the good news is that now I know it’s coming and I accept the fact that I will have to spend some time reconnecting the wiring that days surrounded by “dudes” and testosterone have fried.
In those first few days it seems that all I am faced with is how he was by himself away from home, away from me. I hear how he didn’t get enough sleep and had to eat crappy food followed by grumblings about late night ranges and the ass who thinks it’s cool not to shower for 2 weeks. It’s like he forgets that we had to function without him too. And I will admit that it can feel like the fact that I have had to pick up the slack he left behind is an afterthought. And that frustrates me. MY guy doesn’t think like that.
This immersion into the proverbial man cave brings out his inner caveman so to speak. And frankly THAT guy frustrates me. It’s not the big stuff, it’s the little things that he’s lost. It’s his perspective and attitude that frankly need adjusting.
Not the guy himself, MY guy is still in there, he’s just donned some kind of cloaking gear that needs to go, and I’ve learned that it’s up to me to make sure that happens.
The “reprogramming” process as I call it requires patience and a “this too shall pass” attitude, and sometimes it’s hard. But it’s what I do and it works.
So whenever my soldier has been gone for a bit and needs a reminder that our household isn’t the barracks and I am not one of his soldiers I use the following:
10 Tips For A Happy Reunion
- Remind him that “chow” will be ready in XX number of minutes until he realizes that I don’t operate with a card swipe just because he’s hungry.
- Give him raised eye brows and “the look” when he attempts to disseminate orders to the troops in my household (a.k.a me, children &/or pets take your pick)
- Give him space to decompress and accept the fact that he isn’t alone with only his schedule to juggle.
- Encourage him to resume his “before mission” contributions to the household one step/chore at a time.
- Remind him that I am his wife and that I need attention just like his soldiers [probably more so, and I am WAY more appreciative and know how to show it 😉 ]
- Treat him like you would a guest for the first couple of days (especially if it’s been a long deployment).
- Find ways to let him know you missed HIM, not just what de does for you.
- Remember that bitching, yelling and losing it really won’t get me what I want in the long run; in fact it may make things worse.
- Take the time to have fun together as a couple and as a family.
- Don’t assume that they even realize that their behavior isn’t working in your world. Be patient and share how you are feeling in a loving way.
How do you tame your caveman?
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com