Marine’s wife recalls range of emotions during husband’s deployments: ‘Everyone is cracked wide open and wrecked’

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“It feels like it has been forever, but also like it was just yesterday. It’s the halfway mark of the military deployment and it goes so fast, yet oh so very slow.

In a nutshell, here’s how it plays out in our family.

Pre-deployment phase:

Ladies and gentlemen,


Everyone is on edge and in a hurry-up-and-wait stage. You know it’s coming, so rather than address the elephant in the room, you argue about the dishes in the sink.

Then it comes and smacks you upside the head, The Goodbye.

Son sits on couch on facetime with deployed marine father
Valli Vida Gideons

Early deployment phase:

Everyone is cracked wide open and wrecked. I find myself afraid to acknowledge it because no dam can stop that flood if the levee breaks. The suppressed stuff reveals itself in the form of misplaced anger, sadness, and the like. Many weeks of sleepless nights will follow, and emotions dance on the tiptoes of dark loneliness.

Then, comes the halfway mark:

The folks on the home front (us) begin to enter into acceptance. New normals are established, and the train keeps moving onward. For the one away (him), this adjustment is filled with mixed emotions.

Does my family even miss me anymore? It seems like everyone is just moving on without me.

Only, this is far from the truth. Instead, this is survival mode kicking in: fight or flight. And in my home, WE FIGHT! We roll; We suck it up. There’s no other option. The kids know it, and so do I.

Marine husband and dad smiles with wife, son, and daughter with American flag behind them and ocean in background
Valli Vida Gideons

He feels like he is losing influence and input in regards to parenting and the ability to provide guidance in raising the kids. I feel like I am carrying the load and responsibility for the mothership. His suggestions get interpreted as demands or criticisms. My responses, in turn, feel dismissive and short.

And so the crazy cycle goes.

Marine father and husband smiles with wife, son, and daughter
Laurel Riffey/Laurel Photography

Funny enough, we know what is happening (it’s not our first rodeo, after all), but the weight of it sometimes sends us into a crappy place.

And no matter how many times we’ve done this dance, each extended separation brings unique challenges and unexpected experiences depending on the season of life.

Marine husband and father sits in uniform with wife, son, and daughter
Cyndi Golden

Take the toddler years, when just the idea of managing two kids with hearing loss, under age four, nearly killed me: the baths, meals, household tasks, tantrums, doctor appointments, weekly therapy sessions, and merely trying to keep the little humans safe. 24/7.

Now we find ourselves in the teen and preteen years. The issues have higher stakes. Peers, school, hormones, internet, sex, drugs, rock ‘n roll, and all the other things. It matters. It really matters.

Marine dad smiles as son rests on his shoulder with a smile
Valli Vida Gideons

Alas, there’s more. There’s also the love story. The cliché is true: absence does make the heart grow fonder. Simple moments become sweeter. The essential things float to the surface.

So, here we are at halftime, taking our seventh-inning stretch, preparing for the next phase. I am holding on tightly, as we head toward The Final Kick.

Marine smiles in uniform with wife
Valli Vida Gideons

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Valli Vida Gideons, 48. It originally appeared on her blog and Facebook page.

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