Deployment Marriage Mobile
“Joe” was home again, having finished his deployment to Iraq. Everyone was very glad to have him home, but it wasn’t long before everyone was stressed and angry.
You see, while he was deployed, “Jane” and the children had learned to share chores that Joe had always done around their small farm. Jane was managing the finances. She was dealing with the kids’ school and activities, addressing misbehavior, enjoying good times with them. There had been no doubt that Joe was missed. They emailed and called when they could. They prayed. They involved him in major decisions whenever possible.
The daily activities of life shifted into a new routine, which was stable… until Joe came home again.
Fortunately, as part of the National Guard reintegration process, Joe and Jane received marriage counseling at the Vet Center. The counselor quickly recognized the frustrations and anger building between them, so he shared the following illustration.
Picture a mobile hanging above a baby’s crib. It is a joy to watch all the characters dance as the mobile turns. But when one of the characters is removed from the mobile and set aside, the balance is destroyed and the characters bounce around crazily and confused. The characters are then carefully shifted on their framework until the movement is balanced again.
When the absent character is hung back on the mobile in the place it occupied before, the balance is once again lost and the movement is confused and tangled. Balance can be restored only If the characters are carefully shifted around again, but the dance will not be exactly as it was before.
Joe and Jane quickly caught the point. During the deployment, the family had to shift responsibilities to balance the workload, temporarily filling the gap. When Joe returned, everyone subconsciously expected they would pick up life as it was before. But things had changed. Joe had changed and the family had changed as well. Joe and Jane would have to consciously work to reset expectations, so that the whole family could find balance in new ways.
Everyone needs to adjust their roles, responsibilities, expectations and routines in order for that delicate dance of the family mobile to be a joy to watch again.