Surrendering Your Expectations

Just as marriage is an allegory of the relationship between Christ and the Church, a military homecoming is a fit allegory of Christ returning for his bride. Your service-member husband represents Christ victorious, returning for the church He so bravely sacrificed for. You, his bride, represent the Church, anticipating the return of your bridegroom with bated breath. It's a beautiful, this-side-of-Heaven snapshot of the Second Coming.

Chances are your homecoming experience will be a "rapturous" moment. But we're "not home yet," and your picture-perfect expectations for post-homecoming life won't be fully met. And that's OK. Perfect literally means "thoroughly done," and God is not through working on either of you.

Expectation: Things should be "back to normal" in no time.

Reality: Experts say re-integration may take just as long as the deployment itself. The reality is some things may never be the same. Some changes are for the better, such as your family's renewed appreciation for life, family, God and each other. Some changes are heart-wrenching, such as watching your husband struggle with nightmares and insomnia. Whatever your "new normal" is, strive to embrace it with full commitment, determination and reliance on God.

Expectation: During our deployment, my husband and I truly learned how much we mean to each other; we'll never take each other for granted again.

Reality: As permanent as your newfound appreciation for each other is, it's bound to get buried in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Strive to frequently appreciate each other in small ways. Thank your husband for fixing the broken printer so quickly; thank your wife for making dinner each evening. Perform small, random acts of kindness that will probably go unnoticed – replacing the toilet paper when it runs out or changing the batteries in the remote. It's the small, unnoticed kindnesses that make a relationship run smoothly.

Expectation: It was so nice having the bed and remote to myself while my spouse was gone; It's not a big deal if I keep hogging everything.

Reality: While your spouse was away, you likely used a little indulgence as a means of coping: spreading out on the whole bed, not cleaning the house as often, stocking only your favorite flavors of pop tarts. Now that your spouse is back, pray for the wisdom to see how your decisions affect your spouse. Regularly forfeit the last scoop of ice cream or cold soda to your spouse; you'll be surprised at the blessings you receive in return!

Expectation: We've been apart for so long and can't wait to be in each other's arms again. Sex should come naturally and be better than ever!

Reality: Sex is bound to be at least a little awkward after homecoming, just as it might have been at first. Regularly schedule a couple-hour block to be intimate in whatever ways you desire. Have fun exploring and relearning your spouse's likes and dislikes. Sex is meant to be fun, so laugh a little and check your expectations at the door.

Just as God grew you separately during deployment, He will now grow you corporately. Kiss deployment and misplaced expectations goodbye, and look forward to a bright future together.