Honey – Don’t Come Home

I hate not seeing my husband.  I hate not waking up with him, going to sleep with him, giving him a kiss as he leaves for work, and – well, you know.  Other things.

I miss him terribly when he is gone.  So it’s safe to say that the first time he deployed we made a decision that had our civilian family (I had gone "home" for the duration of the deployment) just could not comprehend.

I told him that if R & R was offered, I didn’t want him to come home.

Air Force Guy was not scheduled for a year long deployment, so it wasn’t likely that R & R would be offered.  But with extensions and what-not going on, you never know what to plan for.  And, as it turned out, that was never an option available to us anyway.

But the rule stood – don’t come home on R & R.

And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to see my husband, either.  I wanted to be with him more than anything.  I missed him with every part of my body.  But I was scared.  I was afraid that if he came home and took his eye off the ball for a few weeks, he might stutter when it was time to get back in the game.  And if he stuttered, I was afraid someone would get hurt.  Or worse.

I think there are an awful lot of non-military folks out there who know me and think that I don’t love my husband after that little episode.  I tend to be fairly honest when people ask me questions, because I talk so much that I would just spill the truth anyway.  So, if someone asked (and you’d be surprised how many people did), I told them the truth.  To say they were shocked was an understatement.

The memories of our R & R decision came back to me this weekend.  AFG is not deployed right now, but with the exceptions of three weekends, he’s gone the rest of the year.  He’s been gone since the beginning of June.

When he came home this weekend, I was absolutely excited.  I wanted to see my husband so bad it was consuming my every thought.  And we had a lovely weekend.

AFG headed back Sunday morning, and that’s when the trouble started.  His mind had shifted from "training mode" back to "I’m at home – what’s for dinner?"  He forgot a few basics, he was behind the curve.  He was doing things wrong.

And now we’re back to, "I love you more than anything, but don’t come home until this is done."

After a few very pointed (and fairly rude) statements my direction when I admitted this to people, I stopped talking about the "No R & R" rule.  It sure felt good when one of my friends, a Brownie leader in my daughters’ troop, admitted that she and her husband had chosen to forgo R & R for the same reasons I had.  And they had gone through a 15 month deployment!  Made our decision seem silly, really – they had actually PRACTICED what we were considering.  But she understood what I was saying. 

I think I might give her a call sometime this week to talk about the new "Don’t Come Home" rule for this go-’round.  I need to talk to someone who doesn’t think I’m trying to hide an affair or something.

About the Author


airforcewife started her military journey as an Army National Guard wife, but upon experiencing base housing decided to aim high and made the switch to the Air Force. That's worked pretty well for Air Force Family so far, even though airforcewife holds the spouse world record for Come to Jesus talks with various members of the command.

Air Force Family has four children, two pit bulls, and a Mother-in-Law who lost her mind eight years ago. Despite the reputation of pit bulls, airforcewife would like to assure you that her Mother-in-Law is truly the most dangerous of the group, and is banned in more places than the dogs.

airforcewife gets through Air Force Guy's frequent deployments and TDY's by frequently attending her boxing gym, after the chance discovery last deployment that hitting things really does make life better. She also volunteers as the Ambassador for Sew Much Comfort to Bethesda National Naval Medical Center and in a variety of other causes throughout the year.

airforcewife has no idea what the future holds, but decided five years ago that she wants to be Andi when she grows up.

  • Sarah

    I think I understand the thought process behind this, but I have a reason for thinking it might not always be the best idea. The first time my husband deployed was 2004. They were shorthanded, overworked, and exhausted. When I’d talk to him on the phone about 8 months in, he sounded like a zombie. He NEEDED his R&R (which he got at 9 months) to rejeuvinate himself. I was actually afraid of the opposite of what you feared, that if my husband DIDN’T get a break, he was going to get himself killed. He was slipping from too little sleep and too much work — for heaven’s sake, he fell asleep while we were on the phone, and one of his soldiers fell asleep in their tank during a firefight! He and his soldiers needed to relax for a little while before they went back to the high-stress, always-ready environment.
    So while I understand what you’re saying, and R&R would be less crucial for him during this deployment he’s on now, for some of the troops who are running intense missions every day, they may absolutely need that break…even if it’s hard emotionally on the family. If I had told my husband not to come home, he would’ve quietly obliged me, and I never would’ve known how desperately he needed a break from war. It would’ve been very bad. And we had no way of knowing how badly he needed that break until he was already at the breaking point.
    My advice is just that if this is a decision you make before he leaves for the deployment, make sure to decide if it still makes sense for your situation before you blindly stick to it. It would’ve been disastrous for my husband.

  • AFW, I am SO with you. We’re already trying to figure out all the possibilities for He’s upcoming deployment and the thought of him coming home for R&R just frustrates me. I wish there were an easier solution for this problem, and yes, I wish people wouldn’t look at you funny when you dare speak about it! I also see Sarah’s point, that a break from the action can be vitally important. Maybe we’ll invent some wonderful solution!

  • I also didn’t want my husband, Mark, to come home from Iraq on R&R. In the end, though, I was very happy that he did.

  • Estrella

    My husband is about to come home for R&R, there are several reasons why he’s coming, his grandpa died while he was deployed and he couldn’t come to be with his family then, so he’s coming to check on them, also his deployment lands on his birthday so it’s nice that we’ll be able to be with him on his birthday, i was worried about him losing focus because of R&R, like thinking too much about it before or i don’t know, we talked about it and agreed we both need it, i feel that it takes us one step closer to the end of the deployment and i miss him more that i thought i could miss anyone :|.
    Your way to see it makes sense tho, at first he was told not everyoen was gonna get R&R, so our midns were set on him not cominguntil it was over and we were ok, we didn’t mind, but when he was told he was coming we couldn’t help to be happy and excited.

  • kannie

    Very strong of you as a couple to discern what’s best for you!!! :-)
    And you are also to be commended for not – ahem … responding in what the legal system would consider a disproportionate manner – to the accusation. W O W. It seems like all the wrong people are able to open their mouths sometimes, doesn’t it?
    Having spousal distractions really can be a complicating factor, on both sides… people should just respect others’ decisions re: personal relationships like that, w/o judging or feeling like they’re being judged – we’re all individuals, after all, and we know our situations better than anyone ;-).

  • LAW

    DH wanted to spend Christmas with the granddaughter he hadn’t seen yet.. and since we ended up with an extension due to the surge, we were grateful he did take it. But every family needs to make their own decisions! what the civilians/family members/other well meaning busy bodies think – well.. there is a saying but I can’t say it here.

  • Amy

    I have to agree that I agree with the whole not coming home for R&R.
    I don’t agree that he shouldn’t take it – just don’t come home. Not only is it hard on the family to have him home for only a short period of time and then leave again – it’s hard on him too!
    If he takes his R&R somewhere else then he still gets his much needed rest but he doesn’t have to worry about the family and how it will affect them and him.

  • ritzywife

    My husband, (Oklahoma National Guard member) and I made the same decision. He has been gone for 10 months and will be home in a couple of months. I told him that if he had the choice of staying or coming home for his R&R that I could not bear to tell him good-bye again. Even if he came home I would not be able to enjoy it because I would be thinking about when the day would come that he would be leaving again. He has put in over 20 years and he will retire out of the National Guard a few months after returning, so I told him that I could deal with his not returning for R&R knowing that he will not be deployed again.

  • I had mixed feelings about R & R, but ultimately I decided it had to be Stretch’s call. We waited about 8 months into his year-long deployment before R&R. He needed it. He needed to see and hold his kids (and me!) and get away from the sandbox. It made the last 4 months more miserable. I swear they were worse than the first 8, but he needed it and we did, too. So I wouldn’t change it if I could. That said, I don’t know what we’ll do the next time around!

  • LAW

    Oh the next time… I think when the next time happens, I think I’d like to meet him halfway and just have a vacation somewhere. Of course, he’ll miss seeing the grandbaby, but we’ll see.

  • Erin

    It makes perfect sense to a military family. That two weeks is short and long enough to completely derail the train that you’re on and break your heart all over again. It’s tough to recover from that. You love them to bits, but it is disruptive and it’s hard to focus your attention at work and give them the attention they want. I’ve had to prep DH for the fact that I’ll be back in school (teaching and attending) when he comes home before his next report date.
    My grandpa died during my visit to Korea and DH offered to come home with me. I loved him and I always want him here, but I didn’t “need” him at that time for strength. He wanted to be home for my Papa’s funeral as much as he wanted to get out of Korea, which is why he does come home.
    Some civilians just don’t get it, plain and simple.

  • bagelsandbeans

    I’m going to be a new military wife in april and i have no idea how you guys do it. I’m not sure if i could hold my own like you all do.

  • I have to admit, I can understand it. But the first time he was deployed I was pregnant with our first child together, so he came home. The second time by the time he was offered R&R it was too close to him coming home, and we passed it up. Plus for me it was harder to say good bye the second time. So I truly do understand.

  • Actually reading the comments on here has inspired me. Maybe during this next deployment Dh and I could just meet somewhere and spend those 2 weeks alone sans families, kid and pets for R&R.. Hmm.. that’d be nice :)

  • Flaneuse

    I would rather my DH skip R&R as well. My feelings are that it is just so emotionally hard for me and our son to adjust to him leaving YET AGAIN. I wish the Army would let soliders opt to skip R&R and add it to there leave time.

  • Lisa

    I was the same as you. I didn’t want my husband coming home for R&R. He is currently stationed in Iraq for a year long deployment. Even though this is our third time in the sandbox, this good bye devastated me the most. I couldn’t handle him coming home for two weeks and getting back into our daily routine to up and leave again. I didn’t want to put my children through that. Anyone I confided in understood including my husband. He didn’t want to make the deployment any harder for me or the kids. Then someone gave me an idea. Why not meet somewhere neutral. That way we avoided the R&R at home. It would be a vacation that Dad would be there for. That is what we did. In fact I just returned from ten amazing days with my husband and kids. Yes, good bye was hard but knowing we were vacationing I think lessened the blow a little. Just an FYI there are some great military resorts out there!

  • Beth

    For the 1st deployment, my husband came home. I had it all planned out down to the second practically all the things to keep us busy so we wouldn’t think about him having to go back…it didn’t work.
    About 1/2 way through we both realized what was coming and it made it hard to enjoy the time we had together knowing what was coming. We were wiser this time and weren’t going into this without knowing what the seperation was going to be like.
    My husband actually considered escaping to Canada versus going back. Saying goodbye to him after R&R was harder than when he left to go overseas! We were miserable and he was horribly depressed when he got back.
    We have decided to skip the R&R if it is offered this time around. It doesn’t appear as though it will be though. There is talk that they will get it at the end of the deployment due to the government not allowing long enough orders for training and deployment.
    I can identify with you completely about skipping it and my family is very supportive. They saw how it tore us up when we had to say goodbye at R&R and how I was a total wreck after.
    Don’t let anyone decide what is right for you and your husband other than you.

  • City Girl

    I had similar thoughts during the beginning of my fiancee’s deployment. He did, as well. There were concerns that he would not be able to go back and get back into the groove of work. He is still currently deployed and we were lucky enough to spend his R&R together in Italy. Needless to say, it was an incredible vacation. We both needed to see each to rejuvenate our relationship. By no means were we getting tired of each other, but we were definitely struggling with the distance. I am holding onto that week until I see him March. Then we can create more amazing memories.

  • Leila

    Not to discount or trivialize, but I cannot imagine feeling that the end days in his 18 day block leave is so painful that it is worth skipping that time all-together. I feel independent enough in my life without him that I can rejoice in the time we get to spend together and see the end on the horizon. Kids must change the equation, true. But to deny me time with him because of the perceived emotional turmoil upon his departure would be a bizarre, foreign choice.

  • Cruehle

    My husband and I met in a neutral location in Germany for his R&R. We decided that would be easier for both of us rather than having him come home and have to leave our home again. We had a very nice vacation together, plus we got to spend more quality time together on his R&R since he didn’t have to travel all the way back to the U.S. Saying goodbye at the airport in Germany was extremely painful, but I think it was less painful than saying goodbye at home. If my hubbie is deployed again, we will definitely go this route.

  • When my fiance (we weren’t engaged then, but had been dating for awhile) was in Iraq and got his RR I got to meet him half-way(ish). We spent the time in Italy. It was easier for both us to make it into a holiday and go somewhere we had never been, plus he didn’t get into the “being home” mindset. If you can afford it than I recommend going that route (of course we had no children to worry about) it gave us both something to anticipate and it was easier to say good-bye again from Italy than it would have been from home. Plus, I had the trip to remember and the scrapbook to put together during the nights (and days) that I really missed him. It is something that my Grandma used to try and do when my Grandpa was in the NAVY, so I got the idea from an experienced military spouse!

  • That decision must not have been an easy one. It takes serious strength!

  • Jordan

    I am looking for sites that will connect me to military support groups that send care packages to our troops — specifically knitted scarves/caps/helmet liners/leg warmers to our troops in the Middle East/Iraq & Afghanistan — esp Marines, Army. Any/all suggestions would be helpful.