Greener Grass and All That Jazz

Why is it that even when you are sure of your decisions and that you chose wisely, that the grass STILL looks greener in someone else's yard?

The latest example of this for us? Our decision that my husband not come home for R & R.

It was something we talked about and something that I left open ended for him. If he needed to come home or wanted to come home, it was not like I would not be excited. However, I told my husband before he deployed that he should not feel like he must come home for me. I would be okay. And, so would the kids.

To me, goodbye is entirely more gut wrenching than the waiting.

Add in that we are in the final stages of an international adoption and it was wholly possible that he would come home and I would be in Africa or that he would meet his new daughter and then leave in 15 days. Neither of those options seemed attractive, so we deferred.

Now, we're approximately halfway through this deployment and one of the couples we are closest to is finishing up their R&R. Not that I have heard from these two during this time period, but their Facebook status messages keep everyone updated on their Thanksgiving together and the like.

When I spoke with my husband today and he sounded like he truly misses me (not just the "I miss ya, babe" that I can always count on hearing), it made me wonder if we'd made the right decision. Especially given that our court date overseas has been reset and it's unclear when our adoption will be finalized. I thought how nice it would be to have had him here this week, hanging out with us, celebrating our daughter's 11th birthday and eating turkey.

Then, I remembered.

It's only 15 days and in a few days, my friend will have to say goodbye to her husband. Again.

The grass looks kinda wilted at that point.

I'm curious, though, especially given the horrified reaction of nearly EVERY wife I've spoken to who has asked me what we're doing for R&R if I'm the only one who would rather go 12 months and be together for good (as good as the Army lets us be) than have to say goodbye yet again? If you and your spouse talked about this, I'm also curious what went into your decisions on this matter. I think it might be helpful for other spouses facing this and could help them come to a solid decision. If you have the experience of multiple deployments, some with R&R and some without, what are the pros and cons you can note?

I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts in comments!

About the Author

Guard Wife

Melinda, who writes as Guard Wife, hails from a rural farming community in a Midwestern state. She moved to the southwest part of her home state to attend college and remains there some twenty years later. Today, she's a licensed attorney who spends most of her professional time working within the academic support and bar exam passage programs at her alma mater. Her volunteer interests vary from pro bono legal work to Brownie troop leader to Soldiers' Angels. Melinda and her husband have three daughters, the youngest of whom the couple brought home from Ethiopia the same week Melinda's husband returned from a deployment to Iraq.

Melinda also writes about her experiences as the mom of an older internationally adopted child at and maintains her individual blog at

  • My husband’s an infantry Marine, so we’re used to 7 month deployments. He was given an assignment this time which makes his deployment 12 months instead of 7, a first for both of us.
    We knew we wanted R&R but I can’t say I’m not worried about the goodbye and I’m getting the feeling he might be too. We both agreed we would rather he not come home, be in our house and get used to being here, and then have to leave again. We don’t have children yet, so this was a pretty feasible option for us and we decided to meet in Hawaii.
    It was our compromise – sort of a visit and battery recharge without re-integrating into my daily life. We’ll see how things go. Military flights and trying to book my tickets already has me anxious enough without worrying about saying goodbye again on top of that!

  • Guard Wife

    The last time my husband deployed, he had a 3.75 day leave. I basically traveled twice as long to get there to see him than I spent with him, but it worked out well. I hope your trip does too! At least in Hawaii, if he has to leave before you do (I arrived a day earlier and left a day later than my husband), you’ll have no trouble finding something to do to stay busy.
    Hope all the travel works out!

  • I’m not horrified, but I know I wouldn’t want to accept going a whole 12 months without seeing DM.
    Then again, when I was in Iraq, I didn’t go home for my leave, so I feel a little hypocritical saying I wouldn’t want DM to make the same decision.

  • Sarah

    I never considered not taking R&R, and it wasn’t a difficult transition for us. It might’ve helped that he got it at the 9-month mark, so by the time he left we could say, “No problem, you’ll be home so soon,” and mean it. And my friend’s husband died while my husband was on R&R. While that sure didn’t make it easier to let him leave again, I was glad he was there to hold me while I cried.
    Right now we’re on a 9 month deployment. I would give anything we have and any amount of money for an R&R, so he could see me pregnant and feel our baby kick.
    I mentioned another aspect once before when AirForceWife wrote a similar post:—do… I’d like to repost that comment here as food for thought:
    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.

  • We talked about him not taking his R&R. I left it up to him, but I think he can tell that I desperately need a break from this deployment – no matter how short that break is. I hit the crazy mark about a month ago.
    I hate that I will have to say goodbye again, but him being home for Christmas somehow looks better than the goodbye part – for now. :)

  • Guard Wife

    When we originally made this decision, he was supposed to be able to go for a side trip (he took his passport) that lots of soldiers go on–a place he’s never been & likely would never get to if not for this deployment. But, just as the chance for leave for the States was questionable for him, the side trip was more trouble than it was worth (his words) so not sure what he will do.
    After this morning, I’m pretty much completely over this deployment, the Army and anyone else associated with the crapstorm I find myself in at the moment. I’m so glad 20 years is in sight.

  • The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 11/30/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

  • abar

    We talked about his R&R for the last six months. He had it all thought out – we would meet in this other country and have some fun. Although we love being together, in the end, he went alone. We are both solitary people and he just needed some time away from everyone which he so rarely gets where he is. I wanted to see him but knew that the time alone and visiting friends he had not seen in years was a better option for him and ultimately better for us as well.

  • Marine Wife

    We did our R&R at around the 9 month mark of our 1 yr deployment. It was nice that he was home for one of our kids’ birthday. But I gotta say, it also made the last 3 months of the deployment (which included the holidays) even worse. They were craptastic hell on wheels compared the 9 months before R&R, which wasn’t exactly a funfest to begin with. Neither of us is too sure if we’d do it again or not.

  • Wow…um, there is no way my DF could of said he wasn’t going to see me during his R&R. His hasn’t come up yet, but it’ll be around the 9 mo. time frame also. We talked about it before he left, and his first reaction was he wasn’t coming home. As other’s have said, he requested that I get my passport ready to go, but that quickly changed once he saw all the expenses. So, he then decided to come home for the 15 days. I’m looking forward to it, and I feel like since tomorrow isn’t promised (especially in many of our circumstances) I’d rather see him any chance I can get. Yes, the departure is going to be hard, difficult, and probably a straight out cry fest. But every tear, every internal pain, and all will be worth it to have seen, touched, hugged, and spent time w/ my DF.
    Just my thoughts!

  • Reasa

    Hmmm, personally I do not want Hubby to come home on R&R. It is his call though and I understand his need for his break from all the crap he deals with. Add to it that he has missed most of the Baby’s life, he feels he needs to be around as much as possible for even a few days.
    The goodbyes no matter for how long or when they happen, just plain suck. The decision is a personal one that only you and Hubs can decide.
    What it comes down to is what each of you need. The right decision for one is not always the right decision for another. This is not a black and white issue. To many areas to look at to make the decision. Some guys need it and some don’t.

  • I have been through this same thought process, although we have never actually experienced R&R. My husband’s first 2 deployments were only 6 months (Kuwait and Kosovo) so there was no R&R. When he deployed to Iraq we went through the same struggle of whether he should come home. We decided to “wait and see.” Then, DH was wounded 6 months into his deployment, so R&R never really happened.
    I think it depends on your relationship and how you all “function” during deployments. I’d say it’s a case by case basis and you have to do what you think is best for you and your family.

  • phyllis

    My husband has been on two deployments, the first one he waffeled until he decided he had to leave Iraq. We had a great time traveling with the kids. The second time I was so mad at him for something, He could have stayed for all I cared. He came home anyway, I was still mad.

  • ProudNLoyal

    Hubs and I actually had decided he didn’t do it, saying goodbye again and all that. However, his unit made R&R mandatory. We would have preferred saving the leave days for after the deployment, but we didn’t have that option. AND, they sent him home at the 4 month mark- way too early.
    Oh Well. It was okay having him home, but I dwelt on him leaving so much it kind of overshadowed him actually being here.

  • I’m constantly surprised. The stories I think are brilliant (look out, ego flying by) usually end up in the retirement bin and those I’m not sure off sell to really good magazines. Go figure.