Emotional Cycles of Deployment: Stage 2 – Detachment and Withdrawal for an Army Wife

Josh and Alison hug during pre-deployment pictures at Fort Carson, CO.

The detachment and withdrawal stage occurs in the final days and week prior to deployment. The description provided by the Army’s website, hooah4health is specific to the soldier and his or her spouse.  Alison shares her experience with this stage:

 I find this stage to be one of the most difficult emotionally and mentally.  In the front of my mind I am preparing to be a single-married person; once the deployment starts I don’t have my husband to confide in or run to for support—I become the sole decision maker.  In the back of my mind I often feel guilty planning my next twelve months without my husband because I know there will be some good times with my family and friends.

I don’t always express my feelings of sadness and anger about him leaving—but they are always present.  Josh and I try to spend as much time together as possible but I find that I start distancing myself a couple of weeks prior to deployment while Josh seems to draw closer to me during this time.  This happens on an hourly basis and the constant attaching and detaching is an emotional roller-coaster.  I’ve come to accept this as something I have to just let happen.     

Josh and Alison have a tradition for their last night together before deployment - dinner at Red Lobster.

Our emotions are high and our tempers are short so at times petty issues turn into major problems.  I start to feel numb to emotional pain; it’s my body’s way of protecting me from the ups and downs of the coming year.

I think this stage is the most strenuous on the marriage, particularly for couples experiencing their first deployment.  This is Josh’s third tour and it seems easier now to recognize the stages we are going through and we expect things to be rocky and emotional.

Ted - the bear with Josh's voice on a computer chip.

It’s common to have a lot of platoon, company, and battalion events during the final weeks. These last-minute gatherings provide bonding opportunities for the soldiers and the wives as we all prepare for the deployment.

Josh and I always go out to dinner for his favorite meal at Red Lobster the night before he deploys.  He gave me a bear named Ted, which has a recorded personal message from Josh reminding me of his love and encouraging me to push on—such a precious gift.    

Thanks again to Alison for sharing the wife’s perspective.  My experience with this stage as a mother will be covered in my next post.

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2 Responses

  1. Alison, your love for each other is evident and will carry you through. Thank you for sharing!

  2. […] blog postings by Tracie Ciambotti:   An Army Mom Prays with Each Military Loss   Deployment Emotional Cycles: Stage 2 for an Army Wife   Deployment Emotional Cycles: Stage 1 for an Army Wife   Deployment Emotional Cycles: Stage 1 […]

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