DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Rick," spent a year in Iraq. He has been home for 3 1/2 months. Before his return, the Army gave out a lot of information for us about what to expect upon his arrival -- how he might act, how the kids might react. None of it seems to have helped me.
Rick has had no trouble adjusting to being home. He has experienced no serious side effects from being there. The problem is me.
While Rick was gone, I did everything. I took care of our little boy, ran the house -- handled everything. Now that Rick is home, I'm having a hard time relearning how to share MY child and MY house with him. Yes, Abby, I know it's his baby and his house, too.
Rick's deployment was the first time I had ever lived by myself -- and I liked it. Now it seems that everything he does is wrong. Things that never used to bother me set me off now. I have gone from being a laid-back, patient person to a ranting, raving she-devil. Rick loads the dishwasher wrong and puts the toilet paper in backward; he drives wrong. Everything he does is wrong, because he does it differently than I do.
What's wrong with me? I know I'm acting like a lunatic. I love my husband very much and don't want to act this way. I want our marriage to be successful and happy. What can I do? -- ARMY WIFE IN NORTH CAROLINA
DEAR ARMY WIFE: There is nothing "wrong" with you. You are not the only wife who has felt this way. What the Army failed to tell you is that there's a period of readjustment not only for the returning soldier, but also for the spouse who was left behind. The solution lies in communicating your feelings before you explode.
The two of you must learn how to communicate effectively again. The secret is compromise. Taking time for just the two of you to be together would also be a giant step in the right direction. Both of you have changed during his deployment. If that doesn't improve the situation, marriage counseling should be your next step.
Keep in mind that you are among the lucky ones. Not everyone has been so fortunate as to have their loved ones return home.