The holidays can be pretty stressful for the general population, with all the high expectations, hype, and sentimental music. And combat vets and their families may experience even greater anxiety than the average family.
For many veterans, the holidays bring back memories of some pretty horrendous events they’ve experienced. They then may have “anniversary reactions” that are either conscious or subconscious. This might result in nightmares, increased anxiety, and uncomfortable physical reactions.
I can remember some pretty sad holidays I spent with my first spouse when he came back from the war. While nothing was said about Nam, I knew his experiences were always there in the back of his mind. He’d stay away from home a lot, while I was left to do all the preparations, like trimming the tree, buying and wrapping presents, etc.
It was up to me to try and remain cheerful for the children. Putting on a happy face when you’re feeling sad and lonely, can be exhausting after awhile. And in those days, we had no Internet, no support at all. At least today we have information available that can help us get the most out of the holidays, or sometimes to merely “survive” them.
The website VietNow has an excellent article on “Coping with the Holidays.” How I wish I’d had something like that to read, back in the day when I was dealing with such challenges with my combat spouse. But better late, than never.
As the authors, Mary Tendall and Jan Fishler note in the article:
Coping with a grumpy spouse is a challenge that often requires compassion and creativity.
For more insights on how to best handle the holidays with your combat spouse, go to: