Coming Back Together: A guide for successful reintegration after your partner returns from military deployment, by Steven Sayers (New Harbinger publications, 2014) is a terrific book for spouses and partners of deployed service members and veterans. For many years, families of servicemen and women were given scant attention by those treating veterans with post deployment issues. As we understand more about the toll that long deployments take on their partners and children, and the difficulties of reintegrating into civilian life, there has been increasing attention to families.
Dr Sayers, a long time couples researcher at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center , and a faculty member of the Center for Couples and Adult Families at the University of Pennsylvania Department of Psychiatry, has a career commitment to supporting military families.
Military service which includes deployments away from family can profoundly alter the service member, the partner and the family structure. As Dr Sayers points out, often, given the values of military life which include stoicism and toughness, the returning veteran may not be ready to work directly on their marriage. Therefore, his book principally targets the partner, helping her or him to understand the issues and initiate change when needed. With an upbeat, sensible practical approach, Sayers reviews common problems that such couples face, during the immediate pre-return period and the first weeks and months of reintegration. His goal is not only to help the couple manage problems, but to help them achieve a new and better relationship. Using a cognitive behavioral approach, he reviews methods of improving communications and sexual intimacy, dealing with emotional or physical wounds that the partner may have, supporting the complex needs of children of different ages when their parent returns. His chapters on communication and problem solving are useful techniques for any marriage, but with emphasis on the special issues inherent in military culture.
A warm, positive, must have book for partners of service members. This book is also useful for therapists working with military families.
Reviewed by Ellen Berman MD