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Reconnecting to Loved Ones: Strengthening Personal Commitments

Reconnecting to Loved Ones: Strengthening Personal Commitments

Part 12 of the “Managing Your Transition Home” blog series.

By Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh

 

This is the third of four posts in which we discuss quick tips that are useful to all personality types during the transition from service to civilian life. In our previous posts in this series we examined self-care and the return to work. In this post we cover reconnecting to loved ones.

Many who have served return with a heightened sense of responsibility and at the same time a feeling of not knowing where to direct their efforts because others have been in charge of home responsibilities (e.g., chores, bills, childcare) while they were away. During reintegration, finding your place can be difficult, as there’s a tendency to do too much or too little in response to ambiguity. Existing roles and relationships will likely require renegotiation. Your mission is to strike a balance between your need to be useful now with honoring the structures your significant others created to cope in your absence. While this process will require effort and care, it can become the source of a new level of depth and understanding in your key personal relationships.

Here are some simple yet important tips designed to help you gain a new and stronger footing in your relationships with significant others:*

  • Don’t mistake a lack of understanding with a lack of caring—even informed loved ones can be confused about reintegration.
  • Understand that transitions and sacrifices have been experienced on both sides—by you and by those left at home.
  • Demonstrate patience—family members and significant others experienced their own challenges while you were gone.
  • Proceed slowly as you resume family responsibilities—someone took care of these while you were away, and it may take some adjustment to reconfigure roles and redistribute authority.
  • Anticipate some conflict between your sense of what’s important and what others want, expect, or think you should be or do.
  • Recognize that feelings of estrangement, lack of intimacy, or a sense of neediness are standard responses to separation that should diminish over time.
  • Be honest about your needs—don’t expect loved ones to read your mind.
  • Take time to rebuild your relationships through shared activities, couple time, family gatherings, etc.
  • Get the advice and support of other families, friends, or couples who have had similar reintegration challenges.
  • Talk with a friend, mentor, spiritual advisor, chaplain, or counselor; or join a support group if you are having trouble—many people experience some relationship difficulties during reintegration.

iStock_hirsh blog2Use the tips above, along with knowledge about your personality type, to reflect on how things are going and what you need most in your important relationships. Our hope is that considering who you are as you navigate the unique challenges reintegration places on relationships can help you forge stronger, more vibrant connections with those you care about most. Be patient with the process of getting back into home life; read this article with your loved ones to open up a dialogue—you may find that feelings of confusion are quite normal and shared all around.

You can learn more about the topic of personality type and reintegration in our booklet Introduction to Type® and Reintegration.

*Source: E. Hirsh, K. W. Hirsh, and J. Peak, Introduction to Type® and Reintegration: A Framework for Managing the Transition Home (Sunnyvale, CA: CPP, Inc., 2011), 56.

 

Read all previous blogs in the “Managing Your Transition Home” series here.

 

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Elizabeth and Katherine Hirsh are coauthors of several publications, including Introduction to Type® and TeamsMBTI® Teambuilding Program: Leader’s Resource GuideIntroduction to Type® and Decision Making, and the MBTI® Decision-Making Style Report.

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