The speaker's progress on her journey is demonstrated by the anaphora that is scattered throughout the poem. For example, the anaphora of "only then" demonstrates the step-by-step nature of the relationship's healing: only after the wife completes one task can she begin another. Little by little she is starting to understand her husband again, but the anaphora underlines how tortuous the journey is.
The phrase "only then" is used five times throughout the poem, followed by two pairs of word patterns. These are:
only then would he let me ...
only then could I ...
These repeated phrases with small differences are evocative of small repeated steps towards progress being made, almost like two feet walking. This halting progress conjures the image of a soldier recuperating as well.
While the use of the word "would" in the first two lines is suggestive of doubt or hope, the word "could" is more indicative of the ability to actually complete a task. This again demonstrates the slow and steady progression of both the soldier's healing process and the re-establishment of the relationship with his wife.
The last line of the poem also repeats the "only then," but this time is followed by a unique word pattern:
Then, and only then, did I ...
This underlines the final, quiet success that the speaker has achieved. Instead of the modal verbs used in the previous pairs ("would" and "could"), the definitive past tense "did" demonstrates a successfully completed action. The speaker has finally come close to her husband again.