5 Ways to Ensure a Happy Homecoming (That Don't Involve Sex)

Love & Sex 7

Tips for when traveling spouse returns home

There are only so many times I can complain about life getting wonky every time my husband comes home from a trip before it starts to get annoying, even to myself. But unless you've lived it, then the return of the away parent is pretty damn complicated.

But the truth is that it doesn't need to be that way. There is predictability and consistency within the chaos if you can find it. Of course, doing so means you have to be a little more organized, take the horse by its reins, and figure out a plan of attack that works for you, your spouse, and your family. However, after doing this for the last few years, it's worth it -- not just for your own sanity but for your relationship too.

So, here are a few tips that have helped us turn my husband's return home into a mostly happy occasion for everyone.

1. Take his word with a grain of salt. By this I mean, if he says, "I'll be home at 3 p.m." then don't set the timer for 3 p.m. I know this doesn't apply to everyone, but if you happen to be married to a pilot, then you know what I mean. Flights get delayed, the lines at customs get out of control, and suddenly 3 p.m. is now 6 p.m. and you're royally pissed. I'm sure men (and women) in other professions have the same issues. You get my drift. So, just go about your business and continue on with your schedule. It can be super-disappointing, even annoying if he doesn't come home when he says, so don't hold yourself to it.

2. Give him space when he returns (and instruct the kids to do the same).
As I've written before, the natural, overwhelmed mom instinct is to toss the kids at him like a football and run. Fight that urge as much as you can and give him time to drop his bags, change his clothes, and use the bathroom before entering him into the fray. Our kids have been taught to greet their father and then leave him alone until he comes down. It's made a world of difference for everyone.

3. Have a pre-arranged sleep in and alone time agreement. I've heard all sorts of arrangements that couples make to give each other much needed sleeping in time and alone time. Drop this idea of it ever being "even" because it won't, but still rally to have your share of time to yourself. Choose one day that you know he'll be home that's your sleep in day. Pick a two-hour window every week that you get to go out alone. Then afford him the same luxury. You might even want to pencil it in (or hey, use a Sharpie) on your calendar. It's just that important to have, particularly if you want to curtail any resentment and bitterness that might arise.

4. Create a division of labor arrangement. Whether it's you cook, he cleans, or he cooks, you clean, or you do both and then he does the entire bedtime and bathtime routine with the kids -- that's all up to you. But figure it out ahead of time so that it's like a well-choreographed line dance and not some crazy mosh pit. In the past, we've found ourselves in a place where I like to clean up right after dinner and he likes to wait until 11 p.m. to do it (and then it never actually completely gets done). So, I oftentimes just end up doing it because I get annoyed that I'm still washing dishes from the night before the next morning. Decide what's most important to you and then go with it.

5. Prep him on any new rules, issues, challenges, or successes BEFORE he gets home. I'll email or text my husband with anything new that happened while he was gone that he should know about before he walks in the door. This way, he's not offering to let the kids watch a movie when their television privileges have been taken away. It's also nice for him to know about the awesome things that have happened, too. I'd never send my business colleagues into a meeting without some prep, so don't toss your poor spouse to the wolves before giving him a head's up. That is unless he tried to tell you his trip to Vegas was completely exhausting. Then you might want to leave out some important details as a little payback. Ha!

There are, of course, a ton more! I'd love to know how you make your own transition better. In fact, I'd love to quote you for an upcoming project I have. So feel free to leave them in the comments, but if you've got some great tips to share -- all of which have to do with the crazy aspects of the away spouse coming home (regardless of how long he or she's been gone) and how you make it easier on you, your spouse, and your kids -- please email me: motherhooduncensored@yahoo.com.

Photo via Flickr/Neosnaps

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nonmember avatar Amanda

We're working on this. #3 is especially important, and the key is to realize that it will never be equal in our situation. I guess it's a matter of finding the amount of time the spouse at home needs to recover from the alone time, in our experience. I've found that trying to even it all out almost makes it worse - I end up feeling guilty that he comes home only to have to be in the same full-time single-ish parenting situation I was in all week.

nonmember avatar Nichole

Those are excellent ideas. I really need to work on the grain-of-salt thing. My husband flies a lot, and I know the delays are entirely out of his hands. But knowing that and not getting irritated about it are different animals!

Soulp... Soulprncs2

We use some of these and my husband is never away overnight.  Just very busy.  We really need to work on the kids giving him space when he gets home.

Sierra Rix

The kids and I will talk about where Dad has been, the places/people he's seen. The kids who are writing, will make a list of things they that happened while Dad was away to share with hime.

nonmember avatar monica

one of our biggest struggles with the reentry period was the competition for time with husband/dad was tight. there were 4 of us trying to stake a claim. (my husband frequently will be gone 10 days and then home over a weekend and then gone again). we came up with a solution that works very well for us. i pick him up from the airport, by myself, and we head out for coffee. it gives us time to reconnect, i'm able to catch him up on any changes at home and he's able to fill me in on what has happened with him while he's been away. it's also a good time for us to figure out what needs to be happen while he's home and how we're gonna get it done. it's gotten easier to do this as the kids have gotten older - no baby sitter needed anymore.

Meagan Francis

Oh my gosh, we have been dealing with this since...well, since the beginning of our marriage, in one way or another. So I know exactly where you're coming from. To build on your #1, which is so spot-on, I'd only add "Have no expectations on the first day." Don't expect him to be home at 6, even if he says he will be, and even if he really WANTS to be; don't expect him to come in hungry just because you've made a fantastic welcome-home dinner (he may have been so starving on the flight or drive home that he couldn't help grabbing dinner at the airport or hitting a drive-thru). Etc. As much as I understand the "it's not fair!" feeling of the mom who's been left behind, the more I travel for conferences and things now the more I am realizing how incredibly draining travel and being away from home can be.

I think one other thing I'd add is to make sure to fill your time when he's NOT around with plenty of friends, interesting conversation and activities. The last thing either you or your spouse need is for him to be EVERYTHING to you. Then you'll be desperate for him to get home as quick as humanly (or inhumanly) possible and he'll always feel torn between work and home. If I'm expecting my husband to be home at 5 and it turns out he's delayed until 9--or the next day, which happens to us frequently--I call a friend and make alternate dinner arrangements. That way he doesn't worry that he's let me down, and I still have a fun evening without moping around and feeling lonely.

Awiod... Awiodwedmistres

Really good tips-would be perfect for the returning man if you did include sex! Odds are he's missed you and wants to know you have missed him for more than Dad Duty-he wants to be your hero.

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