with open arms seems easy and obvious. But when you've done the lion's share of the parenting, housework, and kid-schlepping for the last few days or weeks, welcoming your spouse home isn't as easy as it sounds. You've established your rhythm and rules. Suddenly having a helpful parent around who's not on the same page can be hard. Here are 7 ways to keep the peace.
1: Connect while you're apart
When my husband was in China for over two weeks, Skype was invaluable. Being able to see each other while we talked - even just a few times - made a huge difference in how we connected. But even when you don't have time to sit and chat, you can steal a few minutes from the daily chaos to check in with your honey. Facebook and texting are quick and easy ways to say "I'm thinking about you."
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2: Write each other old-school love letters
There are few things sweeter than reading, in their own words, how our spouses loves us. Take ten minutes before he or she heads out the door to channel your inner Emerson. Write each other a note to be opened during the absence. While you may not pen "thou art to me a delicious torment," your words to each other can be just as impassioned and go a long way towards fanning the flames when he or she returns.
Your spouse's first night back should be a celebration. If possible, clear the calendar for a family dinner and game night. Keep it simple. Don't stress yourself out with fancy meal preparations; lasagna from Costco is fine. Pour a glass of wine (juice for the kids) and enjoy relaxing and laughing together. Real life can start in the morning.
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4: Fly the coop
The second or third night after your spouse returns, get out of Dodge. Take yourself out for dinner, to a bookstore, get a pedicure, go out to drinks with friends. Leave enough time so that you can sit in a coffee shop and hear yourself think. Journal, if you like, or read a book. Breathe. Your husband or wife can handle the kids solo for a night.
5: Ditch the rules
While you're out enjoying yourself, things will not go as planned at home. The kids will have juice before bed. They'll leave toys all over the living room. And bedtime will be late. Accept these facts upfront and save yourself some heartache and an argument when you get home. Try to graciously accept that when another parent is in charge, his or her rhythm and rules will be different than yours. Getting away is about re-connecting with yourself; enjoy the moment and deal with the rest another time.
Yep, you're going out again. This time, your spouse is coming too. Within the first few nights of their return, schedule some time to rekindle the romance. Date nights don't have to be fancy-dinner budget-busters. The two of you can walk around the lake or take a scenic drive. The idea is to make time to laugh with the person you fell in love with, which will help you both survive the bumps and bruises of business travel reunions.
7: Expectations meetings
One of my former bosses used to schedule regular "expectations meetings" with his staff to make sure we were on the same page as he was regarding our goals and expectations for the year. This is a great tool for a marriage, too. I find that some rules I create for the kids when my husband travels exists simply so I can stay sane during his trips. Those rules aren't really necessary when there are two of us in the house. Still, it's easy to cling to "my" rules and create unnecessary conflict. Sitting down regularly to talk about these things - setting expectations - can help you and your spouse establish what really matters. You don't have to do things his way, and he doesn't have to do them yours, but you want to generally be on the same page in terms of childcare and household maintenance.
- By Kirsetin K. Morello
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