Of course you want to help them enjoy their time off as much as possible, but sometimes, especially if you have little ones that require a lot of attention, there's no avoiding the stress of responsibilities that come with being home. You can get overwhelmed trying to find the balance between making their return home relaxing and incorporating them back into the daily routine. Also, they can get overwhelmed trying to take on their share while transitioning back into home life.
HuffingtonPost.com interviewed Sgt. First Class Kent Phyfe and his family to talk about the stress of homecoming. He said that while coming home is great, his wife doesn't deny that reintegrating him back into family life "is one of the hardest parts about being a military couple." He explained that the spouse at home has to be the mother and the father, taking over all the roles in the house. It can be difficult to release the duties at the drop of a hat to another person. While it's an issue that sounds trivial to those that don't experience it, it is actually quite straining on a couple.
It's a completely understandable way to feel. Any spouse returning home tends to throw a curveball into the family routine. However, there are a few things that you can do that will make the reunion better for you, your wife, and the rest of your family, while keeping any uprooting to a minimum. With a little planning ahead of time, and some intermittent surprises along the way, you can make your wife's homecoming the most memorable one yet.
Work Together to Fix That One Thing She Hates
Whether she talks about it a lot or not, there's undoubtedly something in your home that your wife hates. Maybe it's the ugly tile in the bathroom, or that harsh florescent light in the kitchen. Maybe it's something as small as there being no place for the kids to throw their bags when they get home from school.
The next time she's home, make it your priority to fix that one thing. Taking on a project together, especially if it's one that you'll both appreciate the outcome of, will help you connect more. It's something productive that you can do together, you won't have to release any of your duties to her, and working towards a common goal is a great way to remind you both that you're a team.
You can even get the kids involved. Depending on their age ranges, Family.com suggests everything from painting and gardening, to refinishing furniture and building storage shelves. You'll bond as a family and enjoy the sense of accomplishment you get when you finish the project.
Make Time for Just the Two of You
Some couples with kids find it hard to make time for just the two of them even when they see one another every day. When you only get to see your loved one a few times every year, it can be even more difficult to make the most of your time together. She's undoubtedly going to want to spend a lot of time with the kids, but it's just as important that you have some nights out together, just the two of you.
Depending on where she was stationed, there are probably a lot of places she's really missed around where you live. That restaurant with the really good steaks downtown, that bar where her friend works, the cute shop with homemade jewelry—take her to all of them. Even if you've visited some of them recently, for her, coming home is a lot more than the house. It's the people and the community.
Let Her Spoil Herself
While on duty, remember that your wife spends the majority of her time in a wardrobe that hides her shape. Give her the opportunity to wear something that makes her feel feminine and beautiful. Surprising her with a gift card to her favorite clothing store (ask her friends or go for a bigger department store if you're unsure) is a great way to let her buy a few new things that she can enjoy while out on the town with you one night. The fact that she didn't have to ask for it, and you've already spent the money, means she has no reason to feel guilty spoiling herself a little.
For the cherry on top, surprise her with some lingerie. If your wife isn't a fan of lingerie, or you're unsure of her sizing/preferences, buying a nice silk robe will show that you really just care. Also, as noted on AdamEve.com, "Lingerie makes everyone feel sexy and desirable." To that end, your wife could be looking to feel that way after a long time away, and the perfect get-up could solve that problem. Really, lingerie is a great way to help your wife feel beautiful and desired.
Whether you opt for a robe or a set of lingerie, it gives her a sexy option that's perfect for when she's getting ready, or relaxing before bed. As for the robe, she can even wear it over her regular undies. It won't matter what she has on underneath when you see her in a satin black robe.
Make Sure She Has Her Own Space
A blog post on HomeDepotMilitary.com suggests that you make your home a relaxing retreat for her. A well-designed bedroom or corner-reading nook will give her a comfortable place to reflect when she needs a quiet moment to herself. You can make it even better by setting it up with comfy blanket, some magazines, or a new book or two for her to enjoy.
The bathroom is also a great place that she can unwind. Be sure to fill it with her favorite scented candles and bath accessories, making it her own personal spa. A quick search online will show you how to stage the room to make it inviting and serene.
When a military spouse comes home, it can be hard to know what to say, but if you try a few of these suggestions, she'll be at a loss for words too.
About the Author: Ann Raynis is a freelance writer and self-proclaimed queen of making blueberry pancakes. Members of her family have served in the Army, Air Force, and the Coast Guard. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, David, and their yellow lab, Buster.