It’s 10 p.m. Standing on the flight deck, I am freezing. Yet the bitter bite of the wind isn’t noticeable through shaken nerves. I am alone with my thoughts as friends stand around me. I feel pressure. Pressure to feel some sort of whirl-wind excitement. Pressure to cry and yell out his name. As I watch Marines and their families collapse into each other’s arms, I feel a building amount of anxiety. Is that how I am supposed to react? All I am thinking about is how different everything will be. And that my feet are killing me in these heels. Will I be as beautiful as he remembered? Will he be as charming as I remembered? As 25-year-olds, will we still have that spark? Clones of Marines appear. No one looks familiar. I feel sick. All those feelings escape with just one glance from my husband and I am unexpectedly leaping into his arms.
Now we are home. It is midnight and we are wide awake. Like 15-year-olds on their first date, everything feels new. He hasn’t even changed out of the uniform that still carries dust from the Middle East. We are just sitting and talking, staring at each other. We both know what comes next. Sure, I am no longer nervous welcoming my husband home, but I am now petrified to take him to bed, like being a teenager all over again.
Are things back to normal? It’s an underlining question now that time has passed. Everyone talks about the reintegration of everyday life, but little is said about the restoration of intimacy. Now that the welcome home is fizzling, and the relocation of which cabinet hides the bowls has been discovered, we are left with finding harmony in our own relationship, together. How do we get back to the way we were before war; before complacency? How does he jump back into the romance? And how do I meet him in the middle with sensuality? Attributes we have both gone so long without. The anxiety I felt on the flight deck, waiting to welcome my husband home comes flooding back when confronted with the thought of intimacy. I thought how does one even begin to get past this?
From my recent experience I have tips for those willing to take them. First, I would suggest communicating your apprehensions with one another. Before the homecoming discuss what each of your expectations are when it comes to intimacy. This gives you the opportunity to remain on the same page. What you have been longing for since the day they left may be a little different from what they have been daydreaming over. Of course there are some of us that have no problem with the thought of being intimate with our spouse after a long separation. But communicating your desires with one another could be enjoyable and substantial. The conversation itself may provide a bit of entertainment.
Once you and your spouse are on the same page, and details have been laid out, having them home may still seem overwhelming at first. I would urge you to take things slow. Aspects of your relationship may not work as well as you remember, metaphorically and physically speaking. Depending on how long the separation has been, it is possible that getting back to where you were before can seem difficult. Relearning each other’s needs might require some time. Don’t push anything that may feel different or uncomfortable.
Take some time for yourselves. Spend some nights focused on regaining the intimacy that has been missing for so long. Find a babysitter, get a hotel room, or take a vacation. Utilize the leave your spouse receives to work not only on the everyday norms, but also your own personal relationship with one another. Furthermore, understand that everything that is new for your spouse upon their homecoming may be a thrill for them. But for someone who has spent the past seven plus months on the homefront, maintaining what is now covered in gear, not everything feels as new and exciting. Getting out of the house can stimulate something for the both of you.
It is also beneficial to bring humor into the equation. Things might be a little shaky at first. Don’t get frustrated. Learn to laugh at the little hiccups and keep the mood light. When intimacy is concerned it’s easy to offend and get defensive. Being tense just brings discomfort and adds unnecessary pressure. Ease into things with some lighthearted fun.
My husband and I have had an easy adjustment back to being the couple we were before he left. From standing on the flight deck fearing the unknown and perhaps some changes to our relationship, to now looking forward to a long extended, romantic vacation has been a complete shift in the last couple of weeks. And guess what? The spark is still there.