This week I’ll be in Colorado. I’m going to speak at two MOPS groups, to do some recording for Focus on the Family, and to get the word out to the moms in Colorado that there will be a Hearts at Home conference in Colorado October 7-8!
Over 28 years of marriage, we’ve had times that we’ve been away from home for one reason or another. Mark occasionally does a guys weekend away with some buddies or attends a conference. I travel for speaking and for Hearts at Home on occasion.
Whether its for business, tending to the needs of extended family, attending a conference, or enjoying a weekend away with some friends, most couples find themselves separated at some time or another.
What’s important, however, is the plan to reconnect intentionally after you’ve been apart. We call this “re-entry,” and it’s what today’s Marriage Monday is all about.
Military families are schooled on the concept of re-entry after dealing with lengthy deployments and times of separation. Re-entry simply means that there is a plan in place to reconnect intentionally.
When Jill and I first learned about re-entry, we started putting a date on the calendar for us to talk without interruption within 24 hours of our return. We couldn’t believe the difference this made for us.
One day a friend of mine found herself torn between two feelings as she faced her husband coming home from yet another business trip. His job required him to travel a lot. She always looked forward to him coming home but she also dreaded it, too. When I asked her why she said that one of the first things he wanted was physical intimacy and that was furthest from her mind because she felt emotionally disconnected from him.
I challenged her to do something different when he arrived home this time. I suggested that she meet him at the airport so that the two of them could go get a cup of coffee or dinner together before he was immersed back into the demands of parenting and the chaos at home.
She decided to give it a try and reported back several days later that it had made a HUGE difference for them. They connected emotionally as a couple over coffee hearing all about the things that had happened while they were apart. Because they first connected emotionally, there were no issues connecting physically later that weekend.
I’ve come to appreciate our re-entry dates. Sometimes we go out and sometimes we just determine to sit on the porch and talk after the kids are in bed. Either way works, as long as we plan it!
When one of us has been gone, it’s important that we have time to debrief as parents. If Mark’s been gone, he needs to know who’s grounded, what homework projects are on the radar screen, and anything else that happened in his absence. And if I’m gone, I need to know the same.
When our kids were small and having meaningful conversations was difficult, Jill and I even used this concept daily. We would take 15 minutes after I got home from work to sit on the porch (in the summer) and talk or sit at the dining room table and talk (in the winter). This allowed us to intentionally reconnect before we headed into the chaos of the evening.
So the next time you and your spouse are going to be apart for whatever reason, put a re-entry date on the calendar. Mark and I already have ours on the calendar for when I get home…and I’m already looking forward to it!
What about you? What strategies have you found helpful to re-connect after being gone from one another?