Marriage Monday: The importance of having a re-entry plan

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.

Jill says…
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.

Mark says…
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.

Jill says…
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.

Mark says…
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!

Jill says…
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.

Mark says…
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?

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10 Responses to Marriage Monday: The importance of having a re-entry plan

  1. Michelle D says:

    Great advice. It can be really hard to connect with my spouse. With kids 7, 4 & 6 months old. I feel like it’s been a hard to connect with my husband. Seems like there’s no time to connect or just to tired to connect. I will try your ideas.

  2. Lisa Buchanan says:

    During my devotional this morning, I heard God speaking to me about just this – slowing down and enjoying what little bit of time that we have here on earth. I have had several emails/devotionals/blogs this morning that I have told me the same thing. I am listening to him and I am learning to slow down and let His word be more important than anything and then all else will fall into place.

  3. Treva Buchanan says:

    My husband and I don’t travel outside the home (he use to be an over the road truck driver but hasn’t done that in almost 6 yrs…thank God!). However, our weekends/week nights can be hectic at times. He volunteers at church a lot so when we don’t connect on the weekends I tend to feel disconnected from him. I love your suggestions…think I’ll give it a try :-)

  4. Cindy Grouss says:

    This is spot on. My husband is a paramedic and works a rotating 24 hours and is off 48 hours (occasional overtime means 48 hours on/24 hrs off) and reconnecting is key for marriage well-being. When he comes home from work @ 8am we’ll spend a good 45 minutes with our morning coffee catching up and sharing our previous day with each and touch base on anything else going on. Quality time is also my primary love language so if we don’t have this time I find myself feeling mad at him for “no reason”.

  5. Wani says:

    My DH and felt the need to have a re-entry date after our family vacation a couple of weeks ago. Even though we had actually been together a lot on vacation we had not been alone together in awhile. It made such a difference in how we were relating to one another after we had the boys spend the night at my inlaws’ so we could have a night alone.

  6. Lisa H. says:

    I loved this post. I used to have a job where I traveled about 5 weeks out of the year for 2-7 days at a time. Although we were always excited to see each other after a trip, we never made intentional date plans around my travel dates. Now that I stay home, I take our daughter up to visit my family every couple weeks. We’re going to try to start planning our date nights within a day or two of my return. Thanks for the suggestion!

  7. alissa says:

    Our family serves as missionaries for the Church of the Nazarene in Guatemala. My husband travels about half the month on various trips. We have two boys, 5 and 3, so we do several things to keep the family up-to-date when daddy is gone. We keep a “while you were gone, Daddy” notebook where I jot down the basics of what happened each day, and special/funny/interesting things that happened. I also make notes of things that happened with me too not just the kids, and things we need to discuss. then for re-entry: the first meal together after daddy comes back he reads through the notebook and comments, asks questions, etc with the kids. Then when we can, we go through the stuff for the two of us. The kids also color pictures or I take pictures of them playing, etc through the week and send them to his blackberry so he can see us. Each morning when I am doing my devotions I send an “appreciation text” to him – thinking of something unique each day to say that is thankful, or positive for who he is in our life. After reading your re-entry email, I forwarded it to him and he replied saying we definitely need a more concrete specific time for the two of us to catch-up after he is gone. Thanks for the email, since then I can see he is really trying and it is helping us.