To put it mildly, us military families value a service member’s visit home for Rest and Recuperation (Rest and Relaxation, or R&R). Military spouses get a chance to reconnect with their beloved husband or wife. But, of course, R&R is fleeting.
Here are some tips designed to help you maximize that time:
Before your spouse arrives home, romantic thoughts of having him or her all to yourself will arise. But don’t expect this to translate into reality, especially if you have kids. In fact, children are more likely to let their parents have alone time if they spent time with the returning service member first.
You can consider a more family oriented activity at the outset. But some Military Spouse readers, such as Katie Givens, suggested structuring time with family. “Get away from the family,” she wrote. “It was the best thing we could have done. We gave them each a day to have a meal with him.”
No matter what, make sure communication is paramount. Talk to your spouse before the R&R to find out what they’re comfortable with. Communication before the visit gives both of you the chance to roughly outline plans. Returning spouses may want some alone time to sleep, get over jet lag or adapt to be home. Be understanding and welcoming. As Military Spouse reader Jessica Rivera put it, “Let the soldier rest!”
If you want to spend quality time together, avoid controversial topics and serious marital problems. The short amount of time you share during R&R shouldn’t be consumed by negative tension and fighting. Plus it’s often not enough time to hash out any problems that lingered before the spouse left.
Even if there is a long list of chores to do around the house and you need your spouse’s help cleaning the gutter or organizing the basement, do not burden your returning spouse upon arrival. If the time seems right pare down the list to some of the easier tasks you can do together.
It’s better to enjoy time together with a cluttered basement than to spend a few angst-filled days together bickering over a to-do list.
For service members returning from combat zones, a quieter home is often ideal. Be affectionate and do what you can to help them rest and relax.
This is especially important if you are, say, introducing a new family member, or have young children. Keep plans simple. Elaborate parties or vacations are not necessary. Less is more.
In anticipation of a return home, a service member’s nostalgia may make them long for their favorite fast food, dessert or locally-brewed beer. Be wary of excessive celebrations that may be unhealthy, but certainly be ready to indulge. Remember that a service member has a very different daily diet while deployed. Their body will handle changes better if they are gradual and not overdone. The trick here is to celebrate but make sure it is in moderation. The last thing you want is to have your soldier (or you) be ill during R&R!
Try to arrange a special event for just the two of you. It can be as simple as a night at home with popcorn and a movie or a fancy dinner at a five-star restaurant. Live in the moment and appreciate the bond you two share.
“Just do whatever sounds good when you wake up,” wrote Military Spouse reader Nena Harris.
Take pictures when other family comes over or your spouse is playing with the kids and have others take pictures of you and your spouse.
Remember that R&R can change at any time, sometimes even requiring service member to leave early.
Take none of your time together for granted because you’ll have to say “See you soon” all too soon.
Photo thanks to The U.S. Army via Flickr Creative Commons