Homecoming is a hard thing to prep for as a military spouse. It’s hard to keep your mind from wandering. The imagination runs wild, and after being on your own so long, it feel nice to hope and fantasize about how all of your worries and your loneliness will melt away and magically your family will move forward without missing a beat.
Unfortunately, that’s seldom the case.
It’s key to remember that a successful reintegration and homecoming is one that has few expectations, because disappointment can really sour everything. One area that expectations are hard to manage is in the bedroom.
Sexual intimacy is an important part of a marriage. It is a wonderful way to reunite with your spouse and express love and affection.
But homecoming reunions are not always “sexy”. Homecoming is an unforgettably wonderful, amazing and memorable time. But homecoming is also just as confusing, frustrating, stressful and complicated as it is joyous. For most people, there are just as many knots in your stomach as there are butterflies.
Time has passed, and no matter how many letters you have written or Skype dates you have had with your spouse, your spouse has changed and you have changed as well. This is completely normal, but it takes some adjustment. Both of you are nervous and clumsy and giggly or crying and you have to realize that it’s fine for the reunion to not be the slow-motion run and long, romantic kiss like you see in the movies. Give it time.
Forget the spouse who tells you all about their 12-hour “locked door” session the night her husband came home, a vast majority of service members come home dead tired. They have likely traveled for multiple days with no shower and little sleep. Get some sleep. It’s good for both of you after the anxiety leading up to homecoming, and you will enjoy yourself more when it is time for intimacy if you both have gotten some rest.
It is very common for couples to need to readjust to being sexually intimate after such a long time apart. If you have to, go slow and realize that it may not always be your most memorable experience the first couple of times. Remember, your spouse is home now, so you don’t have to rush.
Let’s face it — reintegration is stressful for every service member. Stress hurts our bodies and can cause a number of different symptoms such as tense muscles, irritability, loss of concentration, cramping, headaches, upset stomach and, of course, loss of libido.
Post-Traumatic Stress can make sex and intimacy even more difficult. Service members and veterans with PTS may have sudden and unpredictable flashbacks and in some cases heightened sexual arousal can trigger flashbacks, especially during the initial adjustment period.
Marriage is less about loving someone for your whole life and more about continuing to learn about your spouse and fall in love with them all over again. We all change over time and the only thing we can do is continue to make the effort to reconnect and renew our bonds to our spouse.
Just remember that for all the visions that we imagine of homecoming, the real magic of homecoming is that you are reunited with your loved one!