Dr. Romance writes: Reentry is a surprisingly touchy time, perhaps because you’ve both been anticipating it, and have developed unconscious expectations of how it will be. When you miss each other, there are many moments when you think, “I wish my partner were here to see this (to help me, to talk to, to comfort me, or just to keep me company.)” So you come back together, full of love and anticipation, and find yourselves inexplicably bickering. If you excitedly launch into describing the great executive lunch you had, your day at Disneyland with the kids, or your new promotion, your partner can feel slighted and undervalued, or that you had more fun away than you do with him or her. If you instead talk about everything that went wrong, your partner is likely to feel overwhelmed and responsible for your problems. Either of these sequences leads to bickering. To avoid this problem, use the following guidelines for reentry.
Dr. Romance's Guidelines for Re-entry:
1. Prepare in advance by acknowledging that seeing each other after being apart is a tricky time. Accept that it's awkward, and develop a routine to help it go more smoothly. Resist the temptation to impulsively launch into everything you’ve been waiting to talk about, or the latest problem with the kids, or complain about the problems. Instead, begin by saying you missed each other, and how good it is to be together again.
2. Then, together, plan your time for the first few hours or days. Don't plan the other person's time until you talk about it. Each of you has established boundaries as individuals, and you both need to re‑establish your bond. This can easily be done, if you're intentional about it.
Here’s a re‑connecting sequence you can follow:
*Greet each other warmly, and tell your partner you missed him or her. (This is very important – do not skip this step, and do not assume your partner knows.)
*Ask your partner how the time apart was, and listen to the answer. Then take turns. This is not the time to share all the things that happened, but a period of personal sharing about how you feel about being apart, and about whether the time apart went well or badly for you. This step begins the renewal of your bond.
*Only after the personal sharing is done, talk about the things that happened while you were away.
3. Then, ask for help with problems that may need attention.
Following these guidelines will avoid the pitfall of launching right into the exciting events of the trip, or problems at home, only to have your spouse feel hurt and not valued.