So, you’ve been waiting either days, weeks, or months for your partner in crime to finally come back from road life and spend a bit of time at home. You’ve dreamt of romantic picnics by a lake, riding horses through fields in slow motion, and sounds of “I love you more” and “no, I love you more” ringing through the halls….but…that’s not always quite what happens, is it? I think with most touring families there’s some sort of mathematical equation that says the longer he’s been away, the longer it takes to get your “couple’s rhythm” back after the tour is over. I mean, practically speaking, you’ve been basically living a single person’s life that whole time (meals for one, laundry for one, doing whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it) so it can be quite an adjustment to suddenly have to think of another person being in the house again. Oh, you didn’t want to spend the whole Saturday at flea markets and the mall? What’s this about a new pinball arcade that just opened up downtown?? Competing interests aside, just the act of doing daily tasks can become a war zone now that you have a buddy who you would like to help with the chores while they’re around. Not that being on the road isn’t a lot of work on that end buuuuuut when they haven’t taken out a trash or cleaned a toilet in 3 months, well, it can be easy to forget that someone’s been doing all of that back home (and a million more things) during that time and some chore relief would be well appreciated.
Anyways, this summer we spent most of Todd’s 3 month tour apart so when he did come home I found myself surprised that we were spending so much time fighting over the dishes and much less time frolicking through fields. I mean, I’d been waiting for FOR-EV-ER for him to finally get back and now this is what we are spending our limited time on?? We were both just plain annoying each other over really stupid issues. I was feeling a bit low about it until Todd reminded me that it was really ok, we were just readjusting to being together again. And you know what? He was right. Everything was ok. We were ok. I just got my gears a bit stuck in “single mode” and, due to the longer time apart, it was taking a little longer than usual to spring back into “couple’s mode” again. It only took another week after that realization for things to start to feel like they were back in the groove again, but here are a few thoughts that usually make the adjustment back to a full house a bit smoother:
-Keep your cool: When you feel your anger boiling over because you’ve asked for the trash to be taken out 3 times now but he can’t seem to tear himself away from a video game—take a breath and slow down. Having a calm yet grown-up discussion about the division of chores in the house (or whatever the issue is) will always go better when it’s not a screaming match.
-Remember how you communicate best: Having known Todd for 14 years now, I basically know exactly what I can say that will end a fight or fuel it further. Remember how you communicate best with your other half and choose to diffuse an argument rather than stubbornly let it build bigger and bigger.
-Try not to let “you didn’t finish the dishes” mean “I hate that you’re never home”: Listen, in this line of work, we all have days where we get upset because we are away from the one we love the most. Try not to let those feelings turn into a fight about something totally unrelated when that loved one is home. The dishes argument will never get resolved if it’s not actually about the dishes to begin with. Communicate about what you are actually feeling and try not to say one thing when you really want to say something else.
-Give Yourself A Grace Period: Depending on how long the break is between the end of this tour and the start of the next, you may not have a lot of time to wait out rough parts in an adjustment period. However, if you do have the luxury of some time together, don’t be too worried if you aren’t perfectly in sync on day one. If you both are working hard to treat your other half with patience, kindness, and just plain gratitude to be together, then the bumps should eventually subside as you find your rhythm and routine again.
-When Time Is Short, Switch To Vacation Mode: For short visits home between shows, it can be better to treat those few days like a vacation rather than try to get back to real life. Catching up is the main priority on those short trips so discuss any big things that really can’t wait but try to focus more on reconnecting than cleaning the gutters.
Overall, I know it can be hard to readjust and share your schedule again, but remember—this is also the person you’ve been missing and dreaming of while they’ve been away so don’t let petty arguments and annoying habits ruin the time you do have. Go on those picnics! Ride those horses! You both love the other person more! Remember all the reasons you love each other to begin with and let the dishes rot if you have to, I promise they aren’t the most important thing you have in front of you…