You just found out that your husband will be home for two weeks during his year-long deployment. You start dreaming of what to wear, planning when to shave your legs, when suddenty you get this phone call:
“So… I was wondering if it would be alright if we came for a visit during R & R…”
*CUE THE HORROR MUSIC*
I’m not going to lie to you… I’ve been here before and have made the mistake of saying “yes”. We’ve even had multiple guests from different parts of our families during R&R. All staying with us in our home for multiple days. Through it all, I’ve realized that loving and honoring my family does not need to mean sacrificing my sanity or the sacred moments I should be cherishing with my husband while he’s home.
I’ve become a little more selfish. I say “no” to guests during R&R, and do my best to lovingly explain why. So, if you’re wondering whether you can come visit us for the few days that my husband is home during his next deployment, the answer is “NO… I love you, but no”. Here’s why…
Hosting Guests is Stressful
We love you. Truly, we do. And, if we invite you to visit us during R&R, we know that you will do everything you can to make it as stress-free as possible. You’ll help with laundry, and do the dishes! You’ll make coffee before we wake up in the morning, and help us finish the 10,000 projects we need to get done while he’s home. We know that you’ll do this. We actually believe that it’s true. But, even for a perfect guest like you (who we love) hosting guests is stressful. Period.
Even if you’ve known me my entire life, even if we’ve lived together before, even if you’ve been my go-to support person during deployment… hosting guests is always stressful in some way. Whether it’s the well-intentioned parent who accidentally breaks your coffee maker while trying to help out, or the sibling who just can’t remember where to find the silverware. We have to be “on and available” if we have guests in our home. The need to be constantly aware of others and how they are existing in our space takes away from our ability to focus on one another. And when your time together is this short you want to savor every minute of it (not spend it worrying about who wants what for breakfast).
Even though you’ve done everything right to make yourself as helpful and laidback as possible, we will BOTH still worry about whether you’re comfortable in our home. It’s not you- it’s us. Really. We just want to be good hosts, and there’s no way for us to turn that switch off- even for you (who we love by the way).
We Both Need Sleep!
Imagine sleeping next to someone every night for most of your adult life. Imagine you’ve developed a whole routine related to sleep. You kiss goodnight, you cuddle… then you get too warm so you un-cuddle… you wake up together and say good morning. Now imagine that entire routine is suddenly ripped away from you. No kiss goodnight, no cuddling, no good morning, and (for my husband) not even the same bed.
You can probably imagine that your sleep schedule would be pretty damaged. For us, this is reality. By the time R&R rolls around, we both have been sleeping poorly for AGES (multiply this by 100 if the family in question has kiddos). We are both tired. And to make things even more fun, my husband has just traveled from an almost-polar-opposite time zone. He doesn’t even know if he’s supposed to be snoring or celebrating.
So, you can understand why we would need the freedom to sleep when we want (and for however long we want) during R&R. If he needs to sleep until 3pm, not only do I want to let him do that, but I also want to lay beside him while he does it. And while I’m completely sure that you won’t be the least bit bothered if we stay in our bedroom all day while you visit, I will be (see point #1 about being good hosts). I’ll feel terrible knowing that you’ve traveled to be with us but are not able to spend time with us.
This means I’ll either ask my husband not to enjoy his much-deserved naps so that we can be together with you, or I’ll skip out on my much-needed cuddle time with him. Either way, we lose sleep or time together- two things that are worth EVERYTHING during R&R!
I Want to Have Sex
Fine. There, I said it. I want to have sex, damnit! Because you’re so close to us, I know this was probably not the first thing on your mind when you thought of R&R- but I promise you that it was the first thing on ours. When you’ve been away from our spouse during deployment you’ve missed out on doing everything together… everything. Including that thing.
There’s no way around saying this, so I’m just going to share: during R&R, if we want to have an intimate moment together at some random time or in some random room of our house we should feel free to do it! I’m sure you’ll appreciate the fact that we definitely will not feel free to do it if we’re hosting guests.
A less extreme form of this is related to PDA. There’s nothing I want more when my husband is home for a few days than to physically feel his presence. I want him to hold my hand, to hug me from behind while I’m cooking. I want him to lean in for a kiss while we’re watching a movie, and hold my hand while we’re driving. If we’re hosting guests we will always be worried about making them uncomfortable. Nobody likes to be around extreme PDA, and we don’t want to subject you to that!!
We love you (not sure if we’ve mentioned that yet…), and because we love you we’d like to protect you from our inability to keep our hands off of one another. You’re welcome.
We Need Time to Talk
In an ideal world I’ve got this whole deployment situation figured out before my husband is home for R&R. In an ideal world our conversations while he’s home all center around how happy we are to see one another or what we want to do for date night. In the real world though, R&R can spark some pretty intense conversations. We’ve argued about nothing, or cried about major problems that couldn’t be fixed because he is leaving again in a few days. Deployment sucks, and it’s likely that we have some unresolved problems that need to be discussed. I know you’ll understand that we really would rather not discuss them while whispering in our bedroom.
We don’t want to make you uncomfortable with our argument- and frankly don’t want to have it in front of you. During R&R the chances that we will have to engage in intense conversation with our spouse are exponentially increased. Whether it’s temporary reintegration problems (whose turn was it to walk the dog?) or lingering issues (why are we still having budgeting problems?!) the stress of our short reunion really can magnify any tiny conflict. We LOVE you… a lot, but your visit makes it challenging for us to openly have difficult conversation and can mean that we put off talking about problems when they arise.
What Can we Do Instead?
I believe we’ve said this a few times, and if you haven’t heard it yet please hear it now: WE LOVE YOU! Tons! And we want nothing more than to visit with you… just not during the only 10 days we’ll see each other this year. We appreciate that you hear us, and want to offer a few alternative ways we can connect while this deployment has been temporarily paused:
Skype Time: We’ve been doing this all year long, so we’re pretty great at it now. Let’s schedule a few times to talk and catch up. He’ll show you the 10,000 selfies he’s taken with his buddies, and I’ll catch you up on the not-so-exciting news about my job.
A Dinner Date: If you don’t mind traveling (or if you’re close by) we would love to find one or two opportunities to see you within a specific time frame! Let’s get lunch or dinner together (just please don’t offer for us to do something else afterward… we will feel obligated to say yes, even if we need to go home and be alone!)
So, again, just in case you’re not 100% sure- we DO love you. We love you so much! And, we love you even more for giving us this moment together. Thank you <3