Five Things you must do before he comes home from prison
Your man is coming home, and you are elated. In addition to being excited, you are also nervous and concerned. Truthfully, there is a lot to be worried about. There’s a lot you need to do before he arrives. It would not be wise of you to ignore the concerns you have about his homecoming. Too many couples wait until they are reunited to start planning how to manage their new lives under the same roof. We often say, “proper preparation prevents poor performance.” Now is the best time to address the most significant issues you will face.
"When he comes home, everything will be different."
Before I share what you can do to be ready for him to come home, I want to tell you why it is crucial to prepare. When he comes home, everything will be different. Since he left, you have created a new routine. You have not had anyone else to rely on to help manage bills, schedules, or chores. So, you have your life set up to accommodate what works best for you. You have developed habits that you don’t even realize you have now. While Ron was in prison, I began taking off my shoes when I arrived home. I taught our children to do the same, and they told their friends that we did not wear shoes in the house. It became a habit for everyone. We walked into the entrance, took off our shoes, and then entered the house.
Ron had no idea we had this expectation. When he came home, he walked into the house with his shoes on. The boys immediately informed him of our “no shoes on in the house” rule. I quickly assured him that it was his home, too, so if he wanted to leave his shoes on, he certainly could. He did. And I found out it was not OK.
The first few days, it did not bother me at all.
However, as the weeks went by, I found myself super annoyed that he was wearing his shoes in the house. He got up, got ready for the day, and wore his shoes all day. Even when he did not leave the house, he wore his boots. What nerve! As I type how upset this made me, I realize this was so petty. I knew it then, too. I knew I should not let shoes create tension in our relationship, but it did anyway.
We worked through this and many more lifestyle challenges created by the culture shock of living together again. So much more had changed than I was aware of before he came home. We were different people than we had been before he left. Don’t get me wrong. Having him home was terrific! Our love had matured over the years of his imprisonment, and we were fully committed to our relationship. Otherwise, the reentry turbulence might have taken us out.
"Are you sure you are ready for his homecoming? If not, it is time to get prepared. Here are five things you must do before he comes home."
1. Work on building your relationship. The stronger your relationship, the more likely you will weather the challenges and work out your differences. Start talking about your relationship issues and make a plan together on how you will manage them. Look for resources to help you develop healthy communication—then take the course, read the blog or book, or listen to podcasts.
2. Pay attention to your daily routines. Slow down and think about the things you do each day. Do you hit snooze fifty times before you get up? Do you make coffee in the morning, eat breakfast or pick up something on your trip to work? These are habits you have formed that you don’t even think about but are important to making the transition of living together again smoother.
3. Share your routines with each other. Talk about the things you are doing now, so you are both managing your expectations as you merge your worlds.
4. Make space for him. He will need his own space. This means closet space, space in the bathroom for his toiletries, and space for the things he has collected in prison (books, tablets, pens, awards, etc.); nothing says, “this is your home” more than having your own space for your personal belongings. If you wait until he is home, you are sending the message of “you are an inconvenience, and I am making sacrifices for you to be here.”
5. Decide how you will manage conflict after he comes home. Develop a plan, so you are prepared to navigate through any issues that arise after he comes home. If you do not have a plan, disagreements can quickly become arguments. However, when you both agree on a process to follow together to make decisions and resolve issues, it will empower you to build a robust and thriving relationship as you adjust to your new lives together.
Doing these five things before he comes home will equip you to face all of the other challenges you will encounter. Merging two lives from two different cultures (prison has its own culture!) takes time and commitment. I promise you it is so worth the effort!!
I am rooting for you!