As you prepare for your husband’s return home from prison, you are both excited and stressed. So much has changed for you and your family while he has been away. It is hard to imagine your life with him back at home. Your established routine will be changed as your husband brings his perspective into your lives. Things are about to get interesting as you reunite under the same roof. Your emotions are on a rollercoaster, and your kids are anxious, but your husband is the one most affected.
Returning home is scary when the world is ordinary
Coming home in the middle of a pandemic combined with extreme racial tension is terrifying. More than ever, the world your husband left has changed. Absolutely everything is different. We hear over and over again from prisoners who return who home feel as though they are being released into the Zombie Apocalypse in the middle of a war zone. They do not know what to expect or how they should respond to the cultural challenges waiting for them on the other side of the fence. The fear of what awaits them overshadows the freedom on the other side. You have an extraordinary role in helping your man return home.
I am not minimizing your experience.
I need you to understand the significant barriers your husband is facing. He is being released into chaos, wondering if his family needs him, and therefore frightened that he won’t be successful. Although his arrival will be disruptive to your household, you are still in the same environment, knowing your role in your home. You have created a new life for your children and family that he knows mothering about. You have the advantage. If you want this reintegration to be smooth, you must know what to expect when he comes home.
First, his life has been completely disrupted.
Culture shock is REAL. It is a natural response to reentering society. He will experience culture shock. Amidst the chaos, he will join you in adjusting to the changes that are occurring across our country. Recognize the impact of culture shock on him. Adjusting takes time and support. He will need you to help stabilize his world. This is normal, and thus you must prepare yourself to help him.
Next, you can expect him to challenge your way of life.
He will be looking for opportunities to assert his new authority over his life. He might insist on specific times for meals, or take over a closet, or move things around. This is a normal part of adjusting to new surroundings. Remember when you moved into your new home? You rearranged everything – making it your own space. He needs to have the freedom to do this, as well. He cannot feel secure living in “your home.” He also needs the security of living in his own home. Moving things around, having the authority to make decisions, and altering the space to reflect his personality are all part of transforming the house into his home.
Finally, he will need space.
In prison, his time was managed, but he also had time to himself. The pace of life is much slower in prison. Time passes slowly and methodically. Out here, time rushes by in the middle of chaos. Your husband will time to process all of the changes. He will also need some time away from the chaos of a healthy family life. It will quickly become overwhelming to him if he doesn’t have time to rebalance. He is thrust into the middle of the noise, activity, and unspoken rules of your routine. Give him time to process all of the changes by giving him opportunities to be alone.
Prepare yourself for the challenges to come, and thus you can walk through this chapter of your lives together. You will rebuild a new life together, a new normal, and a new culture for your family.
I am rooting for you!