This writer has chosen to remain anonymous.

“Sexually frustrated for your freedom”
“Do not disturb, my sailor’s home”

It’s easy to chuckle over these simple joke-phrases, but the reality is that readjusting your sex life after a deployment can be extremely difficult. Many of us have spent hours agonizing over what we’re going to wear to homecoming reunions – both what everyone can see and what’s underneath. There are pages and pages of “homecoming outfit ideas” on Pinterest put together by spouses at home longing for their service member to return. It’s easy to fantasize how beautiful it’s going to be when your service member is finally home and you get to heat up the sheets together again.

Truth is, though…sex after separation doesn’t happen easily. It’s not all fireworks and roses – not always love and romance. It’s easy to really miss that intimacy while your service member is deployed and want everything to just slide back into place when they return, only to be disappointed when it’s not as easy or as magical as it was before they were gone. Sex is just another area that can really cause a rift in a relationship after a deployment, so it’s important of have a bit of a reality check whether you’re currently struggling or anxiously awaiting your service member’s return and hoping to rock each other’s worlds. Here are three tips for wisely handling sex after homecoming.

1. Give yourself (and each other) time

Don’t expect that first night to be immediate chemistry just because you’ve picked the right lingerie to wear under your homecoming outfit. More often than not, your service member is going to be mentally exhausted from the deployment and physically exhausted from the inter-continental travel when they finally return home. Awkward, tired sex might not be the best thing to aid in reintegration. Sometimes, it’s better to wait until the 2nd night to hang the “Do not disturb” sign on your door.

Also, don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having some self-conscious thoughts. It’s easy to worry about whether your service member will still find you attractive after several months apart. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been sleeping together for 10 years or are newlyweds – sex after being apart for a prolonged period of time is likely to produce some self-confidence issues in even the most brazen of individuals. Simply undressing in the same room as your spouse again can be extremely difficult – not to mention taking each other to bed. Don’t beat yourself up over feeling awkward. Understand that (even though you know this person so well) you’ve been living separate lives, so it’s completely normal to have some trepidation at first. Allow your service member the same courtesy and don’t be too pushy or be offended if it doesn’t all go smoothly at first. Give yourself some grace!

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