Eighteen years ago today, at 2:00 p.m. I stood in the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri surrounded by family and friends and said, “I do” and “I will.” I wish I could remember what I thought marriage would be like on that day. I am sure it was something unrealistic and fairytale-ish like having a never ending desire to be in the presence of your spouse; minimal conflict with your best friend; it would be like a continuous date, and of course daily, wild, passionate sex.
Anyone who has been married knows that none of those things happen even when you are in a healthy, happy marriage. Sometimes space (even if it is just in another room) is needed when words are few, misunderstanding is present and prayer and fasting is necessary. There are seasons in marriage when work, other responsibilities and children can demand that you pull out your calendar to schedule conversations, dates, and sex. Family time when you and your children are unplugged is important. Carving out time for the two of you is essential.
A few months ago our girls were going to a sleep over and my husband and I decided to plan a date night. I was telling a good friend of mine about our plans. She is single now, but has been married before. When she asked me what are we going to do, I said, “Go to dinner and then come home and watch a marathon of Homeland.” She said, “You all have turned into an old married couple! Do something fun and exciting. Put on something sexy and go out dancing!”
I wondered if we had really slipped into a humdrum, mundane routine of marital existence that even our dates were no longer exciting? We were fortunate enough to have had four years alone before children, and we did all kinds of spontaneous things. After children we tried to be intentional about spending time together. But, it was hit or miss. I thought about it, “Well, maybe I can plan something different.” I wasn’t feeling the dancing, but we both do like live music. So, I spent the next two hours looking for restaurants with live music and good food on a Friday night. I found one. It was a downtown Raleigh restaurant with live jazz. I was pleased with myself. I even found a cute outfit to wear. I announced our change of plans to my husband. He said dryly, “Ok. If that’s what you want to do. But, I would rather go to dinner and watch Homeland.”
Seriously? I just spend two hours planning this evening, and all he wanted to do was come home and have a television marathon. But, guess what? So did I. There was something delightful about being able to have an uninterrupted conversation with each other and watch something without having to stop to referee our girls, or have prolonged dialogue about some crises that really isn’t a crisis with Big Blocker and Little Blocker (Those are my husband’s names for them for the obvious reason). We had a delicious dinner and I lasted about 2 ½ episodes of Homeland until I fell asleep.
My girlfriend was right. We have turned into an old married couple. But, it works for us. At the end of the day, it probably doesn’t matter what or where my husband and I do or go, because we can always have a great conversation. We would have enjoyed the jazz music, but being home alone was even better during our season of busyness. Each marriage is different, and each couple has to find what makes theirs tick and stick. Eighteen years ago, I never thought I would have yearned for, been excited about and thoroughly enjoyed a date night of watching television with my husband. I am grateful for the times of spontaneity and excitement. I am also thankful for moments of simple solitude in marriage.