In 2020, my husband and I have been on a total of four dates. There was my birthday celebration that he so graciously planned, the couple of times we snuck away to have dinner without the kids during quarantine, and the third time, I’m assuming, was our anniversary earlier this year. (I honestly cannot track down any photo evidence to remind me of where we went and what we did, but I’m sure we at least had dinner together.)
We’ve managed to escape a few times, but romance has fallen to the wayside, as it can so easily do. Especially during a pandemic.
This weekend, in honor of his 38th birthday, I am proud to have been somewhat of a romance heroine.
We needed time. We needed space. We needed to be brave. We needed to be selfish, which is the hardest thing for us to do.
I love my husband. We are nearing our 12th year wedding anniversary, although our journey began 20 years ago when he asked me to be his girlfriend.
We finally see what it means to love unconditionally and how fundamental that whole idea is.
We’ve accompanied one another from one career move to the other. Go-getting, from one dream to the next—
We’ve also become so immersed in parenting, household and life demands that days can go by before we realize we’ve just been passing by one another. Literally creating space in the hallway for the other to slide by so that the other can be on time for their next mission.
When pillows start to lose their fluff, they go flat, you know. ‘Same with marriage.
One person’s exhaustion can create competition guidelines for the other— you know, the “who’s more tired competition ” or the “who does more around here contest”. With us, we end up discovering that almost always, it’s a clean tie.
In recent years, I’ve had a couple of epiphanies pertaining to my relationship with my husband.
1. Neither of us deserves one another.
2. The hidden labor is on both sides.
3. Intentionally being nice is a strange feeling. But it’s the awkwardness that must be embraced.
People often say that marriage takes work, and that’s true. I must add that before the work begins, I’m learning, that something radical and self-corrective must occur in one or both. An acknowledgement of some kind.
Maybe you always assume the worst.
Maybe you’re hiding the real you.
Maybe you don’t care for Public Displays of Affection (PDA).
Maybe you don’t listen.
Maybe you secretly envy your spouse.
Maybe, like most human beings, you’re just mean.
Whatever that potentially harmful thing is, radically go against it— make loving kindness the default. Yes, it’ll feel strange, but that feeling— that instant uneasiness you feel when you’re being kind to someone you feel doesn’t deserve your love— is toxicity leaving the body.
Trust me, creating an escape route for toxicity is radical.
And then, the work begins.
The more kindness, patience, and sincerity I show my husband (or anyone for that matter), the more alive I feel.
When’s the last time you fluffed you’re pillow?
Who’s gonna be the hero who saves the day?