Friday, April 8, 2016

A Couple

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, Craig and I had eight whole ours to ourselves.  No kids, just us.  It was lovely.  It may not have been on a far away beach, or even frolicking in lovely spring weather (grrrr), but it was time together.  For us, extended time like that is rare.  Between the kids, work, and limited babysitting options, it's just not easy.  So yesterday we made the time.  It may have been a day full of hum-drum, normal activities for a couple married people, but it was important, for so many reasons.

We started out our day by getting our taxes done.  Luckily, our accountants are long-time friends so getting our taxes done is considerably less annoying than it would be under normal circumstances.  And it was made even better by news of a nice little refund!  Well, federal was only a buck (!) but state was better!  After that, we went out to lunch.  We went to a regular sit-down place we haven't been to in ages because of Jacob's diet.  Normally when we go out, we have to eat somewhere that can accommodate Jacob and is relatively speedy so we can get in and out before the kids melt down.  Today we picked what we wanted and it was nice to just eat and talk.  No refereeing, no convincing someone to sit down and finish eating, no rushing.  It was refreshing.

After lunch we did our long-awaited elliptical shopping.  We're convinced we need a convenient home-based option to get in shape, and that machine is our choice.  We found one we liked, but we still have a little research to do.  The one we really want is out of stock.  There's another option that's slightly more, so I'm just trying to find the most economical way to buy it.  But at least we found one.  It's not the one that lets you run through Hawaii on a screen, but it'll do ;-)

After shopping, we went to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.  We saw the original the night we got engaged, so it's always been near and dear to our hearts.  When I heard there was a sequel coming, I was counting down the months!  I decided that since it's normally tough to get out and see a movie without the kids, perhaps it would be best to integrate it into our date day.  It turns out that it was quite appropriate, actually.

To back up for a minute...the other day I came across a blog post that really hit home.  In fact, I may have teared up a bit as I got to the end.  You can read it here, but it's called "A Letter to My Husband in this Weird Phase of Marriage: Let's See it Through".  It's a letter from a wife to a husband that is basically about the same phase we're in, one where we're too tired to communicate properly by the end of of the day, where we're touched out and talked out and retreat to our chairs and electronic devices once the kids are in bed.  She assures him that while it's not ideal, her love has never wavered.  Ultimately, once the kids stop overwhelming every aspect of home life, she still wants him to be the one to walk through life with her.  I definitely feel like that's us a lot of days.  The long-term risk, of course, is that you lose sight of that eternal connection and forget why you got together in the first place.  Then, by the time your kids are older, you have nothing in common and no reason to hang out with this person.  We definitely don't want to end up there, so I think it's important to keep that cautionary tale in mind and do what we can along the way to prevent getting to that point.  In the meantime, it's good to acknowledge that any silence or apparent disconnect is not a reflection of your love for your partner.  It's important to know that the love is still there, to have an understanding that this season of marriage is temporary, and to both be on board with seeing it through.  It's not always easy because you can long for more of a connection or feel like you're not being "seen".  For a while I think I was pretty panicked about us being this way, but I've come to realize it's pretty normal and we just need to make an effort to focus on us whenever the chance arises.  The little moments help.  It may not be every day, but we need to make the effort whenever time or energy allows.

So how does this relate back to our date day and the movie?  Well, obviously the date day was an effort to reconnect and clear some "housekeeping" items off our to do list, which can only make us happier as a couple.  Even the movie choice itself was emblematic of trying to get back to our romantic roots.  But it turned out that the movie was more relevant than we thought.  It picks up with Toula and Ian (the couple married in the wedding referenced by the first movie's title, in case you've never seen it...and if that's the case, SEE IT!) as parents of a senior in high school.  Believe it or not, that's actually an accurate time progression from where the original movie left off, with their little girl going off to school.  Time flies!  And for the first bit of the movie, it becomes apparent that Toula and Ian may have gotten a little too comfortable in their marriage.  Toula's looking a bit like her old self from the beginning of the first movie (plain and a bit haggard, if we're being honest), and while there isn't exactly visible unhappiness in their marriage, it's clear some of the passion has faded and their daughter has become the main focus.  But thankfully, as the movie goes on you see them making an effort to find themselves again, in particular when they realize their daughter going off to college could leave a void they're not prepared for.  I really appreciated all of the little moments where they were able to reconnect, and appreciated even more that they showed it wasn't always a smooth process.  I think it's just a good reminder that every marriage goes through phases, and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.  Change doesn't have to break you as long as you both stay on the same page.  Which all gets back to that blog post...that if you both understand that the lull is purely a survival technique and not some fatal flaw in your relationship, you should be fine.  It's when one person gets the idea that the other is no longer committed that the problems crop up. 

There was a quote in the movie that I need to keep in the back of my mind.  It was something to the effect of: "Before you were a mother, you were a girlfriend."  When I think about how I've changed in the last eight years--physical changes, emotional growth, priority shifts--I barely recognize myself.  While I certainly hope that Craig will love me through it all regardless, I need to remember that the "girlfriend" is still buried deep inside me somewhere and it's not a bad idea to look for her once in a while.  Craig deserves some glimpses of the less stressed, more carefree me that he married.  Again, it won't be every day, but when I can summon the energy to try, I think it's worth it.

Yesterday was great.  The movie, the lunch, the shopping, the time together...all of it was wonderful.  Nothing life-altering, but a nice change of pace and a nice reminder of why we need to do things like that.  We love our kids so much and they are central to our entire world, but it never hurts to remember where we started.  All of that inspired us to go on the journey we're living today, so a little taste of the past can only make us appreciate our present even more.

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