My husband took me out to dinner Saturday night. Actually, we had a gift card, so our friends paid for the meal. Bonus!
For the first time in months, we sat down across from one another, just the two of us. We enjoyed conversation covering a number of topics. Talk about our daughter stayed at a minimum. We also relished moments of complete, comfortable silence.
A rare, beautiful night.
As I looked over at my husband, a hundred thoughts flooded my mind. Mainly about how life has changed.
When we first met, we both worked full-time in offices. His corporate. Mine collegiate athletics. We dated for all of six months before getting engaged. Our dates consisted of baseball games, movies, eating out, mountain biking and roller blading.
Our conversations centered around friends we had in common. Stories from the workday. Getting to know one another.
More than a decade - several career changes - and a kid later, our world has changed.
I stay at home now. Full-time mom to our daughter. Write a little. Have developed a heart for ministry.
He’s still in a corporate job. Spending hours each week with people I’ve never met.
The rare date night consists of dinner out on occasion. But more often, it means a quiet night at home, sitting on the couch, watching something we want to watch. Bliss.
As I reflected on all this, I realized that with little or no effort, we could easily wake up one day and find ourselves married to a stranger.
Our busy lives can take us far apart from one another. We can get all caught up in life now and forget to love the one we’re traveling with. They change. You do too.
We have to love intentionally.
I’ve heard a phrase lately. It usually references people faced with a serious illness or going through a time of intense loss. On the other side of all the drastic change in their life, they have to find...
A New Normal.
This phrase easily applies to married life too. About every five years or so.
We start out young and in love. All feelings and freedom.
Lord willing, children enter the picture. Actually, they think they are the whole picture. They think the picture exists all because they are in it. We spend our days supporting our family in ways that work best for us. All in the family.
Then, one day, the world that you built around your children, it changes too. Again, Lord willing, they become functioning adults. And you find yourself on your own with your husband. All alone... together.
Different. Always changing.
Sometimes couples don’t survive all this change. Calling yourself a Christian couple won’t keep you from losing touch amidst all the change and activity. I don’t want that for myself or my family.
So, how can we love intentionally? Love each other well in each “new normal.”
I know a couple who travels to Mexcio as a couple every year. They have done so for a long time now. When the kids were little, the grandparents would move in and be mom/dad for a week. As their children got older, they realized their parents took this cool trip without them, and they wanted to go. These parents, wise in their ways, assured the kids that Mom and Dad taking this trip helped the whole family in the long run. And, well, the kids just weren’t invited.
Ryan and I take an annual anniversary trip up north. At this stage in our lives, we try to make it annual. An extra-long weekend doing whatever it is we find to do. What a great way to reconnect! And our daughter, well, she’s not invited.
You don’t have to wait for a trip, though!
Make sure you have a window of time when the kids are asleep and you can snuggle up on the couch and watch TV together.
Turn the TV off every now and then to read something. Share what you’re reading.
Cook dinner together. It gives you a chance to catch up on the day’s activities and also remember how to be partners.
Put the phone/tablet/computer down. Guilty of this around here. Ask one another about your day.
Find things you enjoy doing together. In the beginning, I would mountain bike with Ryan. He enjoyed it and I figured I could somehow learn to do it. For him. Until the time we both watched - as if in slow motion - me tumble down a massive hill, over tree roots, off into a thicket of rocks, branches and leaves. Unharmed physically. Emotionally scarred. We’ve found new hobbies.
I renewed my commitment to keep loving my husband. Who he was back then. Who he is now. Who he’ll be in the future. With the Lord’s help, if we’re intentional about it, we can live happily ever after.