As I sit here this afternoon - cramming as much into nap time as possible (two computers going - one work and one home, catching up on emails and all things electronic) I am thinking of my husband. I had a message from him on each computer and had to smile.
As things get super crazy - holiday time or not - it is so easy to get wrapped up in our "to do" lists. Lists of things I have to do for work, for the kids, for the house, for each aspect of my life that goes whizzing by day by day. You know I love crossing things off my list. I relish in that big "X" or dark line that I can strike through each "to do". I think Ben and I both do a good job of keeping "marriage maintenance" on our "to do" list. It is one of those things that can easily fall to the bottom of the list...or can be frustrating - because it can never be crossed off the list... Nevertheless...it is a mandatory item. Sometimes it is automatic and doesn't need any special effort and other times it requires a conscious decision to think about what might make his day better, or how we can navigate through our most recent relationship development.
Our marriage is far from perfect... I wouldn't want it any other way. Certainly, there are things over the years that I would change if I had the chance, but I believe there is learning through imperfection. Learning to forgive, learning to support, and learning to continue to grow in love as our lives evolve and change.
I love being a mother. It makes my days better in more ways that I can explain. I also love being a wife. Someday, these kiddos that occupy my days and nights will grow up. Someday, they will leave this little nest that we provide for them and flourish as young adults out in this big world of ours. Then what? I don't want to wave to my kids as they pull out of the driveway off to college (this hypothetical picture is somewhat unbelievable - as if I wouldn't want to go and see their dorm room and...you know...help them set it up?!? Follow along anyway, it's hypothetical, remember?) and look at the man waving to them next to me, wondering, "What the hell happens next?" I want to ease into that next phase just as we entered every other phase...together.
What can get us there? What can we do now to remain in touch with our relationship? It's been fifteen years since we met. I guess my best answer (at least for today) is to stay in touch. Make the effort. Some days are easy and some are rough as hell. (Today was an easy day - this post is not a post-fight rant, okay?) Take the good to heart and work hard through the tough. For yourself, for your partner, for your children, and for your own hypothetical wave goodbye in however many years...that will be here before we know it.
For us, this "stay in touch" involves emails, texts, and phone calls throughout the day. At least one of them needs to be for no reason, other than to say hi. It make us feel important to each other. There was reason to call other than to take out the trash, pick up the kids, or stop and get milk. We have never actually discussed this, but it is something we just do. Freiedrich Nietzsche said, "It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” I can't agree more. I can honestly say that Ben is my best friend. I tell him things that I would never tell even my closest friend. The bottom line...he is my closest friend. The exact reason why I would call him for no reason...because I want to.
I'm not even going to try and give marriage advice. We are far from perfect, remember? All I will say is take the time to think about your farewell to your children as they leave for college. Are you ready to live alone with your partner? What do you want those years to look like? We plan for our financial futures...it's time to spend just a few minutes planning for our relational futures. OR - just keep having kids - then you can project your empty nest farther into the future. ;)
Oh - and by the way, that tried and true marriage advice that states that you should never go to bed mad? That's total crap. Sometimes you are just too tired to "talk it out" anymore. Go to bed. Talk tomorrow.