“So, is this phase of life, like, one that you’ll look back on years from now and say, ‘Whoa–our marriage sure was on the rocks then! That was tough!'”
The question came from my little brother, Michael, who has a habit of randomly asking quite deep and often personal questions at the strangest of times.
I looked out the passenger window of his car and thoughtfully said,
“No. Our marriage is great right now; at least I think so. Our life is upheaved, and our future unknown, and our hearts are hurting, but we’re doing it together.”
Fast forward 42 hours.
“How do you think we’re doing?”
That question came from my husband. Sitting across the kitchen table, hands folded, face fairly serious. And I thought, What is with these guys lately? All these questions …
Turns out, according to my husband we weren’t doing so great. Not great at all. I had no idea! I’m just a little clueless sometimes. This conversation happened weeks ago, and I’ve had this blog stirring in my head ever since. I so infrequently take time to write, that I’d just never gotten it down on virtual paper. But let me share some of the things Erik said to me that day that have stuck with me:
- I feel like we’re just partners. Partners in parenting, but that’s about it.
- I get dressed every day for no one but you. (He is currently job searching and pretty much only goes to the gym, maybe Starbucks and home again.)
- Maybe you could get dressed a little more often? And stop wearing those bleach stained baggie sweats?
- I want to date. I want to have that spark that I can only–and DO only–have with you.
- I miss you.
- Please hear me: I’m NOT. But I can more clearly see how a guy might start to chat with other women at the gym, just to connect. I’ve never understood it before, and I’m not saying I am (in fact I keep my ear buds in and my eyes down most of the time) but I can see how, slowly, over time, a guy might end up having an inappropriate relationship, just to have that spark.
You know which statement hit me the hardest?
Yep, you guessed it–the sweatpants one. Probably because it was the easiest to attack and solve. The pants are in the Goodwill box, ready to be dropped off.
Second? The partners in parenting one. Truly, we make a good team. Really, we’re honored to be raising wonderful children. Honestly, when they’re all we focus on and all we talk about, and the only thing we really connect on–that and the state of our unknown future–it’s just a little less than romantic.
Third, the spark stuff. I want to dance in the kitchen.
I want to be dipped and kissed and have our kids make “eewww” faces but secretly soak up every single minute of watching their parents be in love. I want to giggle, and smile, and light up when Erik walks into a room.
But I just … don’t. So I’m working on that. I’m figuring out the dynamics of 8+ years of marriage, a lonely phase of life, my own overly-serious, highly dramatic personality, and Erik’s own traits, quirks and habits to discern why it is we aren’t more silly. More light hearted. More … FUN.
Fourth, well, that comment about being able to more clearly see how someone might possibly end up down the path of an affair. Honestly, it didn’t alarm me at all in the sense that I need to be suspicious or whatever. I trust Erik so much, that even that conversation didn’t cause me to worry. The look in his eyes when he told me, I knew. I knew this was his way of pleading with me. Of helping me understand how vulnerable he was being. Of how dead serious this was. He wasn’t saying, “I’m going to cheat on you.” But he was saying, “I miss you. I need you. I want you.”
And you know what? That was enough to motivate this work-from-home, fairly-lazy-and-inconsistent, doesn’t-like-to-shower-every-day, mother of two, to attempt to get dressed more often. To brush my teeth. To comb my hair. To smile and kiss the hubby when he walks through the door. To see him more.
It’s like a movie or something. I never thought I’d be “that wife.” How funny is that, really? You can know all along that it’s important to try, to keep the romance alive, to date your spouse. But it just creeps. You’re comfortable–of course you are! He knows every single thing about you and loves you anyway! You’re tired. You’re real. So you start to let things slide.
I remember in high school, chatting with a friend, Sarah, and her mom in the kitchen, and Sarah said something to the effect of, “It’ll be great someday when I find ‘the one’ cuz then I won’t have to dress so well, and try to look so nice.” It was an honest comment by a young girl, and I nodded my head. Her mom, however, very wisely said, “Oh my dears, no–that’s not how it works at all. Once you find the one God has for you, that’s when you want to look your best. Be your best. He’ll know you so well, and you’ll love him so much, that you’ll both enjoy the romance of being beautiful together and for each other.”
That has always stuck in my mind. Bleach stained sweatpants and all.
Is it all fixed? No. For one, not that it’s all about what I’m wearing, but I’m sitting on our couch wearing plaid socks, snowflake pants, and a magenta hoody. BUT, the difference is, the conversation was had. Erik had the guts. To look at his wife and say, “I miss you. Here’s some little things you could do that would really mean a lot to me.” And I had the humility to say, “Okay. I can try that.”
The day my husband asked to date, was not 10 years ago. It was a coupla weeks ago, and really, I’m so grateful that he did.