A Large Dose of Hubby-Time
The best learning moments are often born in friction. It’s crazy how, in a span of just ten minutes, my husband and I can go from being content, excited and hopeful, to confused and disappointed, to frustrated, to angry and argumentative, to humbly apologetic, to insight-filled, and back to content, excited and hopeful. In just ten minutes. Literally.
It has taken a lot of years for us to be able to get through all that drama as efficiently and with as little anguish as possible. It didn’t used to be like this. (And, for the record, it certainly isn’t always like this.)
But I’ll just tell you right now: we had several opportunities to both spar and reconcile last weekend.
You see, this past weekend The Hubs and I had the rare chance to escape to the coast for a few nights to go remember who we married. It wasn’t a couples retreat; it wasn’t a family vacation; it wasn’t even an anniversary of any sort. It was just him and I getting away for a couple days to spend some agenda-less, kidless time together.
I realized how desperately necessary it was for us to have this uninterrupted time with each other when, on the way there, I could feel myself trying to fit in a few months worth of talking points within that 90-minute drive. I am so used to never having more than two hours at a time to discuss things (most often it feels like just 10-20 minutes a couple times a week!), that I have grown very adept at being uber-efficient with our conversations. In over a dozen years of parenting and over 14 years of marriage, I’ve gotten very good at prioritizing what must be talked about in that moment versus what “can wait” until the next time we have an opportunity to touch base. It’s a weird mindset, never feeling fully caught up or on the same page as the person you sleep with and raise kids with and have devoted the rest of your living years to.
So, on the car ride out to our destination, after we had already talked about all the calendar- and heart-items I had been anxious to hash out together, and when I realized that we still had forty-eight more hours to hang out with each other, with absolutely nothing on our itinerary, I felt this very odd mixture of excitement, relief, and a sort of… I don’t know… “lostness”? I didn’t quite know how to navigate time with this man without being pulled in different directions at the same time. It was both odd and relieving to know that we didn’t “have to” do anything in particular. The only thing on our To Do List was to just… you know… hang out with each other. We had the freedom to do whatever we felt like doing. With no one else needing anything from us.
It was pretty fantastic.
Honestly, nothing monumental happened over the weekend. We just let ourselves be ourselves and we let each other be each other. We talked about stuff we had put off talking about for awhile and we ate delicious food and drank good wine and we read books and listened to podcasts and bickered about whether we should or shouldn’t drive the scenic route and we wandered into stores and made fun of weird art hanging in shop windows and bought a couple toys to bring back for the kids and ate some more delicious food.
That’s basically it.
Yet it was ridiculously restorative. We realized once again— for I think the actual zillionth time— how different we are from each other and yet how well we work together if we give each other the space to be who God made us each to be. As I hung out with my man, I remembered how funny he is and how smart and humble and self-reflective he is. I remembered how goal-oriented and athletic and talented he is. And what pleasant company he can be.
Likewise, he remembered who I am: he remembered how much I love a good rain walk and how much I enjoy “winging it” and meeting strangers who become fast friends. He remembered how much I long to travel and how important it is for me to learn and to talk about what I’m learning.
And we both remembered how nice it is to nap in the middle of the day and how peaceful it is to just read side by side on the bed with a fire crackling in the hearth while it rains cats and dogs outside.
Oh, and that ten minute timespan I mentioned earlier? That was just one example of one of our little tiffs: that particular disagreement happened on our way to breakfast our first morning there. Just a little squabble resulting from the fact that we had differing expectations for the morning and were frustrated with each other. The truth is: we pretty much never seem to approach our days with the same priorities and hopes and yet we still always manage to get surprised by these differences.
No biggie. But seemed like a biggie in the moment. You know how it goes.
So yes: we argued a bit during our time together. But also? We also each had opportunities to humble ourselves, listen respectfully to what the other person’s heart had to say, and then remember, once again, how it’s okay for us to be different. It’s okay for us to want different things. It’s okay for there to be friction. And it’s okay to each bend a bit to try to meet in the middle.
After all these years, we still choose one another. We still choose love and humility and forgiveness and compassion and grace. We aren’t always great at it, mind you. But deep down I know that true intimacy and camaraderie with each other is the path we are aiming for. Marriage isn’t easy. But we’re in it together and doing our damnedest to make this thing as great as we can. Whether our bonding moments come in big chunks of time alone, or small slivers of one-one-one, or whether they are presented as growth-opportunities in conflict-induced packages, we will do our best (whatever that is!) with the time we’ve got together.
* * *
What about you?
What does conflict look like in your closest relationships? What strategies have you found that help you keep your cool and cultivate healthy communication and intimacy with your loved ones?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.