I was thinking about happy marriages the other day. For me, 23 years will come this May.
23 years, and before that my wife and I even knew each other for five prior to the auspicious event. And by auspicious event I mean when she conked me on the head and I later woke up with a ring on my finger.
I honestly think her and I were made for each other. Fate brought us together. I could go into the coincidences that occurred to culminate into our first date, but that would be boring. Or at least reminiscent of something broadcast on the Hallmark Channel in the recent past. Suffice it to say it was love maybe not at first sight, but certainly at first date.
And yet the last few years have been a revelation to me of sorts. Even people who are made for each other have to work on the marriage thing. All the time. Day-in-day-out neglect will eat you. I know too many couples who have obviously lost the spark that ignited their relationship.
I remember as a teenager being able to think of little more than her. Just picturing her in my head made me weak, made me miss her, made me want to protect her somehow.
This is what I was thinking about the other day. Did I still think of her in that way? Consistently? If I was to be honest with myself, the answer to that was no.
My wife is far more amazing now than she was when we were in high school. I haven't aged as well, but she seems able to overlook that. Why are my feelings for her, from time to time, not as tender as they used to be?
Strange that the answer that came to me was simple. The last few months we've been so busy - the holidays, my work, her new job, kids, church, you name it.
You always hear the maxim that a couple should go on a date once a week. I'm a slow learner. I've always thought that was a great idea, but really, who has time to go on a date every week? What's the return on that?
It occurred to me that going on a date isn't about separating yourself from all the other things pulling at you so you can focus on each other. I don't think it's about that at all.
It's about focusing on what you have.
A marriage isn't a business. Running a family isn't a business. If it was then it would be perfectly acceptable to point out a flaw or supposed shortcoming and demand the other address it. If it was a business then fault-finding would just be a step in a flow chart that was all about making the machine run better.
Marriage isn't that. It occurred to me that marriage can all be boiled down to one idea - namely, that feeling you had when you first knew that no one in the world was more important than her. Or him. That's what the weekly dates are about. You do that to prove to yourselves over and over that this thing you have going is not a business.
It's late January and so the budget for this month is all about paying off Christmas. We didn't do much, but my wife and I did go out and get some ice cream. Some things are easy to fix.