date night for smart dummies

marriage has been tough lately. not bad like it was here; just tough.

life is spinning us sideways. while i am at work, jesse has to take care of, feed breakfast to, drop off and pick up the kids from preschool and then put them down for naps. he only gets a few intervening hours to do his own work. when i get home at 3 , i dash right back into mom role, seeing my kids for the first time all day. jesse takes this time to do more work, conduct guitar lessons or schedule supporter meetings. he is still working so hard to build his ministry while at the same time raising the support and partnerships that will allow him to actually do his ministry as a fulltime job.

somehow dinner gets cooked, heated up or gone out for, then its bedtime for the kids which usually has one of us on each kid. when we finally have the house to ourselves, its time to de-clutter, tidy, do some laundry and dishes. (unfortunate grownup lesson i have learned this year: do a little every day rather than 2 weeks worth when it's overflowing). then it's "freetime". i usually tackle some sewing orders and then go for a run. jesse does more work and runs when i get back.

this ships-passing-in-the-night routine has been going on for a good 6 months now. all of a sudden, we've looked up and oh, hi! it's august and we are roomates and co-caregivers, and not so much spouses.

dont get me wrong, we still have tons of fun together and go on dates and have way more good days than bad. but that's more a function of random outside forces: a giftcard and free babysitting, a night off from running and sewing, a stress-free workday, happening upon a saucy scene in my dragon books (bow-chicka-wow-wow, yall. that's all i'm saying). this version of "good marriage" is actually just us sailing along on sunny seas without a lot of effort on our parts. a particleboard dinghy could cross the atlantic in perfect conditions, after all.

but if the weather turns stormy (think: money issues, judah tantrums, stress at work), our little lovers' catamaran ride turns into the black pearl versus the mighty kraken. if a disagreement comes up, we're just too spent from everything else to take the time to care for each others' hearts and we usually just go "eh," and opt for sleep instead. we let the ship sink because it's just easier.

in the past i would have gone balls to the wall on some of these fights. not letting up until the wee hours of morning when we finally threw down our swords in favor of some jesus and really loved each other the right way, but lately we just dont have it in us. at first i was all. "yay! less fighting!" about this period of detente, but lately it's been more, "ruh-roh! red flag that we dont seem to care enough to resolve any of this stuff."

we got really tired of this phase of letting the wind blow our marriage wherever it would. hell no! life doesnt dictate how healthy our marriage is; We do (that's a "We" of 3, yall. and the capitalization aint for me and jesse). regardless of the weather, we want our marriage to be the titanic. ok wait. no. not the titanic. that didn't end well (dammit, rose, move OVER and let him on that piece of wood, woman!). i should say that we want our marriage to be a water-tight nimble little vessel that can navigate the choppiest waters and withstand the stormiest skies. and one that has jesus asleep on a cushion in the front ready to wake up and calm it all with a word.

so we scheduled a "date night" last night. 2 hours to ourselves (praise the lord for the dukes babysitting on such short notice!) for rekindling romance. um, NO! wrong. that may be what i wish would solve all of our problems and give us the energy to fight the good fight--and it is what i always thought the answer was early in marriage: more romantical feelings!--but for us, that is not the answer.

for us, a restorative marriage event doesnt look like it does in the movies: a grand romantic gesture/evening/gift; a separation followed by a serendipitous meeting/sign/song; an epic gunbattle followed by raucous, shrapnel-ed kitchen counter sex (thanks, brangie!). it looks a lot more like this:

two chubby dorks at a suburban chain restaurant whipping out pens and paper, praying like hell, dropping our dinged egos and wounded prides, and finally submitting to each other and the One who authored marriage and authored our entire stories.

ahhhh, it was good. and yes, i am talking about the free crabcakes (coupon!) and the ceasar salad (pile on the anchovies!) and the makeup sex, but i am really talking about setting up a space where we could drop our fists (put down our dukes?) and know that our hearts were safe with each other. where we could say, "this is where i feel like you could really help me," and more importantly, "this is where i think i could help you." where we could stand side-by-side and go, "hey jesus. losers, party of 2 here, we need you to come back out to our place and fix us again. and this time, how 'bout you dont leave? even when we forget to feed you or to even acknowledge that you built this whole house. just stay. move in and get all up in our faces. amd for payment, we'll give you our cruddy hearts and you can clean those all sparkly new. whaddya say? deal?"

it feels so very easy. so, "uh-duh!" in the times like these to just love each other right. why wouldnt we just care for each others' hearts like this all the time? well, life and screaming toddlers and poop-chewing babies get a lot of upfront attention and we take our eye off the ball for a second. and then a second more. and then we forget which ball it was that we were supposed to watching. and then we forget that there ever was a ball.

but i am inspired that 6 months of emotional tartar buildup got washed away after just 2 hours of carbo-loading and love-filled-truth-unloading. that we performed a reverse ball-ectomy (see above paragrah for ball reference) in record time and with no tears or screaming.

jesus has a hilarious sense of humor putting dudes with chicks for life and then saying "make it work!" like tim gunn on runway day, knowing full well that our best effort is akin to a hot glued puppy umbrella halter top. but lucky for us jesus is a big fan of marriage and what he really said was, "here. let me make it work. i'll do the hard part, you just wear the clothes."

and oh, snap, y'all, my butt looks AMAZING clothed in snow-white grace and love. if only tim gunn could be so helpful.


  1. Thanks so much for being real and sharing. I found your blog through Finding My Feet. I have been stalking for a bit. :) I noticed that you wrote that your hubby is busy raising support for his ministry. That is rare these days and my man does the same. I was just curious about the ministry. It is always nice to happen upon someone in the same faith walk so I thought I would say hi.

  2. oh my goodness, girl. i'm so in love with this post and so on board with everything you said. so glad y'all could have that time together. we need the same thing soon...i can't even imagine how it is with two!

  3. After the birth of our son, we were in marriage recon 2008-09. Now that I am pregnant and sick with our 2nd... I am really trying to be better about spending time, quality time with my husband.
    It's so easy to play roomates that have a set of chores to do after work and then collapse into bed, sometimes without a kiss at all during the day.

  4. @enjoyingnow thanks for reading. nobody loves a lurker like me! jesse's ministry is rooted in starting missional communities locally. that is my best stab at a 4 word answer...we could talk for hours about the full vision, of course!

  5. @tiff and emily yes! this letting the marriage maintenance slide thing started right when i got knocked up with #2 and just kept going from there. it feels impossible when youre pregnant and toddlering to have the time and then it feels SELFISH when you actually have 2. but we are learning the hard way that its a must!

  6. Your yearning for a good, solid, vessel makes me think of Davie and Sheldon in A Severe Mercy: they had their Grey Goose and their Shining Barrier and eventually had to hand it all over to Jesus. (By saying all this I am assuming you have read it. If not, please do. Please. Together, preferably.)

  7. Love this and your honesty. We don't have any littles yet, but life can still get busy and overwhelming. And often it's easier to just continue living and being roommates than it is to take the time to be real with each other. We always need to be reminded that we need Jesus to steer our ship. Thanks for letting Him use you to remind us of that today!

  8. Love this post. And completely agree with everything you wrote (not to mention, am loving the WAY you wrote it!).

  9. love this. and the reference to dragon books. that is all.

  10. I know this is a serious post and all, but I just can't stop laughing at dammit rose move over...

  11. Brilliant K8! I might live in Germany but I just watched that Project Runway episode. Justin and I were dying at the reference. Keep up the good fight and your ass always looks good girl!

  12. Great post! I grew up in a home where you didn't talk about your "stuff", but I am so glad to know that not everyone lives that way. It helps us to feel less alone in our struggles and gives us insight in how to handle the tough times. Your observations couldn't be more true about marriage. So easy to become roommates, friends, and physical partners (in the act of doing and not truly connecting) in the busyness of life, but before it all, the kids, the jobs, the running, the household, there was you two. Sometimes we just have to scale back so we can GO back. Figuring out HOW is the hard part. Hang in there. It's a season that will get better if you keep allowing Him to redirect your course. Thanks for sharing.

  13. oh man. i could have written a post exactly like this (except mine wouldn't have been as well written, and also would have had any mention of sex removed, because, well, you know. the dad thing.) we got pregnant w our 2nd when our first was 3 months old and i sunk to the lowest of lows. mostly i took our marriage with me, because in addition to being so mad about our very poor birth control, i was also freaking out all the time about working full time while throwing up 12 times a day and still waking up twice at night. i sort of trampled on my husbands ego because i was constantly whining about why i had to work and he was constantly driving me nuts because of course his defense was to just try not to start conversations that led to my tears, so we literally kissed each other hello, watched tv for 3 hours, kissed each other good night, and went to bed. for MONTHS. we finally went away on a trip a few months ago and were honest with each other.
    thanks for sharing--it is so nice not to be alone in this! and i'm also way thankful for jesus, because otherwise my marriage would be a goner. i am amazed when geoff and i love each other like jesus, how much more i learn about jesus!

  14. Love this post! Thanks Keight. I feel your pain and I swear, you take the words out of mouth when it's post like this. :) I am home with my 2 girls ( 2 years old, almost 9 months old) all day and then work 6pm-midnight during the week while my husband comes home and does dinner and bedtime with them. Sucks a lot...but we are thankful we are able to work hard for our girls. My mom is coming down by us (Kankakee, IL) to watch them tonight so we can have a date night...finally! :)

  15. Reminds me of many days and nights, and no family nearby to make a way...but Jesus always did, and does. Celebrating 38 years on the first. Keep holding on to Jesus gals and guys...He is there all the way. Wish I'd read 'How to Stop the Pain' years ago, and he'd read 'The Gift of Being Yourself'...both helped us know ourselves so we could figure out what grinds our crank.