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.