So I was watching reality television the other day and I realized what most people have already figured out. When couples meet through social experiments, their days are filled with exotic locations, five star accommodations, and romantic moments. Guess what’s always missing from the equation…KIDS! When the couple is making out in the fantasy suite, there is no knock on the door by a feverish child threatening to vomit all over the carpet. The couples are not trying to navigate college tuition, auto insurance for two teenage boy drivers, or figuring out what to make for dinner that looks and tastes like mac-n-cheese, but is healthier.
I listened to a podcast today on how to affair proof your marriage. It may sound funny that a couple in their 40s, with twenty one years of marriage under the belt would even have that on the radar. But friends, this is a real thing! I am married to an incredibly faithful man. I know he loves me, but I can’t just rest on that and quit trying. When I first met my husband in college, I would stalk, uhhh stay aware, of his whereabouts. I could literally sense when he walked into a room. You know that even when I had that messy bun going on, I had spent a good 30 minutes applying make-up that looked like I wasn’t wearing make-up and that messy bun took 15 minutes. Bottom line is, I was ALWAYS trying! We took advantage of every minute to be together, even if it was only a few minutes. We talked about the future dreams and plans. When our plans and dreams started to include each other, we got even more intense with our conversations. We’ve even grossed our kids out with our stories of marathon kissing. So why do affairs happen? I think it gets hard and we quit trying. Of course, I am talking about the average marriage without infidelity, abuse, and trauma. There are many marriage settings that require professional help and I am most definitely not talking about those. Marriages in crisis are different than the ones I’m highlighting today.
Real life is stressful. There will always be something competing for our time, attention, and love. I’m going to be real and talk about my struggle for a minute. I love my kids, like I LOVE THEM! Sometimes their needs are the loudest thing in the room. It is hard for me to switch gears from mom to wife. Sometimes my attention feels pulled between the two. When my husband is looking at me wondering if I’m going to spend time with him, but a little one is asking me to snuggle, I am almost always pulled to snuggle. He probably feels like he isn’t a priority sometimes. My husband and I work in different businesses. We are surrounded by people that affirm us, laugh with us, and build inside jokes with us. It can be tempting to put marriage life and work life on the scales and compare them to each other. I have to always remember that even though we work with amazing people, none of them pay bills with us, worry about our children with us, or grocery shop for us. Marriage weighs more because it requires more of us. I can control what other people see when they look at me, but I can’t hide anything from my husband. He knows me. My coworkers only see the edited version.
So, how do we love each other well and keep our love true to each other when 2/5 of our brood is flat out on the couch with Flu B AND strep simultaneously? I try to remember that college girl and how her pulse started racing every time that boy walked in the room. I look in his eyes when I talk with him, and I try to pick him first sometimes. I have learned what he likes and I play into that. And I never forget the ways he has shown up for me. He has held my hand through the joy and pain. And most importantly, we make physical intimacy a priority. We have a lock on the door and we’re not afraid to use it. 🙂
Marriage is more fragile than most of us realize. We would never start a fire and walk away from it indefinitely. Eventually, without being fanned, the flames WILL die out. The fire won’t make it. And we certainly don’t want someone else adding fuel to our fire. That scenario runs the risk of burning our kids. So let’s all agree to stay next to the fire we started on the day we said, “I DO,” and let’s keep it HOT! Thoughts?