Finite is a word that is used often, but I’m not sold that its definition is truly appreciated anymore. I’ll spare everyone the diatribe about corporate America and the struggles we have balancing work and life and I promise to refrain from a self loathing article about how I make mistakes, search for truths and spend time searching for enlightenment. I just jumped out of bed to write this article because as I lay awake (watching the Tigers abandon runners on base) I was thinking about how a simple dinner this evening helped me recognize something critical about my relationship with my wife and I thought sharing would illustrate how it could be relevant to your relationship too.
First, my son is playing football this fall, so Deena and I attended the new parents’ meeting to learn about expectations for the season and to sign up for our “volunteer” hours (selling hotdogs for a couple games) and to learn about the equipment we’ll need to purchase for the upcoming season. It’s only July, so even though the summer break will continue on for another 6 weeks, we know that we’ll be fighting over calendar appointments, determining who needs to go where (with whom) and Deena will re-engage in another year of teaching all too soon.
Before I start depressing everyone (including myself) with banter about how quick the summer is flying by, I wanted to go back to our dinner and how a meal with my wife has adjusted my view on some of my historical “husband-like” behaviors.
After the football meeting we had a drink, put in our dinner order, watched some baseball, sipped margaritas and spent some time talking and laughing. I like to have complicated discussions (they entertain me), but my wife does not, so we found a happy medium and shot the shit about a few other topics.
Toward the end of dinner, marriages became the focal point of the discussion and as some couples probably do…we joked about what it was like dating each other, how we’ve changed over time and how our priorities adjusted post kids and post marriage. Yes, I tend to take these talks to “pig like” husband spaces and insert the snide comments about how often we used to “hang out” (that’s what I’ll call it for my G rated audience) and whenever I bring that subject up she traditionally rebuts (as most spouses probably do) about how life, kids, lists, projects, sleep and a myriad of preoccupations tend to step in the priority lane ahead of “hanging out”. In short, I was told to “shut it” and drink my tequila.
We finished a good meal and a good chat, so we jumped in the car and drove home. Once home, I got the kids showered up and ready for bed, Deena caught up with her parents a bit (they watched the kids for us) and I laid down (expecting to dose off to sleep), but that’s when it hit me. Not sure why, but the thought of how finite our lives are, which includes the time with my wife, continued to bounce through my head. I experienced a unique appreciation for this limited time (more than I ever have in the past) and it continued to run through my mind that I should have more of these “dinners” with my wife and it had been too long since I really appreciated a dinner with Deena (as I wrote last week, it’s easy to take people for granted). Dinner was tremendous because of the simplicity of the time together (we sat close together at a bar, shared good discussion, watched baseball and just enjoyed our company).
This shouldn’t shock anyone, but here it goes…I, like others, can be a whiny and demanding husband at times! And when you layer on my additional desire for philosophical discussions- I get it…it can be exhausting. With that said, here is something ALL wives could pay attention to (exhausting husband or non-exhausting husband). Every husband will have his unique way of communicating his interests for getting close to you. After meeting you for the first time…we chased you, dated you, got engaged and married you, so yes…whether we still act like it or not, we love being around you. I don’t want to speak for all husbands, but I know a few and I promise this…our intentions are generally rooted in a good place, so although some of us might grope (I do that), some might beg for time with you (yep, been there too) and in the absence of “attention” some might pout (okay, I’m three for three), the wives out there should all recognize that we are pretty simple too (we want to spend time with you), but being men…and through the exhaustion of chasing you, we might forget how simple it really can be to connect with you.
Some might question what we actually forget? We might forget what it was like to enjoy sitting next to you somewhere, what it was like to talk to you as our “friend” or what it was like to “date” and force ourselves to be a little more “smooth” than we might be today. How did this happen? It’s simple. We get wrapped up too. Wrapped up in where to go with the kids, who to take to which practice, when to pick up, how to keep working hard and making sure to devote time to you and the kids and all the while, we are still men, so…this is where we revert to groping, begging and pouting, right?
Let’s close this with my raised awareness and revisit the finite nature of our time together. As couples, we only have so many days left together and I hope anyone reading this chooses to respect that concept. Every night you spend apart, every night someone heads off to bed early or the next time dinner consists of herding the kids at your table (so you can force them to consume enough food to stay alive for another day)…step back and readjust your actions and behaviors. If you don’t show that you appreciate your spouse, you’ve burned another day, so I’m going to try and respect this lesson and spend more time with Deena and I’m going to ask that she does the same. Go to dinner with each other, sit next to each other at the dinner table, put the kids to bed 30 minutes early and simply hang out with each other for a change and if that all fails…feel free to resort back to groping, begging and pouting. I’ve said it a bunch tonight, so remember…our lives are finite and we chose to be in these relationships, so let’s work to remember the little ways to stay focused on our time together, not our time apart.