My wife and I had an argument last night. Okay, not an argument per se, more of a very lively and engaged discussion. There were a number of things we hadn't been able to address for a while due to being short on time and long on fatigue, so we finally went ahead and hashed 'em out. When my beautiful wife reads this, she might not be terribly fond of the idea of me airing our dirty laundry, but I'm doing it for a good reason, so I hope she'll forgive me. Okay honey? Thanks. I love you.
Did I mention that she's very, VERY beautiful? And smart? Yep, that's my wife.
And who doesn't have a little dirty laundry? I've never put much stock in the idea that I should put up a facade of perfection. The perfect marriage, family, and friendship do not, in fact, exist. I think that anyone who pretends they have it all figured out is in for a nasty surprise at some point. Why not just be honest? Ain't none of us perfect, so why pretend? It's exhausting.
So we're not perfect, and we had a heated discussion to air some frustrations. It wasn't entirely pleasant, but it was necessary in order to clear some things up and join forces to start coming up with solutions. I also decided that I would really not mind if there were about four more hours in the day; that extra time would have likely allowed us to talk about these things much sooner than we did. I would also be able to blog more often, and spend more time eating Cheetos. As you know, we have three little munchkins that consume most of our non-work time, and that's just the way things work. We love them with all our hearts, and wouldn't trade a moment of it, but it really cuts down on quality time as a couple if you're not careful. Then, frustrations can fester because you're not talking about them, and resentment can set in, and resentment can be deadly.
I'm a guy. I need cave time, as all guys do. At the end of a fifteen-hour day of work and kids, my brain is about to go caveman, and I'm close to the point at which I start grunting unintelligibly. I need some time alone to process the day, and I'm not always good at leaving my cave to connect with my wife. Our conversation last night really got me thinking about priorities, and I decided mine might not be entirely in order. I went to the ever-reliable internet for answers, and it turns out I've got a mild case of something called "priorititis". WebMD says that symptoms may include sleeplessness, irritability, shortness of breath, spontaneous rash, and unintelligible grunting. I think WebMD is mostly full of it, but at least they got the last one right.
Before we had kids, spending time together came easy. We didn't have to spend our attention and energy on nearly as many things and people. I admit that I've had a hard time getting used to the way things are now, but that's no excuse. An extra four hours in the day would likely help a lot, but since the physics involved in moving our planet the correct extra distance from the sun in order to accomplish that would result in roughly seven billion people-shaped icicles and I don't have that kind of power anyway, I guess I'll make do with the time I have.
And I guess that's part of marriage. You adapt to changes in your life and continue to make each other your top relational priority, or you don't. If you don't, you start to resent. You stop talking about anything meaningful. Over time, you turn cold toward each other. I'm willing to do anything to prevent those things from happening, so it's us that will need to change, not our circumstances. Or the earth's orbit.
Over our years together, when out for dinner, we've occasionally seen an elderly couple sitting at a table nearby who, throughout their entire meal, say barely a word to each other. They don't make much eye contact. They don't smile at each other. We always say we don't want to become "that couple", and really, what couple does? But so many couples don't understand in their early years what it takes to avoid it, the sheer amount of effort, work, and time that are necessary. "Happily ever after" falls apart if you don't work at it together after the credits roll on the love story.
Don't get me wrong. "Ever after" can be happy. But it's a long road, and you have to arrive together and still liking each other most of the time for that to happen. You can't grunt your way through it, letting your "priorititis" get increasingly worse. Thankfully, I think I'm on the road to recovery.