Saturday, February 28, 2009

License to Date... Your Spouse

Last night I drove almost two hours to Toledo to hang out with my husband. At first this felt really silly of me - kind of pre-marital do-anything-to-see-your-boyfriend Sarah - but given that it feels as if we haven't seen each other for more than an hour each day since February 6, I was able to justify asking my mom to come watch the kids overnight so that I could meet Brandon for a late dinner and a night in a Days Inn just outside the beautiful... Toledo, Ohio. We enjoyed an expensive seafood dinner and a glass of wine each at a place that calls its side orders "accompaniments," and then went back to the hotel for the night (juicy details noticeably absent...). This morning, we went to Panera for bagels, like the good ol' days, reading the paper and making random comments, allowing the important conversations to perculate here and there. And then I drove back to Ashland and Brandon drove to Bowling Green for work, beginning Phase II of tag-team parenting.

We knew this was coming - this hectic relay race from the end of January to the end of April between my work and Brandon's baseball coaching and other contractual work and weekend retreats and roadtrips and conferences. I don't have to tell you how busy our lives can get - you experience it in waves as well - time ebbs and flows just like the tide. We schedule nearly every hour of this season on a calendar hanging on the fridge, in Outlook, on our phones - but sometimes, we forget to schedule each other in.

Some couples I know have picked a night during the week that is "sacred;" it is their night to do something together, whether it's dinner or bowling or shooting hoops or playing tennis... anything, just to have some allotted time together, away. I don't know about you, but even if Brandon and I are home together, there are some nights when it might as well just be one of us there separately - we don't talk, we veg out in front of the TV, he does his thing, I do my thing, and then we go to bed. Real inspiring. But if we force ourselves to actually go out, leaving the kids at home with a sitter for a few hours, that's two to three hours of sustained alone time, no distractions of dirty dishes, laundry, TV (for the most part), computer, etc., to keep us from talking.

For those of us who feel like we've gone on so long without engaging our spouses in any sort of conversation about our collective lives that sitting together over dinner for an hour sounds excruciatingly painful, that's probably exactly what we need. Scheduled time together with your husband can remind you why you love the guy, and that will feed into the oh-so-important sex life that has a habit of shriveling up during the busy season, too. Ah, sex. That's a whole other blog.

Why does this matter so much? God is a relational God - he designed us to be in relationship, with him, with others, and if he designed you to be in a marital relationship, then it's worth the investment of time and even money (heaven forbid we have to dish out $20 bucks for a babysitter so we can go out, when we spend that much buying lunch at Quiznos on any given weekday) to make sure our relationship is healthy. In turn, doing the same with God - setting aside time and remembering why you love him so much - works just the same.

Sometimes our marriages (and relationship with God) get pushed to the bottom of the priority list because, we say, the threat to lose it is much less than a job, our sanity, our health... whatever. But if we improve on sustaining our marriages, everything else will improve with it. There's one less stressor. Our marriages are the second-most important relationship on this Earth next to the one we have with Jesus Christ. How much more, then, should we invest in them?

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