I remember, several years ago, my wife and I participated in a Marriage Encounter weekend to strengthen our relationship. We had the opportunity to spend the entire weekend digging deep into our personal wants and desires, our personal struggles, and our relationship strengths and weaknesses. It was very helpful and very fulfilling.
For several months after the weekend experience, we would meet with other local couples and talk about whatever successes or obstacles we experienced since the last time we met. I particularly remember a couple talking about their struggle to keep their relationship strong once they became parents – how their roles of father and mother took precedence over their roles of husband and wife. At that time, my wife and I were DINKs (Dual Income No Kids) and, although we felt the weight of this struggle, we couldn’t really relate. That was then…
…this is now. Dinners at the WaWa and Starbucks on the way to and from our training class. Dates in the car when we finally have a moment to talk – as adults – without the interruptions of a curious and lively four year old. The several minutes of muddled conversation at the end of the day when we both feel like we got our butts kicked from the day. Ah, date night.
At times, I judge myself pretty hard knowing there are others who say they have their date nights – how they take the opportunity to solidify that spot on the calendar ensuring they spend peaceful moments together. I tell myself if other couples find the time to do this why can’t we. Are we doing it wrong? Are we spending too much time with our kid? Are we working too hard? Are we being too frugal with our money?
I can come up with a bajillion reasons why we don’t spend time – real time – together. The truth of the matter is that it’s hard. Damn hard. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.
It’s hard to balance work, personal life, parental life, couple life, family life, extended family life, holidays, birthdays… It’s difficult to grab that spot in the calendar before something else takes its place. Hard…and not impossible.
I suddenly remember a word I use often in my posts – balance. I used to believe that I would ‘make time’ for us. That I would put our relationship first; before everything else (it was actually in my wedding vows). I then came to realize, in order to do this, I would need to give things up. There is no ‘making time’. Time is already made. There’s 24 hours in the day. 7 days in the week. And so on. My option is to choose time. To take a moment (or several) and string them together to give my bride the love and focus she needs – that I need – that we need. Gentle kisses on the cheek. A brush of my hand across hers. A back massage (her personal favorite).
Our conscious choice to take these moments, as difficult as it can be, is an investment into our future. They’re an investment into the love that we chose to create together.
Being a dad is one of the most beautiful gifts I have experienced. Being a caring, loving, compassionate and attentive husband is what started it all; and I never want to forget that.
…and the greatest of these is love.