Josh and I just got back from six days of vacation together, without the kids. We perfected the amazing and lost art of doing nothing. We lolled on the beach with our books, drank fruity drinks and took our time at the breakfast buffet. We sailed, we parasailed, we snorkeled. We actually talked to one another and no one interrupted us. Sometimes, we didn’t talk much and that was good too. We felt happy, relaxed, full, sexy, smart and witty. In a way, we rediscovered our marriage.
When we fell in love and I started thinking romantic thoughts like “This is the person I want to be with for the rest of my life,” I didn’t necessarily know to qualify that statement with, “as long as it’s just us.” That’s because, in those magical sweep-you-off-your-feet moments, minutes and months, I only knew how awesome we were as a couple and I couldn’t really conceive of how that might change when our twosome morphed into a threesome, foursome and then finally a fivesome.
So we got married. That glittering thread of love spinning between us grew, connecting us, wrapping us up with each other. We were tethered together and the line was strong and taut but still soft as silk. We gave each other space and the line let out just enough, but the distance between us was still a manageable hop, skip and a jump into each others arms.
Then, BAM! We had kids and suddenly that line seemed to stretch across miles, canyons, continents. It had to hold, one, then two, now three little beings. Over the years it’s started to sag and fray a little. The two of us work valiantly from opposite ends to keep our precious darlings safe and sound all the while juggling commutes and carpools, work conferences and teacher conferences, school lunches and client dinners. Now and then, in the midst of the insanity, one of us might look out across the distance, over the tumbling toddler, her curls bouncing, the skipping 8-year-old with her neon green retainer, the cartwheeling 11-year-old blinking madly over her new contacts, trying to catch the other’s eye. But it’s tough to connect when often we’re spiraling away in our own little orbits of stress and exhaustion, desperate just to gather ourselves rather than seek out each other.
Those six days reminded me that Josh and I are good together. The thread between us is still there and when it’s just the two of us, we can allow the other to be themselves. That’s both good news and bad. On the one hand, it means that we made the right decision when we married, that we really do love each other at the core, and that’s worth a lot. I fully believe that once the kids are grown and out of the house, we’re gonna have the time of our lives together. On the other hand, the here-and-now side of things, we have three kids to raise and the truth is, we often have a hard time seeing beyond them so we can behold each other.
Here’s what I know: you can’t work on loving someone — either you do or you don’t — but you can work on connecting with the someone you love, no matter how stressful life gets or how many kids you have. I’m going to work more on connecting, despite those darn kids and the lack of a tropical beach setting. Don’t worry, I’ll set reasonable expectations for myself — there’s only so much I can do without sand, sea and sun, abundant cocktails that make me think I should wear a bikini 24/7 and three adorable but needy, loquacious, squabbling offspring.
There’s one last reason why I think we have a good shot at this thing called marriage: Just before Josh proposed to me 14 years ago while on our first beach vacation together, we saw a rainbow and he took it as a divine sign. We saw three rainbows this time. I like to think we saw one for each of our girls. I know it’s kind of cheesy, but if that’s not a sign we’re meant to be, in all of our grace, gusto, bluster and beauty, then I don’t know what is.