What is one decision that changed your life?
**To respect myself enough to not be controlled by others.
I did that once in high school. It bordered on emotional and verbal abuse… honestly, it jumped the line… I wasn’t allowed to hang out with my female friends. I wasn’t allowed to have male friends. I was isolated, chastised and degraded. I was disrespectfully treated as an object.
When that relationship ended (thank goodness high school doesn’t last forever!) and I rose thru the fog I’d been living in, I remember telling myself I would never date someone who didn’t let me have friends, talk to other people, or live outside his control. My sisters and best friend from high school still can’t say his name without cursing. It’s been almost 20 years.
What I learned from that experience is too much to fit in a blog entry or even a series of entries. I also prefer most of the details to remain anonymous. I don’t need to relive that. My biggest takeaway though is this:
To forgive myself for my choices, I had to forgive too. To move past despising that section of my life, I had to let my hard feelings go.
Nestled between my early morning devotion time and heading out the door for a run, it hit me.
My husband and I haven’t been out (or in) together without kids since March.
I know…. that is shocking!
Almost two months ago, we flew to Key West for a handful of days. I don’t think we’ve been anywhere without the little people we created, even for groceries and a burrito, since mid-March.
Time to get back on the same page…
Today I scheduled a 36hr getaway for us. We are going to see another couple for a Friday evening and Saturday a couple of weeks from now. What? You thought we’d be able to throw together something for this weekend?! That’s just crazy talk….
Honestly though, it is incredibly important to put that extra time into your relationship. It’s been lacking here. We’ve had a rough patch lately where I truly wanted to get in the car and drive away. Solo. Where? Who knows. Maybe just to go sit in a coffee shop or restaurant and read a book while I sip a chai latte (DF of course) or eat chips and salsa? I might even treat myself to a bowl of guacamole.
But I don’t drive away. I told him I wanted to. Yet I haven’t gotten in the car, removed the car seats, and made a break for it.
Why? A couple of reasons:
- I genuinely like my crew of people – most of the time. Experience has taught me that it is highly unlikely that you will enjoy another human 100% of the time. I’m quite sure I would not enjoy my own clone 100% of the time…
- I’m an introvert. Quiet time is necessary to recharge. Daily running and devotions need to become a priority again instead of snoozing the alarm and then needing space from my family later.
- I love my husband. Even when we aren’t clicking and I’m not even sure we are speaking the same vernacular, we still have almost 18 years invested in our relationship. We’ll celebrate the 13yrs married mark this summer. Sometimes I wonder though… when I say something – what is he hearing???
- I love who I am when we are in sync. Disharmonious as we are right now, we will find our rhythm again soon. We are better together. He lightens me. I focus him.
- I’m flat-out terrible at self-care. When I make a cry for help like “Hey honey, I think I’ll just leave. No I don’t know where I’m going to go…” that’s pretty serious stuff. It needs to be addressed together. Instead of further isolating myself, I need to pull closer to that covenant I have with my husband and family.
What it boils down to is that it is time for a date. A real, fix-your-hair, put on a nice dress, lipstick instead of chapstick type of date. No talk of the kids’ baseball schedules, end-of-school year events, or that we are COMPLETELY out of all ingredients necessary to make breakfast. It is time for actual date talk about interests and plans and that amazing song I heard on the radio last week.
It’s time to reconnect and get back in sync.
One of my favorite songs the past few weeks is “The Scientist” by Coldplay. It came out over a decade ago, but recently it caught my ear. It’s easy to sing. I enjoy the minor tones. And I love the message that I take from it:
Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry
You don’t know how lovely you are
I had to find you
Tell you I need you
Tell you I set you apart
Tell me your secrets
And ask me your questions
Oh, let’s go back to the start
I’m not sure if I’m taking the written message the right way, but to me it’s all about making that connection. Making the EFFORT to make that connection
Running in circles
Coming up tails
Heads on a science apart
Nobody said it was easy
It’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be this hard
We’ve been together since 2000. My oh my. That does seem like ages ago.
I was starting my senior year of high school. He was starting his sophomore year of college. Our dates consisted of Messenger chats and him coming back to my high school for my sporting events and a few hours of time together after they were done.
I did go on a date with someone else in college. I wanted to test the waters. See if I wanted to keep doing the long-term thing or date other people. It was a resounding “I don’t want to date anyone else” moment by the end of that night. I knew how good I had it. My husband was and is a keeper.
Fast forward almost 17 years. We’ve been married for 11.5 years. We’ve grown up and learned strengths, weaknesses, and held each other when it hurt. There’ve been fights and frustration. Moments where a drive alone was necessary.
I was just guessing
At numbers and figures
Pulling the puzzles apartQuestions of science
Science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heartTell me you love me
Come back and haunt me
Oh, and I rush to the start
And we keep coming back together to figure it all out.
Dating each other is important. Me giggling on the couch. The way he laughs when something funny catches him off-guard. Real time together. Snippets of time in the kitchen alone without the kids. Flirting. That arm slipping around me while I’m washing the dishes after dinner.
Asking those questions that neither of us really want to, but know we need to. Then working through the answer.
Raising our children together.
Running in circles
Chasing our tails
Coming back as we are
Nobody said it was easy
Oh, it’s such a shame for us to part
Nobody said it was easy
No one ever said it would be so hard
I’m going back to the start
I don’t want this to sound like we are struggling. We are deeply happy. But to stay that way, we have to keep going back to how we connected. To keep that passion and interest in each other- Ask what he’s reading. Give a little pat as I pass by. Keep dating each other.
Keep going back to the start.
Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. After being bombarded online by “Turn Casual into Couple” articles, I think maybe a little re-evaluation is in order.
**I should preface the following read with saying that I fully understand everyone comes from different circumstances. Understandable. This is from my perspective and experiences. I made mistakes in date choices. That one date in college my best friend and roommate-at-the-time will never let me live down? Yes. Did it. What I’m bumbling through is a moment of acceptance. Love yourself first so you can wholly love another. (Not in a narcissistic way.)
WHERE DATING STARTS
My first “boyfriend” was a little boy a year older than me – 2nd grade. We exchanged notes during recess. I broke up with him. He told me when I played soccer he could see under my skirt when I kicked the ball. Yep – that relationship was over. Gross. Even when I think back on that, it really is creepy.
The next “boyfriend” had the audacity to mail me a letter over the summer like a pen pal. Remember pen pals and how fun it was to receive a letter in the mail? Awesome. That relationship was over when he actually CALLED me on the phone. Seriously, in 4th grade (circa 1990ish), who calls someone? O-V-E-R.
By late middle school, I liked this boy and he liked me. I sat at a high school basketball game next to him with my friend pasted to one side of us and his friend pasted to the other. He gave me a candy bar and tried to hold my hand. That relationship was over too.
LIKE – IN LOVE – LOVE
Still without a First Kiss AND feeling perfectly fine with that.
Are you sensing a level of innocence here? I was raised by two loving parents who emphasized a few important things without ever saying a pointed word about it to me. My body was private. Signs of affection were reserved for someone you REALLY care about. And the big one – LIKE, IN LOVE, and LOVE are 3 different things.
Why is this such a difficult concept? It was for me too! Like many other things, I want to place at least part of the blame on celebrities. Whether they are truly party to it or not, the media flashes their revolving trysts all over like it is how a successful relationship should work. They meet, are in love, making babies, and then hate each other all in a matter of months.
I like to call this the celebrity “playing house” problem. I like you therefore I want you around. I want you around and enjoy all the fun we have. I must be in love with you. Let’s move in together! A few days, weeks, months, or even years of life like this — OOPS! My “in-love” status must be wearing off. You annoy me. Must not have really been love. And as a celebrity, it is splashed all over the news. Things are quiet until KAZAM! New relationship. Same pattern.
Love is so much more than playing house and enjoying dinner together. Taking a cue from the Bible, Love is Patient, Kind, Not Proud, Not Boastful. It is about the other person. Everything about the other person. Loving yourself enough to love another is not easy. Love is inspired and inspirational. It is also a give and take. You both must be love as a verb and a noun. It is physical, emotional, and spiritual. Love is hard to define.
OBSERVE & EXPERIENCE – 15 YRS
To keep it simple and sum it up, 15yrs of experiencing and observing as a teen, twenty-something, and teacher in 10 thoughts:
1) The fun of liking or dating a boy is absolutely nowhere as romantic in reality as it is in the movies or books. My spouse is my best friend and I can still say this statement is true. We laugh, argue, make up, and live. There still aren’t the number of flowers or jewelry as the movies suggest.
2) Some boys are like bad peanut M&M’s. Sweet on the outside, but when you get a little deeper, they cause that awful look on your face, in your heart, and sometimes all the way to your soul. Get rid of them. Quickly.
3) Be the stronger person. Be your own advocate. Your significant other should raise you up and enjoy you for you.
4) If your sister or best friend wants to smack him, think twice, three, or four times about that date!
5) Laugh. Then laugh some more. If you aren’t at least giggling, think twice about your choices. Trust me on this one. Dated one that made me cry – a lot. Dated and married one that makes me laugh daily, even after disagreeing.
6) Don’t be in such a hurry to mature. At 31, what I wouldn’t give to go back to silly girl talks and dancing in my friend’s living room to Gwen Stefani.
7) You don’t need to play house to keep the right guy. Respect yourself. Either he will respect you or he won’t. If he doesn’t, he wasn’t the “right guy.” A long-term relationship needs some sort of commitment.
8) Parents. Are you crazy? What are you thinking letting your child watch a movie with a date with the door closed? Guarantee their hands are NOT being kept to themselves.
9) Parents, pt2: Meet the love-interest. Keep an open line of communication with your child. If he/she won’t talk to you about at least some of the relationship *warning sirens.*
10) Put yourself out there. For the first time in my life, I offered a guy my phone number after meeting through mutual friends. I remember thinking, I’ve never done this before. Should I? I ended up marrying him 5 years later.
I’m no expert on love, but I have seen both the highs and lows. I’ve made bad choices. We all have. We must keep on liking, blooming in love, and loving.