January 22, 2013

15.8 years and we're still learning

Since moving here we've had trouble figuring out how to do date nights. Sure, the kiddo is a factor, but it's also been rough for Jrex to figure out how to relax in the middle of his job pressure. As much as he's thriving and enjoying his job, it also consists of the worst of being an entrepreneur, a CEO, CFO, CTO and non-profit fundraiser.

We tried doing a Sabbath from Friday night to Saturday night. After two weeks, it devolved into just Friday night. Two weeks of that and Jrex (and I) were too brain dead to talk on a Friday. We ended up watching movies, but it didn't solve the issue of when and how to connect. A friend mentioned that she and her husband take a bath together every night: wine, music, touch, conversation. Jrex thought that sounded too contrived (particularly since he's not a bath guy).

We never figured out a solution. Instead I started saving up topics to discuss during our vacation. Driving. Lounging in a cabin with no TV or computer. Hiking. All wonderful times to talk and connect, right?

In the middle of our vacation as we sat looking at the moon rising in the midst of an embarrassment of stars, I brought up Brex and the issue of discipline. What model are we thinking to follow? Time outs only or any spankings? After a pause, Jrex said, "When I'm looking at the sky, it's like I go into right-brained mode and language is hard for me. The same thing happens when I drive." I already knew that he doesn't talk while hiking so all of a sudden it felt like our marriage was utterly empty and without hope for the future. (Why, yes, I have been accused of being melodramatic, why do you ask?) We've learned the hard way that it's better if I pre-process my emotions and then, usually, write out a response and give it to Jrex so he has time to work through the issues without feeling attacked. So, here we are in a 2-room cabin in the wilderness. The baby is in the bedroom, it's freezing cold outside. Where do I go to cry and wrestle?

Long story short, I cried and journaled in the living room, then went outside to throw rocks in the ravine. The next day I brought the iPod and my earphones for the car ride. You don't want to talk. FINE. We talked about logistics. A bit about the scenery.

We clarified things that night. For him, being in nature, or looking at it, is like being in an art gallery. I'd be annoyed if he started talking about calling the plumber while we were looking at Cezanne paintings. Fair enough. The big issue still remained: if we weren't going to do a Sabbath, or Friday nights, or deep talks while driving, WHEN were we going to connect?

We both thought of Mondays. Since it's expensive and a hassle to go out, we decided to do date night in. He picks up take out on the way home then we take the food and some wine and go upstairs to our sitting room. After lighting the candles in the fireplace, we snuggle on the love seat and just talk about whatever.

Thus far we've had two of these, but it feels 'right' for both of us. We're away from the easy temptation to just watch TV, we're away from any clutter in the kitchen or any visual 'to do' items, and it's non-fussy and comfortable. Somehow we're not as brain dead on Mondays, it even extends the weekend emotionally. It's reminded both of us of our dating days. Hanging out with no agenda except each other.

Phew! Yet another hurdle navigated. We keep hoping we're done with the major hurdles, and then we stumble over one and fumble around kicking each other until we figure out a way over without damaging each other or our marriage.

Hard work, yes. Worth it? Definitely.


Jack Towe said...

Wow! That's a great drama. And I was terrified that you wouldn't be able to to devise a happy ending.

Rachel said...

I like your solution, and I'm glad you were able to resolve the issue. It's tough to stay connected with your spouse when there are little people demanding all your time and attention.

We haven't had a date night in a loooong time, but we squeeze in lunch dates when we can. I like your solution.

Inkling said...

OTRgirl, in my melodramatic way that understands your melodramatic way, may I just say that I love having you as a bloggy friend? I was totally there with you all the way through your thought processing going, "Yeah! That's what I do too!" But the resolution you guys came up with is pure genius, and I confess to being a few light years away from that. But there's hope.

Seriously, I love this post for its honesty AND for how it helps me process my own marriage stuff. Thank you. You are indeed a good bloggy friend to have. =)

Mizasiwa said...

Wow - it really feels like ur reading my mind ... Only difference is that maybe L and I are not mature enough yet... We don't know how to BE with each other and it seems like although we need desperately to talk at the moment - we just can't... But ir post gives me hope so Thank You

mommo4.5 said...

I pop in here for a visit every now and then, but have never commented. I just want to say that I totally get the melodrama, at least I always get it when I'm looking back on a moment; when I'm IN the moment it's just raw feeling. We are 37 years into our marriage and still come up against those difficult times when we each have a different idea of how to deal (or not deal) with "issues." Be encouraged - we have found many ways to connect and talk things out over the years. We've had many "happy endings," and look forward to many more. Marriage is not for the faint of heart (I had the thought not long ago that maybe I'm just getting to old for all this!), but it's very much worth it. Our lives are enmeshed for better or for worse (mostly better) because we don't give up.