When Life Gets in the Way
By Mary Gebara
It’s 6:00 PM and you’ve just walked in the door from one, two or maybe three different extra-curricular activities. Homework needs to get done, dance and sport equipment are thrown all over the entry way and you’re still trying to figure out how to get dinner on the table. In the midst of the daily chaos, your partner comes home from work; he may or may not be on the phone when he arrives, puts his stuff down and comes over to give you the courtesy “I’m home from work” kiss. You may or may not have noticed.
After dinner ends, cleanup, baths and lunches for tomorrow get completed. The house is in a state of hurried commotion and all you’re trying to do it make it until 9 PM, so you can have a glass of wine, alone, in some peace and quiet. The kids are finally in bed, you finish the dishes from dinner, and your spouse is still working on completing his charts from his workday. You’ve made it, the wine is in your glass, and you’re heading upstairs to retreat to your room with Netflix. Some mindless binge watching is all you want to do for the next hour, or at least until you fall asleep.
Your partner walks in, finally done with his own obligations, looking for some “companionship,” and you instantly feel disappointed that your plans are now interrupted. Not that it’s his fault, nor is he in the wrong, but then again, neither are your feelings and your need for some time alone. You spend time together, talk about the day, the latest happenings with the kids, work, etc., almost in a routinely or obligatory way, and then hope you still have enough energy to watch at least a little of the show you’ve been dying to see.
The next day is more of the same, the next week turns into two and suddenly you wonder if life is ever going to change. The routine and monotony of everything are weighing on you. Will you ever feel like yourself again? Will your spouse forget what its like to have a partner who actually has enough energy to be excited to see him? Have you lost touch with each other? What if you can’t find your way back to how things used to be, how you used to be?
That night, you purposely stay awake, waiting for him to come to bed. He sits down, looks at you and you nervously say, “Are you still in love with me?” Almost unsure of what his answer will be, you look up at him and he and says, “Of course I am, how could I not be?” Relieved, you fall into his arms. Your faith in love, life and your family has all been restored in one motion.
The thing is, life gets in the way, a lot. We all have so much to do each and every day, we get caught up in the busy-ness of it all. We find routines and we get stuck in them, we get tired and oftentimes, we end up taking the most important person in our life for granted. Raising a family with someone tends to stomp all over the intimate relationship you once had, and sometimes even causes you to forget there ever was one, or that you need to figure out how to keep it going, or even get it back somehow.
So, in the midst of everyday life, in the sacred hours of peace and quiet that you wait for all day, remember each other, remember that connection needs nurturing, just as much as your children do. His job, your job, the kids and all their activities will still continue, life will still move forward, but your relationship can easily be lost in the shuffle.
Schedule time alone, out of the house, just the two of you. It doesn’t matter where you go, or what you do, as long as you’re alone. If that isn’t possible, have a carpet picnic on the living room floor after the kids have gone to bed, or sit on the porch with a beverage and just talk about whatever comes to mind. Regardless of where you are, these moments will become so valuable to you both. You will surprise yourself by how much you have to tell each other, how nice it is to have a full conversation without being interrupted. Your relationship, your partner, and you, all deserve it!
Here is a fun list of at home date night ideas:
- Have your own beer/wine tasting with fun appetizers.
- Make sushi together – fish optional.
- Roast marshmallows to make s’mores for a late night dessert.
- Do a puzzle together.
- Tell each other stories from your childhood you haven’t shared before.
- Watch the first movie you ever saw together.
- Plan your dream vacation.
- Play video games.
- Make food from a different culture and watch a movie that takes place in that country.
- Play a board game, winner gets a foot massage.
- Ice cream night, buy small containers of different kinds so you can each have a variety.
- Play “would you rather?” come up with crazy questions for each other.
- Throw a blanket and some pillows in the backyard and stargaze.
- Have a blindfolded taste test, include fun and unusual foods that you both secretly arrange ahead of time.
- Watch your wedding video or look at your album while eating something similar to what you had on your wedding day.
And most of all, have fun dating each other again!
Mary Gebara lives in Okemos, Michigan with her husband Rani, a PM&R physician, and their four daughters. She is a child development expert, specializing in early childhood education and classroom inclusion of children with special needs. She loves to travel, spend time at the beach, read and be with her family.