Some of you may be married less or more time than I, but it's safe to assume that after the bliss of the first few years, that maddening, all-consuming combination of love and youthful lust, fades to the background and life takes over with its routines and mundane commitments. Right? With children in the mix, one or two pets, and full time employment, life really takes a big bite out of the time pie.
Suddenly, there's barely a chance for a peck on the lips on the way to a kid activity. Those long moments of gazing into each other's eyes are replaced with heavy-lidded glances and a murmured good night, grateful to finally call it a day.
I'm the husband that often wonders what happened to the girl that always held my hand, rested her head on my chest, talked to me endlessly. I wonder what happened that I don't even seem to make it to the long list of things she claims must be addressed.
I am ashamed to admit it's taken me quite a while to come to terms with the fact that as life goes on, everything changes.
At this point, some of you may shake your heads and utter a "No, duh!" After all it's just another product of life turning once fiery lovers into the quintessential husband and wife with the American average of two kids and 1.5 pets, locked tight to a routine in the pursuit of a life we still refer to as the American Dream.
So, where is this little diatribe going?
Well, to be fair, us boys develop a hell of a lot slower than girls so this is not surprise to the ladies, and it's as good an excuse as any, at least for me. But it's worth discussing it because out of all the resolutions I tend to make at the end of each year, this time, I'm simply willing to change and with enough work, move up to the same level where my soulmate has been, practically by herself for a long time.
What brought this about? Sheri and our oldest left to visit family in Pennsylvania while our youngest and I stayed behind.
At first I wondered what I would do with all the time I was going to have. I mean, pffft, how hard was this going to be? It's just Amber, our pup Bailey, and (shaking my head) Fifi and Coco, our two intrepid Guinea pigs. I'm off work until the 4th so really, I got this. No problem.
So this is what happened...
I thought my morning would be coffee and a news show, a two to three mile run, some floor exercises, a shower and on with the day.
Wrong. I scrambled to find something Amber would deem worthy of eating for breakfast, coaxed Bailey to go out and eat her breakfast, and make sure the Guineas had water and whatever their necessities were, as Amber taught me. That left me dishes and cups to wash, a kitchen to clean, sweep the rooms to keep Timothy hay from invading other parts of the house, get Amber's clothes from the previous day, make the bed, cajole my kid into taking a shower, dry and untangle her hair, find her something to wear. The morning was gone before I knew it.
In the midst of that whirlwind of activity, as I looked proudly at the spotless kitchen before doing some laundry, I realized that I was only keeping up because I'm off work.
My pretty wife works long days every day and when Saturday finally comes, she's fighting an uphill battle to do all the work I did times 5 days. The weekend slips away from us but thanks to her hard work, we'll have food in the fridge, clean clothes, a clean house with everything in its place. She comes to bed with a grateful smile to hit the pillow and fly into oblivion for a few hours of rest.
There's barely time for a kiss, let alone anything that remotely resembles a date.
No wonder I don't make her list. Superheroes don't always have time for themselves after all.
I had a few days, just me and Amber, Bailey the dog, and the intrepid Guineas, and after working on the house, I didn't even make my own list.
I realized I've been selfish and deluded into believing that I am entitled to spend time with my wife, but with two kids, a dog and the intrepid Guneas, there's just not a lot time to ourselves.
Well, she's been telling me for a long time and I was too man to see it until I experienced it.
That brought up another point in my brain. There are two of us grown ups and we barely keep up with everything. How are single parents doing it?
Single parents, I salute you.
Husbands, we all tend to be that guy, like I've been. Make sure you put a lot of value into your mates' efforts. You may not find your name anywhere on her list of priorities day in and day out, but trust me, her hard work is a benefit not easily attained. Before choosing loneliness that may lead to bitterness and few other bad turns in the road, jump in and be a help, and accept that sometimes love is not a cuddle session or more, but working together to make life better for your kids, your dog, and maybe your intrepid Guineas.
To us men, nothing says I love you like a good, breath-robbing kiss.
To the ladies, few things convey more love and understanding than a simply "How can I help you, honey?" from us.
Don't let it take years to come to this realization. If you're already there, terrific, hats off to you. If you haven't gotten there, I hope you do.
A marriage doesn't last when you expect your mate to be there because they signed on the dotted line. It lasts when they want to be there with you because they're never left alone to do the work life requires of us.
May your new year be one of revelations, health, prosperity, triumph, and above all, love.
Know that it can be expressed in countless forms, and treasure the stolen moments that find just the two of you without the kids, the dog or even a pair of intrepid Guineas.