Saturday, September 19

Our Marriage... 5 Words

My wife will tell most people that we've "... been married 21 years, but together 24 years." Those three years are important to her. Most women understand the nuance those three years connotes. Most men take the comment as it is stated... we dated for three years before we married, so what. I assume every marriage has watershed moments. One of ours occurred with FIVE words.

We have three kids. Our morning routine, at this time, begins five minutes after the last one is put on the bus with my wife's "I-love-you-have-a-great-day." That morning starts like any other morning.

We lay on the couch to watch whatever TV series "we are on". I'm not a big TV person, so she picks what we watch. We talk. Kids. Friends. God. Money. Bible study/small group. She might ask, "What did you and your mom talk about last night?" Some discussions actually stop the binge watching and it is those talks that always seem to eventually focus on us, our relationship, our marriage, etc.

This specific morning is great. We're on the couch. After we transition into our day, I'm sitting in the living room working on the laptop. She's back and forth doing things. Then, out of the blue, she plops down on the end of the couch that shares the end table with the chair I'm in.

She lightly taps my foot with with her foot. "I need you to close that for a minute." Laptop closes. I notice she's wringing a balled up dish towel in her hands. "I need to tell you something."

I say, "I can tell."

She comes right out and says, "I need you to pay attention to me."

What I hear is, despite the time we spent together, she's requesting big gigantic blocks of time. That's how men think, or maybe it's just me. I need to fix the car. Big block of time. Watch a game. Big block of time. Cut the grass, chop firewood, cook, teach our kids how to drive... all require big blocks of time.

I reply, "I do," and immediately my mind starts compiling a list of things, tangible objective evidence, to show the ways I dote on her every day, especially this morning. Snuggling on the couch. Watching TV. Fixing breakfast. Putting the kids on the bus in bad weather. And, like now, when she wants my attention, I give it to her.

She says, "I know. I need more."
My Rolodex... POOF. Gone.
My defense team... dismissed.

 Those big blocks of time I thought she wanted, I could not have been more wrong. Concisely put - she needs small gestures, throughout the day, that show her... I GET HER. I SEE HER. I had been doing that. She simply needed more.

Now, I kiss her when I pass by her sitting on the couch on my way to the kitchen. It's not a bland beige kiss. We always make eye contact. I usually put my hand behind her head. It quick, 3-4-5 seconds. I tell her "I like her" (because many married couples don't necessarily like hanging out with each other) and how pretty she is and how she is "my type."

Just like "... been married 21 years, but together 24 years" are important to her, the fact I don't just walk by and ignore her is more important. That changed our marriage... profoundly so.

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