Thoughts on My 11th Wedding Anniversary
“I won’t get divorced again. If I decide I don’t like you someday I’ll just run you over with the car.”
That’s what I told my now-husband (I think it was our second date) and he agreed. No kidding. It makes our marriage a truly life-long commitment because the only way out is to die, accidentally or on purpose.
Today is my 11-year anniversary, but I’ve got an overnight shift tonight, which means I need to sleep through it. The more I’ve thought about that, the more uncomfortable that makes me.
If our anniversary is not important to us, what are we saying about our relationship? By working on our anniversary I worry that I’m putting my relationship with my husband into last place, behind writing, nursing and being a mom. I did ask him before I took the shift, but I knew he would say it was fine…even though deep down I knew that I wanted him to say that it wasn’t.
We might make fun of people who celebrate every milestone like “3-week anniversary” and “first road trip,” but they are reveling in their relationship. They hold hands all the time and can’t stop smiling at each other. How long does it take for that to wear off? Throw kids and debt and jobs into the equation and it’s easy to get caught up in what has to be done on a daily basis and forget about making choices that make you happy. It’s easy to forget that just one person first filled the other half of your equation and made the two of you a whole.
Traveling the world was my idea, I feel responsible for making it work and I am focusing all my time and attention on it right now. I work on my writing, take pictures, look for stories, watch airfare prices, cruise other people’s blogs for inspiration, work weird hours and make plans while I wait to go… I don’t pay much attention to what’s in front of me anymore. It’s gotten to be a bad habit, one that I’m ashamed of and puzzled by. These things sneak up on you, and once you realize what’s happening it’s been going on so long that you don’t know how you got here, much less how to get back.
Thinking about how to spend our anniversary has made me realize how much Jason and I have grown apart. You hear about people who just drift apart and one day find they have nothing in common anymore…we aren’t there yet, but I see how it could happen. There is just so much going on, pulling us in so many different directions. This is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with-maybe I’d better drop him a line now and then so we can keep in touch.
To re-discover my home and family I’m going to try doing the same thing we’re doing with our crazy travel plans: just jump in, start experimenting and believe we can do it. I do all the research and booking when we travel; now I need to make a plan for this life that I have.
I’m creating a travel itinerary for my own backyard and a to-do list of ways to reconnect with the locals living in my house:
- Unplug and engage. I spend a lot of time on my computer, especially now that I’m working as a writer, tweaking my blog, or managing social media. I don’t like to be interrupted, and when the kids get home and dinner needs to be made most days I just keep on going. I know Jason will pick up the slack, even if it’s not fair.
I need to change my working hours to the time when my family is gone and make being with them a priority when they get home. Sometimes it’s only for a few hours a day, and that’s too little to waste.
- Talk to my husband. Not about travel plans or future dreams, that’s easy. We need to reconnect in the here and now. We talk about work, about the kids, what needs to get done, what we have scheduled (usually kid stuff,) but it’s just marital small talk about what’s going on in our lives. It’s like a business meeting, or sometimes the equivalent of “how ‘bout that weather?”
He’s my travel partner, my parenting partner, but we’ve lost a sense of partnership that involves just the two of us with no outside motivator. It’s going to take some effort to find that again and ignore all the distractions. I can’t imagine anyone else by my side as I travel the world, and if he’s going to go along I can’t just keep him on standby.
- Say yes more often. Somehow I’ve become the no-fun meanie in our house, the “bad guy” who feels the need to lay down the rules and stick to them. It really is no fun-and I miss being fun! I think saying yes more often is the first step back to fun. Yes, we can read that book! Yes, I will push you on the swing! Yes, let’s go for a run! When you stop saying no and making excuses why you can’t do things, you go out and play.
My relationship with my husband could use more “yes,” too. Yes, let’s go out just the two of us. Yes, I will come help you do that household drudgery. Yes, I do feel like going upstairs. Saying yes to each other is more fun, too, and everyone likes a person they can count on and have fun with.
After 11 years you would think we’d have it all figured out, but a relationship needs continual work and never really gets finished unless it ends. Change doesn’t have to be huge and complicated, it can just be a matter of re-prioritizing so you don’t forget what’s most important. For me that’s my travel buddy and partner, my husband, so I’m starting with these 3 simple things.
Oh, and I might have to call in to work today. It’s my anniversary after all.