This past weekend Ben and I took a little get away to my parent's lake house. Originally when we planned this weekend we wanted to bring a bunch of our friends down there for an adults only weekend. However, NONE of the folks we invited were able to make the trip. They all had plans already or couldn't find baby sitters for their children. We already had Ben's mom lined up for the weekend, so we decided to go anyway and enjoy some time alone.
Ben and I hadn't had time truly alone in a very very long time. In fact, the last time I remember us taking a trip that was just the two of us and didn't require us to attend a wedding or a ceremony of some sort, was on our honeymoon. WOW! We are very social people and really enjoy spending time with our friends and family, but I never imagined it would take us 7 years to get some quality alone time.
When Ben and I first got engaged we talked about how we wanted our marriage to unfold. Ben had come from a family full of divorces and wanted to make sure that never happened to us. I, on the other hand, come from very different experience. My parents were high school sweethearts and have been married for a VERY VERY long time. I have never really even thought about divorce as something that could happen to me. I have seen my parents fight and argue, but somehow they always made it work.
I'm not judging Ben's family and the choices that were made in their lives. They molded Ben into the wonderful man he is and I am grateful for that. I'm just saying that the difference in our up bringing put us in very different places mentally coming into the marriage. In the end we both wanted the same thing. We wanted to make sure that we maintained our connection to each other. We didn't want to let the things that life might bring our to pull us in different directions and ultimately pull us apart.
I have heard stories about people who had been married for 30 years and all of the sudden they decided to get a divorce. They had raised their families and lived their lives day to day together. However, after the children had grown, they suddenly realized they no longer had anything in common. They didn't know how to talk to each other or love each other anymore. Somehow in all of the hustle and bustle of raising a family and having careers, they lost touch with the founding basis for their family... each other.
It wasn't until this weekend that I realized how easy that can happen. Don't get me wrong, Ben and I are fine and love each other very much. But, once we left Ruby behind and headed off on our own, there was definitely a sense of "what now?". The hour and a half it took us to drive to the lake we chatted about the usual things. Ruby and the funny things she does, Ruby and the things that drive us nuts about being parents, work, issues with our extended family, money, and projects we wanted to do around the house. We arrived, unloaded and relaxed.
The next day, Ben had scheduled a tee time for 9 holes of golf. I find Golf fun for about the first 3 holes and then I get bored and angry when things go sour with my long game. My short game is hopeless, so that doesn't get to me too bad. We were having fun chatting and playing, but there were definitely a few times when the conversation seemed to sputter. I am not use to that. I just figured we were both concentrating and brushed it off.
Later, when we got back to the house we both kind of went our separate ways. I started watching a movie that didn't appeal to Ben. He gave it his best shot, but then decided he would rather go sit outside and throw the ball for the dog. We pretty much remained apart the rest of the day. I started to worry that we were missing out on this quality time together.
Ben moved up to the deck by the house. He was chillin' and listening to some tunes. I decided I needed make the effort to get my butt off the couch and spend sometime doing something he wanted to do. So, we hung out outside and listened to music and talked. We had a great time and even learned some new things about each other. We made fun of each others song selections, we talked about things we wanted to accomplish in our lives, we wondered what our parents were like when they were young and even flirted a little. I wasn't even sure I remembered how to do that!
When we started our trip, I was a bit bummed that we weren't going to have our friends down. Now I see it was all part of God's plan! We needed a wake up call to work on our relationship. We needed some time together to keep us from growing apart like those other couples. We both recognized the importance of the unexpected time alone together. We always knew it was important, we had just let other things get in the way and forgot to put the time away train into motion.
I do feel it is important that we are both able to do things alone too. It is important to maintain your friendships. It is important for me to be able to go out with my girls and for him to go out with the boys. I've seen plenty of relationships that were unhealthy in that way too. It's not healthy to not be able to have time away. I know some people who claim they can get away, but the entire time they are out... they are texting or calling each other. There is never true separation. They never truly have time to think for themselves or be an individual. It all seems so controlling and unnatural. It stunts personal growth and makes one or the other person a doormat eventually.
There has to be a happy medium. Somewhere in between "up each others butt" and "who are you?" is the right place to be, in my opinion. I do feel Ben and I are in the right place, but we realized it's gonna take work to keep us on track. Not hard work, but the make time for each other work. That's work I don't mind.
I realize what a gem of a husband I have. He supports me, but he lets me fight my own battles. He wants me to be me, flaws and all. I don't have to hide any part of my crazy personality to accommodate him, he loves me just as I am. He encourages me to meet new people and try new things. He doesn't look down on my decisions past or present. He loves my family and gets along with everyone. He just fits! I didn't and don't have to convince my family of how wonderful he is, they already think so too! I know he isn't perfect, but he is perfect for me. AND... HE COOKS! Which is awesome because I stink at cooking. I am so lucky.
My hope for you all is that you will dig into your marriage and see where you are. Maybe you need time alone too or perhaps, you need a girls or guys night out. Investigate who you are and who they are. Are you connected in a healthy way? Is there trust and encouragement from both of you? I hope you will find that you all are in the right place for you to grow as individuals and as a couple. If not, start praying, talking, and working.
Maybe you are reading this and you are not married yet, but you are in a relationship. I encourage you to examine your relationship too. If you have to hide things, big or little, chances are... you might not be with the right person. If they make you feel small or stupid, even if they act like they are joking... you might not be in the best relationship for you. If you are constantly having to defend their behavior or your behavior when you are with them to friends or family...that's a red flag. If there is always DRAMA...it's not going to get better with time, it will just multiply!
Choosing to walk away doesn't mean that you don't care or you don't love them, instead it shows maturity and strength. It's may seem easier to deal with what you already know, than to push yourself to be alone and find someone new. Being alone can be scary and lonely if you let it be, but it can also be an opportunity to grow and learn who you are and what you want in life. Most of us have had to go through this, and we made it! Trust me, the things that are hard now, most of the time just get harder when you get married. Think LONG and HARD about how you want your life to be before you make any final decisions. I did and I am sooo glad I did.
I have dated some wonderful people and continue to be friends with many of them. I still love who they are and what they bring to the table as friends. It was hard to walk away from such fun people, but it wasn't working and both of us new it. We may not have wanted to admit that it wasn't working, but it clearly wasn't. In the end, we all have made the right choice for our lives together. That choice was to NOT be together.
It seemed like God was taking way to long to bring Ben my way. But, knowing what I know now... God was just getting us both ready for each other. Ben and I should have met way before we did. We both lived in the same neighborhood and went to the same high school. My brother even gave him a ride to school! I remembered seeing him in school, you don't miss someone 6 foot 9, but I never spoke to him and he never even knew I existed. Seriously, he didn't know my brother had a sister! It wasn't until we had both been through school, several relationships, and some life experiences that the Lord was ready for us to meet. God has a way of working things out if you just listen!
Listening doesn't stop when you find your match. Now, I am listening as the Lord helps Ben and I bring some fresh ideas about how to keep our marriage growing and moving forward. I am excited about our life together and I am really looking forward to our next opportunity for alone time! I don't want another 7 years to pass by before we take time for ourselves. That was not acceptable! We can do better. I know we can!
Good luck to you all. I hope you share your thoughts about where you are in your life! I would love to hear from you!