It was one of those dreamy, romantic, revelatory kisses that squeezes your chest and leaves you breathless. It was amazing…and then horrifying. How could I face the man to whom I had promised forever? Did I really have to tell him? After all, there was no way I would never allow myself to be alone with this person again. Maybe I just had to swallow my guilty conscience and be a better wife.
I woke up lying beside my husband in the Hampton Inn, in a king-sized bed cramped by the presence of a thirty-pound pixie who somehow manages to take three times as much space as her size justifies, my brain roiling with worry about the upcoming confession. And then, with one of those beautiful rushes of relief, I realized it was a dream. I hadn’t actually cheated on my husband.
I rolled over and pressed up against him, wrapped an arm around his chest, and my hand landed on my daughter’s long, soft hair and angelic skin. My heart relaxed inside me. But as I lay there, snuggling two of the five most important people in the world to me, I couldn’t help thinking how easy it has become to neglect the romantic moments that make our hearts stop when we see them on the silver screen.
Just last week I was chuckling at a friend’s reminisces about a fight she and her husband had shortly after they were married. I can remember some real doozies in our first year or two, too. It’s not so much about getting adjusted to each other as it is getting accustomed to acting like a grownup 24-7. There’s no room for toddler temper tantrums in a marriage, you know. All I could think was how glad I was to be done with that phase of life. (Perhaps it’s obvious, but just in case: I’m talking about my temper tantrums, not my husband’s.)
And yet…as tantrums give way, so does the starry-eyed romantic stage. When was the last time you and your spouse shared one of those heart-pounding, breath-stealing kisses that turn women to jelly-legged mush when we see one in a movie theater?
When Christian and I went on our Engaged Encounter weekend, it seemed the question on everyone’s mind was, “How do you keep the romance alive?” We looked at each other and rolled our eyes. It seemed like an infantile concern.
But twelve years into marriage (sixteen years altogether), I do miss those kisses that felt like the first time. I love walking hand in hand with my little ones—but there’s just something about the firm grip of the man I love that can’t be replaced. I love family dinners, with kids giggling and doing silly cute things, but in those B.C. (before children) years, we were a little too cavalier about tossing junk on the table and not bothering to make it a nice, romantic dinner. I miss what we didn’t really have.
And I think it’s the couples who manage to keep some sense of starry-eyed newlywedded bliss in their marriages who turn into those elderly couples that we love to see sitting on the front porch together in rocking chairs.
So I know I speak for all us young’uns when I ask for the wisdom of years. For those of us in the trenches of raising small children, who frequently get through the day on glazed-eyed necessity after not enough sleep, who by necessity spend a lot of our “couple” time dealing with the business of parenthood: how do we make sure when we shoot out the far side of this high-maintenance couple of decades, that we are able to take advantage of our newfound freedom to be close?