We went to the Adirondacks this weekend—just the two of us.
We knew it would be a good thing to take some concentrated time as a couple, but getting the bases covered was quite the logistical production. By the time we left I was not so much excited as I was just hoping and praying everything went smoothly. That, and trying to squash the guilt that told me I was asking an unreasonable thing of other people, to watch my four kids. I felt like I was burdening others so I could have fun.
And yet things were different between Christian and I on that trip. We didn’t recognize how quickly it had happened, and how complete the direction shift was, until the trip was almost over. We only knew we were looking at each other like lovers, that we were combining the depth of almost twenty years together with the sparkle of romance.
And we had no conflict. I mean, we had a couple moments where we weren’t lined up completely, but those moments, which can frequently escalate, passed without drama.
We were acting differently toward each other, and it wasn’t until close to the end of the weekend that we began to realize that it’s the getting away that made it happen. When you’re at home, you’re surrounded by the faulty dishwasher and the revolving laundry pile, the mess on the table and the schedule book lined with doctor appointments and swim lessons, the “I need a drink” and “will you play a game with me?”
Julianna has taken to asking: “What come next?” I hear that mannerism again and again in my head as my days unfold, with a to-do list that can never be fully cleared–and let’s be frank, I wouldn’t know how to structure my life without it.
Even a date night isn’t the same. It’s good to get away for two or three hours, but the to-do list is still in your sights on a date. Being a plane ride away from home for a long weekend changed all that. We were free to focus just on each other, on what we wanted to do, without carrying the weight of all the rest of it on our shoulders. It underscored how much we enjoy being together—not just our level of commitment and partnership, but enjoyment in each other’s presence.
By Monday morning, I had to admit: I didn’t want to go home.
And yet I felt a tremendous pressure to get back, because I felt I had abdicated my responsibility and burdened others for far too long in order to get away.
We arrived home at midnight. By eight-fifteen a.m. I had snapped at Christian for leaving yet another newspaper lying open on the counter, and by noon Christian was lying on top of Julianna, holding her down so I could apply the dilation eye drops in advance of a visit to the eye doctor, while she screamed, “I don’t LIKE eye drops!”
I guess this is what you call “re-entry.”
It was very good for us to get away from reality, although I will probably never shake the guilt of having burdened other people to make it happen. (Notice I don’t feel guilt about being away from the kids for four days. How weird is that?) We recognize some things now about the way we relate as a couple, things we didn’t realize were specifically connected to the stress of family life. And that recognition, I hope, will help us reshape our reality.