Marriage and Friendship
I am a simple girl. My husband appreciates that I am not a big shopper. I shop when necessary but I do not make shopping a hobby or something to do just to pass time and spend money. I have never been a fan of clothes shopping and my modest relatively plain Jane wardrobe is evidence of that. In the past 25 years of life with my husband we have always enjoyed the simple things in life. When we were dating we spent most of our time enjoying good food, playing pool in his basement, hanging out with friends; simple things. We were married for three years before we ever went to the movies. While the simple way of life is our preference, we have had the occasion to dress up and be a bit more “fancy”. We honeymooned in Jamaica, have attended conferences, reunions, weddings and parties that have required us to get all dolled up and sparkly every once in a while. However, for the most part simple is better; more fitting for our lifestyle.
In preparing for the upcoming busy college football season which requires my husband to work some weekends, he decided to surprise me with a trip to one of the local vineyards and wineries this weekend. As I researched the vineyard and restaurant I realized that this would be one of those more fancy schmancy activities that would require me to wear the pretty shoes and maybe even a little lipstick. I was quite excited for our special date. A friend shared with me that she thinks it’s wonderful that we still date one another after 25 years; it is pretty special. All dressed and ready to go we kissed our sleeping kids on the head, patted the dog and started off on our fancy date.
Entering the visitor’s center of the vineyard we knew we were probably a bit out of touch with the whole wine tasting scene. Thankfully the nice lady who welcomed us explained our options, handed us a wine glass and sent us on our way. Standing in line with wine glass in hand our journey began. Sipping our way through the tasting line listening to the wine connoisseurs tell us about Italian grapes, American grapes, chocolate hues, smooth tastes, aging in barrels and the difference between dessert, chardonnay, and merlots, we swirled, sniffed, sipped, swished, nibbled on crackers and learned a bit about wine making. After having tasted enough we toured the vineyard, enjoyed time on the viewing deck, listened to church bells in the distance and talked before lunch.
Entering the dining room I felt a bit out of place; linen table cloths covered the tables filled with shiny silverware, multiple glasses of various shapes and sizes high backed wooden chairs and waiters wearing white shirts, black pants and bowties. A staunch, gray haired, well-coiffed gentleman escorted us to our table, handed us our menus and bid us a good day. This my friends is where the afternoon got a little comical. With the menu filled with foreign words (Italian I think) and courses listed that contained foods I am not familiar with we giggled trying to figure out what it was we wanted. Items like sushi quality tuna, sweet breads (which I think is cow guts) rabbit, polenta and gazpacho were just a few choices that lead me to uncertainty in what to choose. Finally another well-dressed waiter appeared at our table and offered to assist. Apparently we looked a bit confused and bless his heart he came to the rescue. We both chose the gazpacho with jumbo lump crab as our soup and braised short ribs with polenta and cucumber salad for our entrée. After all you cannot go wrong with soup and beef. Oh boy was I wrong. Did you know that gazpacho is cold soup with little bits of shredded crab and tiny bits of cucumber? As interesting as it was, we wondered if we could ask them to pop it in the microwave for a few seconds to knock the chill off. Another waitress showed up to clear our table, pulled out this fancy crumb catching tool and cleared the table of crumbs while another waiter re-set the table with silverware and filled our water glasses. Finally our meal appeared and thank goodness it looked great and tasted even better. As we attempted to sit properly, elbows off the table, napkin in our laps and not slurp our soup we chatted, giggled and enjoyed our time away as a couple.
Our ride home was filled with everyday chatter, a stop at the grocery store for a few things and home to our big kids who were busy doing their own thing. In just a few days our daughter will be returning to college for her third year; our son started 10th grade this past week. Our kids are pretty self-sufficient, able to take care of themselves and somewhat uninterested in hanging out with us as much; and I am totally okay with that. We’ve endured the little kid years, most of the teenaged years and are now approaching life with grown up kids and an empty nest. Soon it will be back to just the two of us with random visits from our big kids. Our home will be a bit more quiet, less cluttered and once again just ours.
So how do we handle this pending change? We prepared for it; we spent the past twenty years preparing our children to leave home. How does one prepare for such a thing? Simple; you make a conscious effort to nurture your relationship as a couple during your parenting years. We started out as a couple, became parents and will end up a couple again. Having children takes a lot of time and often gets in the way of parents personal relationship with one another. My husband and I have always made sure we take time for one another; even if it is a conversation before we fell off to sleep after a harrowing day of work and parenting small children. Through his years of travel, late night phone calls were essential in keeping us connected. Making time to slip off for lunch or a simple trip to the grocery store has allowed us to stay connected and kept our friendship alive. We are best friends.
Whatever stage you are in with your spouse or life partner, I encourage you to take time to be together, have fun and nurture the friendship of your relationship. As difficult as it is at times to accept our children as grown we must acknowledge that it is a rite of passage for both you and them. It is our job as a parent to raise them up and send them off into the world and maintain our own personal relationships with one another. It is their job to grow up and go off into the world and walk their own life journey. Believe me, they will come back and if you are lucky they will show up with their own family and allow you to enjoy little kid cuddles once again.
I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!