Tuesday, August 7, 2012

And the Two Shall Become One

During our premarital class, Ephesians 5:31 finds its way into the lesson. I don’t give it much thought; it’s standard stuff. Darling Husband and I are Christians and it’s a Christian class, so we’re familiar with the scripture. It’s actually kind of romantic, picturing DH and me holding hands, smiling at each other, connected; feeling the “oneness.”

Little did I know back then how much time and effort that oneness takes. I’m not talking about the “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death do us part;” I get the commitment thing and I’m in for the long haul. I’m talking about the company parties, social gatherings, sporting events, and the way he likes to spend the weekends and vacations. (I touched on this in my post, Vacation: Let’s Relax or Let’s Go!)
I’ll be honest and say that it’s a chore to make sure the children get to where they need to be, rearrange my schedule, and dress for the occasion; however, 99% of the time, I have a good time when we’re out together.

Really. I do.

Okay, so sitting in the cold at a college football game isn’t high on my list; but… if I can socialize while there, I’m good.

During the first year of marriage, when Darling Husband and I were adjusting to being one, I went to various functions after agonizing over what I should wear. I shook hands, smiled, repeated the story of how DH and I met, listened to shop talk and politics, and smiled and shook more hands. I was the new wife in an unfamiliar city, following my husband’s lead to where I lived, went to church, and to meeting new people. He was proud of me and I was proud of him. We were a happy couple, yet, I lacked something.

It would be only a few months until I began the journey out of this gentle wilderness. I met Aqua, who became my first gal pal in my new city; someone who did not know DH and who did not base any of our conversations on him.

Fifteen months after saying I do (or was it I will), the first child was here, and there would be two more in the next four and a half years. I entered the world of play groups and birthday parties where I met more gal pals; while still nurturing my oneness with DH, of course. I hung in there with his social outings as my feet swelled during pregnancies and my breasts swelled during periods of lactation.
But then Child #1 went to kindergarten. Late evening outings and next morning early wake-ups equaled stress. Eventually, DH had to explain to his cronies and business associates that the little woman couldn’t make it because she had to get the kids to bed and ready for school the next day. It’s interesting how the husband seems to be in better standing when his wife is with him for everyone to see. Do people feel the same about a woman needing to bring her husband along?

My friend Aqua told me that she and her husband made a deal; he doesn’t accompany her to her things, and she doesn’t accompany him to his. Both have occupations that require traveling and networking, and when they have down time, they relish it – doing what they want to do, individually or together. By the way, they have no kids.

Can you guess where I’m going with this?

I’ve been studying my girlfriends and their marriages over the years and thinking about my own relationship with DH regarding the oneness that most of us committed to during the marriage vows. Is the oneness composed of two equal parts, or did one part get diluted and the other part get stronger? Do the expectations of one spouse burden the other?
I have a friend who rarely leaves her husband and kids at home for a short girls outing; like, to have coffee. So a trip out of town with the girls is a definite no-no; says it doesn’t interest her.  Her husband doesn’t seem to be interested in hanging out with friends either, soooo… I guess they’re okay.

On the other hand, another gal pal takes a vacation with the girls every year. She prepares the frozen meals to leave behind (with instructions), gets the laundry done, schedules the car pools, etc. and is gone!

Quite a contrast between the two of them. Friend #1 gets an A on the oneness report card.

I’m not as adventurous as Friend #2, but I don’t get an A either.

While my husband and I share certain “likes” and act upon them when we can, we also differ. As my children have grown, and as I have gotten older, realizing that life is short, I’ve chosen to spend my free time being free. (For those of you who are gasping, my freedom does not include any wayward, unwifely activity. Smile No worries: Darling Husband and I will forever be one.)

Many years ago, I heard TV journalist Charlie Gibson answer a question about his wife; “She’s off doing whatever she does.” It was his way of saying that she has a life, too.

I like that.

How much do you do with (or for) your spouse when you really don’t want to? How much does he/she do for you when not especially interested?

17 comments:

Midlife Jobhunter said...

I'd have to say I lead in doing things I don't particularly care to do. Even if we do something I choose, it seems to get twisted to the point of my initial idea changes - I end up on that tiny boat going for adventure when I'd rather read about it in my book, on the beach.

I tend to organize most of our socializing, but it is rare these days that is not an easy event for my husband. He is tired from work so we don't do all we used to. I, do, go off with my girlfriends, though. For weekends, dinners, or just to visit for the evening. They probably know more about me and what is going on in my life than my husband, as bad as that may sound.

Just Two Chicks said...

It's funny you should post this today, as the wife and I were just discussing this. We rarely do anything without the other. The only thing I do alone, is go to the gym... literally "alone." Not with others. There are no "girl" trips, for obvious reasons, we don't do coffee, or anything like that with friends unless the other is there.
We've recently made a new friend who wanted the wife to go to lunch sometime... the wife and I were discussing how to explain to this woman, that this just isn't how we function. I mean, because it's weird... but it works for us.
I have been participating in some things without the wife lately. I've been volunteering with an adult special needs Sunday school class, volunteering with our HOA, and I've signed up to be a volunteer medical director with an animal rescue group. We've also gotten our business off of the ground, and I'll probably do a lot of the visits alone, although we decided a few days ago, that going together would be better in the long run.
I guess socially we are happily tied at the hip ;)
YOU need to go on a girls trip, and make it a cruise!! :)

Simone said...

I enjoy my time with J but there are things that I enjoy that he doesn't and I don't expect him to share it with me. For instance, the library. I can totally get lost at the library. I also enjoy wine tasting and he's not much on even drinking wine. He loves watching football and basketball so that is something that we share together that I know that he enjoys. I like yard sales and I think he's starting to like them a bit too. In other words, we are great together and also when we are apart.

"Auntie" sezzzzzz... said...

I begin by saying that my husband and I have been married for nearly 54 years.

Looking back, I'd say that any 2 people who have been totally together for over half a century, would have become preserved-in-amber like a couple of ancient bugs. If they were always-together.

In other words, good heavens people... Everyone needs time for their own interests, etc.!

Your always-together-couple-friends... Lotsa' luck staying locked-at-the-hip for half a century. -giggles-

But actually, my guess is that every couple does-it their own way. Just in hopes that it is the BEST way, for each/both of them.

Auntie

Linda Hensley said...

I think "Auntie" has the right idea. Since my ex seemed to think that my energy should be all about him, I decided to go it alone instead, so I'm probably not a good one to talk about this subject. All I know for sure is that when one person of the "one" is lost, the couple loses. Good luck keeping your life together!

Betty WSch. said...

You always pick the greatest topics to talk about Anita!
My and hubby have been married 32 years and he is great with "letting" me do my own thing. I have a girls night out now and then and he is ok with that. I even went on a trip alone once, which was fine too. But I realized that I didn't like going without him and would not do that again. I think each couple has to find, what works for them, but we need to give each other some private space!

Hilary said...

I have to agree with Betty... your topics are always tremendously thought=provoking.

There are far too many things that I like to do socially that do not interest Frank.. like ALL of them. We have a deal. I tell him which ones are the biggies. A second cousin twice removed is having a bar mitzvah - nope.. I'll attend alone. My cousin (and good friend)'s daughter is getting married - that's a must-attend for both of us and no, we don't go home early. That even just happened this past weekend and we had a great time together, by the way.

As far as travel goes, I've not done much in my life and he has. He has little interest in traveling anywhere big in the future but has no problem with my traveling with friends, if I want. I'd prefer to see new places with him but would probably have more fun with a like-minded friend so, I'm good with that.

To each their own. Whatever works for a couple should be just fine.

Abby said...

My husb and I share many interests and opinions. That's what makes us so darn compatible. On the other hand, our personalities are very different. Go figure!

He's less sociable than I am, but I think even if that wasn't the case, it's important for a couple to do things apart sometimes. Girls need girlfriends, boys need... uh... buddies.

Strangely, the things I do for him are the social gatherings with his family, mainly because they make HIM so uncomfortable.

Another smashing topic!

Rob-bear said...

This is a wonderful post, Anita. As a pastor, I often wonder if the couples I'm marrying will have as rich a sense of oneness as you and DH have.

Blessings and Bear hugs.

Stephanie said...

I'd like to think I fall somewhere in the middle. My girls are now 10 and 13 and always in the back of my mind is the fact in just a few short years in will be just the two of us again. We try and maintain our own friendships, but it's important to suppport each other and our couplehood too!

Rebecca S. said...

I like that question you pose somewhere in the middle: Is oneness composed from two equal parts, or does one part get diluted in favour of the other...interesting to ponder and I'm sure happens in some marriages. The only thing I am expected to do is to accompany my husband to two staff appreciation events a year. I don't have much in common with the people he works with but I go and try and make conversation. The wine helps. Two years ago I couldn't make it to the Christmas event because my daughter was sick and then the power went out at home. I couldn't understand why my husband made such a big deal of me coming, but then when he explained it (communication is so important!) I got it: he needs me there for moral support, he is proud of me as his wife, and just, well, wants me to be there like all the other wives and girlfriends and husbands of his co-workers.

Honestly, I've always done a lot of my own thing, and he has done his. But as we 'grow up' in our marriage we treasure the outings together more and more. We always have lots to talk about because of the time we spend doing our own things, but also we can be silent together which is great too.

connienaka said...

I want to comment here but my life has been so darn complicated that I'm having trouble. This is my second marriage to a man from a different culture. Both times I moved to a country that was very foreign (obviously) from mine. The first time as well as the second-the first few months, maybe even the first year or so-I clung to him like a burr on a pair of corduroy pants! For obvious reasons I guess...not knowing my way around or the language made it ALMOST necessary. I say *almost* because you can do it alone if you really try. All I can say about the first marriage was-it was abusive and he demanded that I think, live and breathe "him"-or else. After a few "or-elses" I was outta there. My current (and LAST) hubby is really a wonderful, wonderful man but when we first got to Japan it was all about his friends, his family etc. My personality won't let me stay in that position and be satisfied. He loves his golf...something that I'm really not interested in. Well, I shouldn't say not interested in, let's say- I have NO talent for it. I tried and could probably be considered a lethal weapon on a golf course, my balls going so far out of bounds it's dangerous to let me play! I definitely have my own interests as you can see from my blog. Hubby will go with me if I beg...but my interests are really not his cup of tea and besides-I like what Auntie said...we do really need time for our own interests. I think that's what makes a couple...interesting! That's what provides balance and wholeness to our lives. Our kids are grown and living in a different country from us. I sometimes feel like a kid in a candy shop...I can do anything I want to (well..within reason of course)I can grow and explore! Sometimes when I hear young couples talk about only needing each other and NOTHING else in life...I chuckle and say...yeah? Just wait. You need your own time-it's what gives balance to a relationship. Even if that time is spent reading books while he watches TV.

Farila said...

It is nice reading your post again Anita, and what can I say? You just pick a simple topic from our lives and show us how small things matter to make the big difference.

In India, women are expected to change and do a lot for their husbands but times are changing now...

Barb said...

Hi Anita
Perhaps I'm too old and too long married to answer your question (46 years and counting). Our children are grown and we're retired, so we have a great deal more freedom to do things both separately and together. We've always had mutual iinterests but are also individuals who both travel and play without the other occasionally. I cannot imagine being too joined at the hip. I think it all boils down to trust and respect and, of course, love. Actually, several of my friends have marriages like mine - perhaps when you've been married "forever" oneness is beyond the point. I do know that my husband and I are best friends (we started dating in high school). Over time you develop a shared history and there is much comfort in having someone who knows you so well.

SuziCate said...

The hubby and I do most (unrelated work things) things together but it's because we have similar interests and hobbies. There are definitely times we each spend doing our own things as well. I need girl time and he needs guy time...there are things we get from our friends that no matter how close you are to a spouse they just can't provide. Seriously, venting or shopping with the hubby is not the same as with a girlfriend; just like watching a game or race with a pal has to be much better than watching it with me!

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InSeason Mom Cynthia said...

I enjoyed reading the comments almost as much as I enjoyed the post. Congrats to all of your readers who have been married for many, many years! Great topic!