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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do You Say Good Bye?

My husband and I met at the ripe old age of 20.  I wouldn't say it was love at first sight but it didn't take long before I knew this was the man I was going to marry.  Sure enough, at the age of 21 we were engaged, married at 22 and pregnant at 23 with the baby arriving at 24 (24 for me, it was a little before Jeff's 24th birthday.)  As that baby enters high school I have come to realize that Jeff and I don't really know how to be married without being parents.  We've never really been married and not been focused on children, either thinking about being pregnant or actually being pregnant or having kids.  I wouldn't change this for the world.  I love being a mom, it defines who I am in a large part.  I love being a young mom.  I love that I'm not even 40 and my baby is in high school and I'm hip (just ask her -- NOT :-).  I love that I'll most likely be a rather young grandma like my parents were and therefore have the energy to chase those grand babies around.  However, I am smart enough to realize that Jeff and I need to be pro-active or else when Haley leaves in 4 years and Liv starts high school we may find that our relationship as a couple is non existent.  

Recently I shared these concerns with Jeff (I have to point out here that I was a psych major so Jeff loves being analyzed by me :-)  and I told him that we need to work on this.  His response was "Okay, that's a good idea."  I said "We need action items."  He said "What?????"  Okay, so now I am mostly a project manager in my job.  I drive project after project from start to completion.  I assign responsibilities and action items.  Hey, it works!  I like to employ these tactics in my real life too.  So after some discussion we came up with three action items that I  think would be a great and healthy addition to any marriage.

1.  Intentional Good-byes and Good Nights -- It is so easy to just rush out the door without saying good bye to the people you love.  In fact, I am so not a morning person that I often find myself sneaking out the door without engaging anyone in any sort of conversation.  The same goes for Good Night.  I'll be lying upstairs watching tv and Jeff will be down on the couch and I'll decide I'm going to sleep.  So I do.  Our first action item is to never leave or go to bed without acknowledging it.  Make it your intention to say good bye or good night, every time you part and every night.  Make eye contact, maybe a kiss for the road, make a good night phone call when you are on the road.  Its not that hard but I think it makes a huge difference.

2.  Physical Touch Every Day -- each and every day we will have at least one physical touch.  A kiss, a hug, holding hands during Mass or while watching tv, a swat on the behind......whatever it is, touch your spouse every day in a loving manner.  As someone who has been married for 16 years and with my spouse for 18 years I will honestly say it is easy to go days without physically coming into contact with one another.  I gotta admit I love my king sized bed and my space but a little affection is good for the soul and the marriage.

3.  Us Time Every Week -- we pledge to spend 60 minutes a week just the two of us, with no tv, no kids and no friends.  Whether that be a walk, going out for dinner alone or just sitting down with a glass of wine and talking.  We "date" a lot but usually with other people.  And we "talk" a lot but usually about the kids with lots of stuff going on in the background.  This is our time to talk about us, our hopes, our goals, our concerns, our careers....whatever comes to mind....without dinner cooking on the stove and kids asking for homework help.

So that's it.  Those are our 3 action items for the time being.  I know that the reality is that my kids are going to move on and that is a good thing, we wouldn't want it any other way.  I am hopeful that when they do Jeff and I can rejoice in our freedom and ability to really reconnect with each other and not feel like we are starting from scratch with a stranger.  

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