Growing up, I often heard the expression absence makes the heart grow fonder; it’s an over-used expression, probably coined to soothe a broken heart during a period of separation. I can imagine the story ending with two people running towards each other, while crying tears of joy, and then they lived happily ever after. So in a short summary of this short summary, after spending time apart, you’ll love each other bigger, and then you’ll be happy, The End. If this were the case, we should all be loving our partners more than any previous generation. With a minimum of eight hours away from each other each day, plus the time spent in commute, time to get groceries and tend the chores, not to mention the foreign concept of sleep, it only leaves us a few hours to squeak in some quality time with our significant other, you know, while checking our two-by-four screens, and scrolling through other miscellaneous glowing devices, finding out what Billy, who we knew in public school, ate for breakfast. How much time do we actually spend together?
In our home, we are on the pursuit of a simple, together life, but I’ll be the first one to say that we don’t always know how to put this into play. It’s funny how the side of ourselves we show the world, is often the side we’ve really had to work at. The days of caring for three children, whether it be here at home or there at work, are long, and by the time we scoot each of them off to bed at night, there isn’t much time left for Papa Bear and I. Over the long winter, we found ourselves zoned out in front of a movie (since we don’t have cable or Netflix, in order to avoid the situation we managed to find ourselves in anyways), often pinteresting or time-wasting in some other tech-type way. In the beginning, say January, we enjoyed it, and once February hit, we thought we were enjoying it, but then March came, and slapped us in the face Scarlet O’Hara style. We were all grumpy and disconnected, resentful and lonely, and worst of all, we were all “my job is harder than yours”. Which as any couple knows, is just a bad, bad place to hang out.
So what did we do you ask? The answer, is available in a PG version, so I’ll elaborate. We ran out of “my life is hard because stories” (well…I’m sure I could have come up with more, but I gave up for the sake of my big-girl panties), and we made plans for summer. We also took the chance to sneak away on two back-to-back weekends away from the laundry list of chores at home and spent time together with the kids at Papa Bear’s childhood home. We even snuck away for an evening or two, dressed up, and played the ‘remember when’ game. You know, the one that goes ‘remember when we used to eat burgers and fries in the old Honda sitting in the parking lot instead of inside like normal people, remember when you used to bring me Starbucks in bed when I lived in the city and you used to drive 2 hours each weekend to visit, and do you remember making out in your dad’s reeeaallly small truck. The last one normally has Papa bear following it up with the response “wanna do it again?”. But I digress, and since this is the PG version, the type that his dad might read, I’ll move on. The point of the story, the longer version, is that the ending part isn’t the happy part. It’s the centre, the juicy stuff, the place where things get tricky, we watch too much tv and ignore each other for too long and become too busy fulfilling aspects of ourselves outside of our relationship. We lose sight of why we have taken it all on in the first place, and then, we lose our connection. That’s the case where absence doesn’t always make us fonder of each other. It often just makes us bitter. I desperately don’t want to spend my lifetime living in the vast ocean of bitterness. I really, really, want to live feeling connected. Connected to our earth, to our children, our past, present, and future, and to the person I hope to share it all with.
There are two pieces of relationship advice that I always come back to. It seems fitting to leave them here, should my mind ever need remembering.
The first came from something I once read and have no recollection what,exactly, I was reading, but the article was about how couples who take time to reconnect on a daily basis are more likely to stay together than those who store up their reconnection time and use it to take a trip together whether it be once a year or four times a year. It’s the little things that count, the coffees sipped in each other’s presence, the sharing of the chores, and the planning for the tomorrows that keep people full of hope and togetherness. The second, I once saw on Oprah (I just wrote that here for all to see, yes, I admit, I was victim of the business named Oprah), when Julia Roberts said ” If you want an interesting relationship, stay in one”. That, I don’t think needs an explanation. That, I couldn’t have said better myself. And to my one and only…thank you…