He pulled me into the closet and closed the door. I could hear kids calling. We ignored them.
He whispered, "I miss Hawaii. I miss you."
We promised each other last summer, loving and living a carefree togetherness we hardly recognized, that we wouldn't slip back into the hurried routine and forget each other. My husband won a free trip with his job and this break in paradise was one of the first times in our nearly 19-year-old marriage that we had taken a trip without our kids.
But it's easy to make promises when this is your view:
And it's easy to forget them when this is your view:
Promises are much harder to keep in the making-breakfast-doing-laundry-paying bills-and-work-filled days. I believe it's called monotony. And it can kill your marriage.
Nearly two decades later, we are still each other's favorite person. Most days. We miss one another when we're apart and can't get enough when we're together. Usually. But we also let a messy house, a cold dinner, a parenting dispute, that unexpected bill -- you know, life -- come between us.
And our whispered white sand promises are lost in the busy monotony of our lives.
Yet we still vie for a hot marriage. I actually think about it. I see him through the kitchen window mowing the lawn, shirt off, hot and sticky, flecks of mud and grass stuck to his chest. And I think "hmmm...." He walks in from a long day of work, tie loose at his throat, and sits with our little girl and reads with her. It's just plain sexy.
But then dinner boils over and milk is spilled at the table, I scrub pots and pans, mop up messes, call out Science lab terms to my 6th grader, turn over a load of laundry and remind someone to feed the dog again. I walk outside to dump half-empty water bottles into my pots of wilted flowers and I'm greeted with the foul odor of the septic system. My husband heads out to Home Depot for chemicals because some things that stink just can't wait. I'm left to do baths and devotions and by the time he returns, I can hardly keep my eyes open. Tomorrow is filled with much of the same, a lesson here, a church group there... life has a way of going from Monday to Thursday in a snap and I can hardly remember that hot guy mowing the lawn.
I can confirm the temperature because I have known the extremes: a cold marriage, filled with contempt and misery. A lukewarm marriage, perhaps the worst, filled with idle days, stagnant affection and distant intimacy.
We have lived every season -- from unemployment to sickness to grief to sheer joy. Our favorite by far: White hot. It's also the most difficult to maintain.
Marriage is hard, hard, hard work. We never arrive and kick up our feet and ride the waves of hot monogamy. It takes faithful, committed, selfless habit-forming work in the middle of a boring routine. They say it takes 21 days or more to create a habit. I dare you to try the following six habits for the next month and see what happens:
Habits we try to repeat daily:
- Touch everyday: Make a conscious effort to grab his hand, run your hands through her hair, kiss for a couple of seconds. Set a goal to physically touch his arm when you're talking, tackle him in a hug in your closet, pat her butt on the way out the door.
We get it right some days and miss the mark other days. But we never give up.