Spice it up

Chuck and I have been married nearly forty years. Our lives have never been dull. But excitement is not the only ingredient for a thriving relationship. Sometimes the excitement (or maybe the stress) would push the relationship into the background until suddenly it became obvious that the relationship was falling by the wayside while we attended to whatever was most demanding in our lives. Tyranny of the urgent was sometimes the best description.

So we learned by mistakes and by better choices that especially in the struggles, time for nurture of the relationship has to be carved out. And really, at least for us, when is it not intense struggling with one thing or another? Rarely is there a time without some kind of crisis. So we have chosen to find space for our relationship.

The crazy thing is, even the nurturing things can become routine and boring, no longer renewing to the relationship. And that is where we find ourselves right now. We love each other. We are in intense times, like always. And the ways we wind down and spend time together have become so routine that although they are comfortable, they are also a bit boring.

It can take a while to realize that the things that always worked are not working as well anymore. But that is normal. At any rate, there was a day when we seemed to both be recognizing at the same time that we’d slipped into a slump.

Because we’ve been married nearly forty years, we don’t take for granted that time will move endlessly forward for us. Life is now pretty obviously time sensitive. So we sat down and asked ourselves the question, what can we do now that will bring joy and new life to our relationship?

The first answer we came up with was the one we acted on last week.

At least once every three months we are going to go somewhere or do something new to both of us...create a completely new memory. We set a date and I offered to come up with the plan.

In the last year I’ve noticed my facebook friends posting pics of places they visited in Kansas. There were pictures of prairies, natural formations, interesting foods, musicians. One of those places was the Tallgrass Prairie Reserve.

Stone barn at the Tallgrass Prairie

I was looking for a place we could be outdoors, because Chuck loves being outdoors. I wanted a place we could bring the dog, because Fritz needs to get used to being calm in new environments. And I wanted a place close enough that we could get there, enjoy it, and get back home in one long afternoon. The Tallgrass Prairie fit all the requirements.

Prairie with visitor center 

It was so lovely. Overcast skies allowed the temperature to stay comfortable for a long walk, and the lack of even a breeze made the songs of the meadowlarks unmistakeable around us. Fritz carried our water in his backpack as we ambled along trails that took us to places where the trail itself was the only visible sign of human presence.

We relaxed and talked about fun things and hard things. We pondered questions about faith, and about human nature, and about less weighty topics...such as whether we can judge how far 100 yards are so that we can be sure to stay at least 100 yards away from any buffalo. We pointed out the things we could see and hear, and made sure to notice. At one especially quiet moment we heard Prairie chicken hens calling and clucking. It was magical.

Today we are back to living in the midst of important things to think about and respond to, but with a better view from having taken a step away for ourselves yesterday.


Mel said…
I enjoyed reading this, Aunt Bev. Love hearing the intentionality going into your marriage and relationship, even 40 years down the road (or especially 40 years down the road). And this advice of mixing things up is applicable even to some of us who have only been married 6 months!

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