I don't want to pretend to have all the answers. Earl and I have definitely had our challenges in 21 years of marriage, but this week we did two things that, I think, have helped us maintain a relationship where we still enjoy each other.
The other night, on one of Earl's rare nights off, once the boys were safely home, I suggested that Earl and I walk the mile up to Caribou Coffee. Of course, it was dark already, but the temperature hovered in the 50s and a misty rain fell occasionally. We both carried umbrellas and I had my reusable cup so I could get 50 cents off and so I could be ecologically conscious. We held hands as we walked the quiet streets until we got to the brightly lit Caribou. I found a seat and Earl fetched my coffee, which was supposed to be decaf, but considering how wired I was afterward, I'm thinking it might have been regular.
As we sat in the cozy Caribou Coffee, we talked about Earl's plans, which constitute the second step to a happy marriage. He was leaving for a backpacking trip in West Virginia. He would only be gone two days, but sometimes a marriage is stronger with a little distance.
He takes offense at this idea, but sometimes I do need time to myself. So I told him I had arranged to have the day off on Thursday. That way, I could rejuvenate alone.
It's not that Earl bugs me when I'm home. Sometimes he's a little oversolicitous.
"Can I get you anything?"
"What are you working on?"
"Do you want some tea?"
"Want to go for a walk later?"
And these are all perfectly kind questions for my husband to ask me while we're home together and the boys are at school.
Sometimes though, I like to have the place to myself.
This morning, Earl left around 7 and the boys screeched out of the house a little before 8 hoping to make it to school on time.
I had a 45 minute conversation with my friend Ruth in Michigan (who, with 4 kids at home, is very jealous I'm home alone). Then Grace called me on Skype and we talked for a few minutes.
Next, I did 45 minutes of yoga. Usually with yoga, I'm itching to finish, ticking off all the things that I need to do yet. But today, I was calm and the time passed quickly.
Now I'm in front of the computer, ready to do some writing, and I'll probably reward myself with a walk down to Caribou later.
I'm a free woman until the boys get done with school. Then I'll have to do some driving and make some dinner -- maybe chili since the temperature is still in the 30s.
This time alone is rejuvenating for me, And hopefully Earl's hike in the West Virginia mountains will be refreshing for him. Then I'll see him in two days and we'll be ready to move onto 21 more years.
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