Lately, there have been a few posts on our San Antonio Mothers of Multiples facebook site about the struggles of having multiples and trying to keep a marriage on track. Honestly, I probably could have written one of those posts myself. You see, it has been a crazy Spring: four birthdays (two complete with parties), a first communion, family visiting, and me working during the week and then two weekends in a row. Don’t get me wrong, all of the events were wonderful celebrations (and I love what I do outside of family life), but we hadn’t given our marriage the time of day in a long, long time.
In fact, by last week I fumed to Scott about not unloading the dishwasher and he, in very uncharacteristic fashion, stormed out of the house. Our fuses were pretty short with each other.
One of the important things that is difficult, but absolutely necessary, in a marriage is remembering those times that you were a couple–just the two of you. In fact, I remember reading a book on what makes a marriage last, and the author could predict whether a marriage would work by how the couple could harken back to a good memory of them together. And, successful marriages build new memories to shore up those that occurred too many years ago.
If you are sleep deprived, in the midst of caring for newborns, dealing with toddlers, carting children to piano, soccer, scouts–whatever it is–this often seems like a monumental task. We spend a majority of our time negotiating the unending chore list and feeding resentment when we feel that the other person isn’t holding up his or her side of the “house and family” seesaw.
We can’t even remember who WE were before having children, let alone who we were as a couple.
As corny as this sounds, Scott and I can go back to Lyle Lovette.
We both LOVE Lyle Lovett’s music. In fact, our first dance at our wedding was to his song, Dakota. During our first year of marriage while living in New Jersey, Scott met Lyle Lovett during a business trip and had him call me on the cell phone. Woke me up–and at first I thought it was a joke. It gets even funnier–the doctor that delivered Dylan here in Texas is a close friend of Lyle’s.
Whenever Lyle Lovett is in town, whether it has been Red Rocks in Colorado or the Performing Arts Center in Newark, New Jersey, we try to catch every concert we can. In Texas we have been lucky enough to see him a few times.
So a couple of months ago, when I heard he was performing an acoustic evening with his friend, Robert Earl Keene, at the Majestic Theater I bought tickets to surprise Scott. I intended to save them for his birthday, which was just last week, but I couldn’t hold on to the surprise.
Last night we went to the concert.
The “Lyle Lovett Magic” for our marriage wasn’t immediate. In fact, I was so strung-out on mommyhood that even Lyle couldn’t unlock the memories of Scott and me together as a couple. It took me at least the first few songs where I wasn’t thinking about the children and how the two year old cried like his mommy was leaving him. . .FOREVER. . .when we left the house. If you are a mom in the throes of intense motherhood–and you haven’t had a night out with just you and your husband in months–mommy-mode is sometimes hard to claw your way out of.
After the concert, on what I thought would be a quick walk to the car, we talked about the amazing talent that we had just seen, and how we wished that we lived with our talents beaming out of us like it obviously did for Lyle and Robert. We talked about getting a drink and a snack before heading home. Then Scott took my hand and walked into a hotel. What?!
He went to the desk where the person behind the counter handed him his backpack.
Scott had surprised me with a night away from the kids: just the two of us.
Let me tell you, it had been FOUR YEARS since we’ve had a night away without everyone else sprawled around a hotel room with us.
The next morning we had breakfast at Mi Tierra–a San Antonio landmark and a place where Scott and I had many breakfasts together when we’d come to San Antonio after we were married. We laughed and talked and took our time eating. When you don’t have children at the table you can eat your food while it is still hot!
As we were talking, Scott said, “We aren’t going to get any younger and we will never go back to the days of pre-children. We need to make sure that our marriage is here with us while we raise these kids.”
I didn’t want to go home. In the midst of dividing the chores and being too tired at the end of the day for anything other than a peck on the check, I had forgotten how fun it was to hang out together.
On the way home we stopped at Scott’s mother’s house to drop off some things she needed and a couple of baked good items from Mi Tierra. She hadn’t heard of Scott’s surprise for me, and she was thrilled to hear that we had had a night out alone.
Lucy, who turned 90 in March, knows a thing or two about keeping a marriage going. She and her husband, Ernie, were married nearly sixty years before he died. Together they had eight children, twenty-something grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. She can still remember the challenges of nurturing a marriage AND raising a family.
“I don’t want you to think less of me. . .” she began sheepishly. “But, one time your father and I checked into a three dollar motel in the middle of the day.”
Scott laughed nervously, “Did you have all eight of us kids by then?”
“Yes. And, we just needed some time together.”
See–marriages need surprises–and they need time for the two people in them to be together.
We have to purposely take the time to put ourselves into the place where we can remind each other why we married. . .and often times. . .why we are sticking this out. Unless we are creating new memories of just us together in the midst of us as parents, we will find that the times when the marriage is strained or faltering, we won’t have a place to go to remember what we were like.