The great marriage counselor (ok, actress) Julie Roberts once said:
“The coolest thing you can do for your children is to love each other in their presence.” Allure Magazine 2009
For some reason this has been on my mind lately. Science Guy and I took the girls to a park yesterday and kicked their butts in a game of volleyball (just had to get that little tidbit in print). Instead of the usual high-five when we’d score, it tended more towards butt pats. He kissed me when we won and it crossed my mind that the girls should be yelling Ewwwww by now.
They’re 9, 10 and almost 14 – surely they should be grossed out by parental PDA by now but I don’t think they are. I think they’re happy we still love each other enough that we aren’t afraid to show it. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t make out (or worse) in front of them but we aren’t afraid to be affectionate when they’re around. I kiss him when he leaves in the morning, and when he comes home at night. There will always be a kiss when one of us leaves the house or for no reason at all. There will always be hand holding. That’s just the way it is.
It’s that way for my parents as well. I’ve always gotten the sense that my sister and I were secondary to that love they have for each other and honestly, I think that’s the way it should be. It doesn’t mean I love my children any less, or that I make them feel less loved than he is, or that they aren’t my world, because they are. But in the end, our relationship is at the heart of it. I think of it as the kids orbiting around us because eventually (God willing) they’ll grow up and have full lives of their own. We’ll be back to just the 2 of us and if we don’t nurture that now in any small way we can, we won’t be as close as we should be when that day comes.
I think we’re setting an example of the kind of relationship our children should strive for in their lives. I know watching my parents growing up made me have higher standards for the kind of spouse I wanted. My dad was never less than kind and completely loving to my mom and she was the same. They’ve been married 47 years so far. It’s what my daughters are seeing across multiple generations. I know there’s no guarantee they’ll be so lucky in love but I want them to know it’s out there – it IS possible.
This relationship is one of the many reasons I fight this damn disease so hard. I don’t want to be deprived of that next phase of life when the girls move on to their own lives and families and we’re alone again. Traveling from home to home to visit and take their kids so they’ll have time alone with the person they love.
My mom lost friends over the years because she refused to spend lunches bashing my dad. I have friends who spend most of their time complaining about their husbands. One woman I know spends much of her time complaining about her husband’s lack of skills in the bedroom. So not appropriate and I have to think it would break her heart if he was talking the same way about her with his friends. It’s about respect.
My favorite part of my recent weekend away was an afternoon spent with 2 of my closest friends discussing our lives, spouses, partners. Neither of them complained about or put down their significant others. Instead, we celebrated how lucky each of us are to spend our lives with such amazing people!
When Science Guy and I were dating all those years ago I remember being at his house and I asked what we should do. Go to a movie, out for drinks, call some friends? He said “let’s stay here and just be.” At the time I wondered what the hell he was talking about. Now I know. It means just being together, with no outside interruptions, to appreciate and nurture your relationship. It doesn’t even mean sex. It’s about connecting.
After I got sick, when my body had so much healing left to do and sex wasn’t an option, I appreciated it the most. The Soul Patrol song Chasing Cars was popular and these lyrics hit home more than anything else:
If I lay here
If I just lay here
would you lie with me and just forget the world?
In this world where there’s so much wrong. I think the best way to get through it is to find your person, tune out everything else, and just be. Your children will thank you.