I can clearly recall a conversation I had with one of my dorm mates my freshman year in college. She tossed herself down on my bed and huffed a sigh. “I just got off the phone with my mother.” Now I knew she was close with both her parents and although I had yet to meet them, they seemed like really cool people from the stories she’d told me. So I was pretty sure there wasn’t some sort of blow-up between them. She says, “we were chatting and my Mom told me that she and my dad have this ‘regular Sunday thing.'” I looked at her quizzically and then she lifted her hands to air quote and repeated “their Sunday nights.” “Huh? Oh! Now I get it.”
Of course she was a bit mortified, what kid wouldn’t be. While I was a bit mystified, how in the heck had that come up as a topic for discussion? But, that was not the point. In order to help erase the grimace on my friend’s face I told her that it was a good thing. At least her parents still loved each other, right? She probably wouldn’t be one of those college kids whose parents suddenly split up when their youngest child left the nest. My positive affirmations were not well received, “Do not try and find the silver lining in this situation, please,” she said with annoyance. “I’m glad they’re still hot for each other but that was one piece of information I could spend the rest of my life happily living without.” Good point.
At the ripe old age of 18 we knew that a healthy sex life was important. In some ways we understood the significance of these Sunday tristes in terms of protecting a marriage and keeping it strong. But being that we were only 18, it was more icky than educational.
Fast forward 18 years and here I am at the age of 36, having a much better idea of just how valuable those Sunday Sex-a-thons, as we later named them, truly are. I remember sitting in many Bible studies in the early years of my marriage and as a mother and hearing from more mature wives/mothers how important it is to schedule time for you marriage. Now mind you Hubs and I were never one of those couples who spent the first months of our marriage locked up in our chamber of love. Maybe it was because we lived with each other for a year while we were in engaged and were over it by the time we got married or maybe it was because he was in law school and I was working three jobs… but there never seemed to be a “honeymoon phase” of our marriage. We were happy without a doubt- in spite of the law school schedule, tight finances and my constant maneuvering from one job to another in a day. In fact, I remember several people telling us that the statistics for the survival rate of marriages during law school was abysmally low- nice friends, huh? But I never had a doubt. We were solid. Endless hours of sex or not. It never occurred to me not to be together- even when he consistently did his own laundry while leaving mine on the floor or he constantly put the glasses away wrong in the cabinet. These were not the things to end a marriage- but they sure as heck bugged the crap out of me.
But as the years went by the jobs changed and the boys arrived and I began to appreciate what all those women had shared early on- make time for your marriage… ALL parts of your marriage, including sex. “How sad,” I had originally thought. These women have to write Have Sex on their agendas for the day. “I hope I never end up like them.” Those thoughts were now distant memories that echoed in my mind and I finally understood. It isn’t “sad” and they didn’t “end up” anywhere. They were living the busy life of a mother and wife and homemaker and employee. At the end of the day there was no room in their brains for sex, never mind the fact they barely squeezed in a workout at 9 p.m. and hadn’t found time to shower in 3 days. Truth be told, marriage was something that had to be prioritized and have carved out time for- just like grocery shopping, a work out and the laundry. And let’s not even begin to talk about the role of hormones during these years. Now THAT was an honest conversation that needed to be had over egg dishes and Monkey Bread at Bible study!
So here I am, almost 12 years into my marriage and I feel like I have a pretty broad perspective. I can remember quite clearly the early days of wedded bliss before kids, the dreamy first few years of watching our first born son explore the world, and the pride and joy of becoming a family of 4. Jobs have continued to change and schedules have become even busier. We’ve now got homework and after school sports, commutes and working from home. Life is insanely busy, yet blessed. And my Mom Agenda is like a third arm. I never leave home without it because my brain has become a sieve in recent years.
And has this busyness caused me to neglect my marriage? Honestly, at times it has. My head is so full and my days are so packed that being a “good wife” is often the thing that I push off to tomorrow’s To Do List. And by “good wife” I don’t simply mean sex. I mean giving my husband my 100% undivided attention, cooking his favorite meal regardless of whether or not the kids will eat it, making sure he schedules time to game with friends or go to the movies. Those are the things a “good wife” does. Or at least a wife who is good for my husband. I’m not going to get into the specifics of my sex life here- partly because it’s private and partly because my dad reads this blog;) But sex is also part of the Good Wife job description in our home. To be completely honest, it’s high on the Good Husband job description as well. At times, I think it might be higher on my list of demands than his, much to his joy. But I will say that throughout our 11+ years of marriage we have been very honest and very conscientious in this part of our marriage. There have been painfully honest (and sometimes embarrassing) conversations about expectations and needs and a very intentional effort on both our parts to nurture and protect our marriage. Has it made marriage easy? Of course not. Have you met me? I’m no walk in the park to be married to. And Hubs? Let’s just say we are both earning our entrance into heaven by learning to love, honor and serve each other.
So over the years we’ve learned to put certain practices into place and learned to speak one another’s language. First, we committed early on to put our kids to bed early to ensure that we had time as a couple. It benefits everyone. They have never been starved for sleep and we have never been starved for quality time. Now I’m not saying all our nights are spent in the throes of passion. Often I’m reading and he’s playing on XBOX Live. But we’re together and happy. The second “rule” we have for in our marriage, one that took a lot of getting used to for both of us, is that we never say no to the other person. Barring illness or sudden loss of consciousness (which one or both of us might have faked in the past) we never deny our spouse. I know friends of ours who find this a bit shocking. But truth be told, it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there, literally and figuratively, for another person and ask for something. Even if the other person is your spouse. No one likes to be rejected. Secondly, no matter how tired you are, who doesn’t have fun when you get started, right? Right. In the end, it’s a win-win for everyone involved.
The last thing and BEST thing we’ve done to prioritize our marriage is learn to read and understand each other. Let’s be honest ladies, it’s not hard to read our men. The lingering looks? The excessive innuendos? The flirty texts? The more than usual smack on the ass as you walk by? Men are not subtle by nature. And although we like to think we’re deep and complex beings, we women ain’t hard to read either. I’ve learned over the years to simply pay attention to my husband. His needs, his wants, his thoughts and his emotions are all right there on the surface when I take the time to look. As he has told me on countless occasions, he’s a pretty simple creature. There are no underlying messages or hidden feelings. It’s all right there plain as day and ready for me to address- whether it be in the kitchen, the office or the bedroom.
These practices are not rocket science. We certainly didn’t come up with them ourselves. It’s simply about being intentional and honest. But the results are pretty amazing. Staying married these days is no easy task. But staying married and having an unbelievably hot sex life with your husband/best friend that keeps getting better and better? Now that’s unique!
So it was this ability to “read” my husband that set the tone for our household a week or so ago. Hubs decided to work from home on a random Tuesday. I have to say I love and hate those days. Love them because he’s near and the boys can see him at any time throughout the day, as can I. Hate them because when he’s here I want him to be a part of the family and help out. Not really fair or possible since he’s trying to do work. But on this particular Tuesday his schedule wasn’t overly full. So when he got home from dropping DS2 off at school he settled in on the couch and flipped on the t.v.
Now I had my Mom Agenda full of things to do. I had my usual few hours for work, plus the laundry and a few errands to run for DS1’s class party. It was gonna be a full day until 12:30 when I had to get DS2 and again til 2:30 when I had to pick up DS1. But as I looked over the bar and across the room at my husband casually sprawled out on the couch I just knew. I could read him like a book. The way his arm was splayed along the back of the couch and he was unceremoniously sprawled out on the couch. The relaxed set of his jaw, for once not clenching and moving with the stress of all he had to get done. The flirty way he glanced at me across our kitchen. I know my husband. And I knew what he wanted. So I spoke the words that every man on the planet since the creation of Adam wants to hear…
“Hey honey. You wanna go to CostCo with me?”
And it was like I just stepped out from behind our kitchen cabinets wrapped in lingerie and a red bow tied around my waist. He jumped up from the couch and exclaimed, “Sure! Let me grab my keys!” He was like a kid on Christmas morning. Sure, this is not quite how many people would spend a kid-free morning at home. Some may have entertained visions of hot middle of the day sex on the stairs in a “Thomas Crown Affair” kind of manner. Others may have had images of couch sex or kitchen table sex. But like I said, it’s all about knowing your spouse, reading their cues and learning their language. And having the house to ourselves in the middle of the day in the middle of the week for several hours screamed one thing to us… NOONER!*
So maybe this isn’t the hot sexy nooner of my early twenties or the passionate hours of the beginning of our relationship. But it was exactly what we both needed and wanted. A few hours doing something fun as a married couple. No kids. No agenda. No need to speed through the aisles or skip certain ones to avoid the inevitable, “Can I have that?” Not one, “Stop touching your brother!” It wasn’t a fancy date night that took hours of planning in order to find a sitter or the pressure of being in a good mood so it isn’t wasted because who knows when we’ll have a sitter again.
It was just a boy and a girl holding hands and leisurely pushing a cart and enjoying being in one another’s presence while sampling ravioli, pot stickers and pomegranate juice.
We may not be the starring characters in a sexy Harlequin novel. But it wasn’t bodice-ripping that brought us together in the first place. It was the simple fact that he quickly became my best friend and the person I wanted by my side for life. We are a man and a woman who have been married for a decent amount of time, who have survived raising two boys so far, own a home, have responsible jobs, pay our bills, go to church and all the other moving parts that marriage entails. But mostly, we’re just a boy and a girl who met almost 15 years ago, fell in love and still love each other. Very much.
Nooners aren’t quite what they used to be… They’re better.
That’s just my normal.
*For those of you who don’t know what a “nooner” is, please go here. Be warned, the Urban Dictionary is hilariously and brutally honest. If you’re easily offended: 1) How are you friends with me? 2) How do you read this blog? 3) Do NOT click on the link.