Megan on the Move: A working relationship

You hear people say all the time that marriage is “work” and that you have to “take time for date night” and all that business. And it seemed to me that if you are manufacturing time to go on dates or working at loving your spouse or penciling in romance, the whole thing is a lost game before it even started.

And, to be frank, I still kind of think that, in my heart of hearts. But I know now that: 1) Children change EVERYTHING (duh, I know); and 2) Age changes that which wasn’t already changed by children.

So even though I think my marriage should pretty much work on its own because I married the right person, and he gets me and I get him and we’re respectful of each other’s busy schedules and general fatigue, all of those sappy marriage advice counselors and self-help writers might be on to something. I might have to admit that I have to work a little bit at my marriage.

My husband and I often joke that we are ships in the night. And barely that. We rarely get to sleep in the same bed because of children, snoring and schedules. We work long hours, negotiate evening work engagements and social opportunities, and sleep whenever possible.

A case in point: recently, a friend picked up our children from school because we both had to work late. This presented the strange opportunity of freedom at 6:30 for both of us. She said she’d keep the kids if we wanted to go out together and watch a Royals game. We looked at each other, both considered saying, “Naw, we’re tired,” and then I jumped up and grabbed my purse and we both bolted out the door.

We went to a greasy dive bar where they have the best burgers in the world, sat in exhausted silence mostly while we ate food neither of us cooked, and reveled in the peace and the Royals’ win.

We were home by 8 p.m. Not exactly a sexy night out. But it was a start. He looked at me as we walked in the door and said, “I don’t know when the last time we walked into a bar together was.” I tried to think: I’m good with recollection of events. I couldn’t remember either. Which means it was probably our anniversary. In June. Four months ago.

So yes, we need to try harder. But the bummer is, I just don’t have a lot of try in me right now. I try hard at work, and at parenting, and at cooking and freelancing and community and everything. I don’t have much try left for my husband. And luckily, he gets that.

So while the marriage gurus might be right, and I’ll give it the old college try, my advice to the marriage gurus — and everyone — is this: choose carefully. Marry someone low maintenance. Make sure he or she gets you well enough to understand that you might be too tired, or too old, or have too many kids to be winning awards for best, sexiest, most attentive wife/husband. Marry someone who will not only NOT judge you for walking in after work and going straight to pajamas, but will say, “Heck yes,” and do it right along with you.

— Megan Stuke is a wife and a mother of Johnny (5) and Lily (1). By day she works to help children and families at Ballard Community Services, and by night she writes, cooks, cleans (very little) and tries her best to be part of everything Lawrence has to offer.


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