Ian and I have been together for eight years and have known each other for 13. One of the things I’ve always loved about being together is how comfortable we are with the other, long before we even started dating or fell in love. So, I’d be lying if I said that the comfort doesn’t sometimes translate into…well, laziness. I own a lot of sweatpants, you guys. Like, a lot. And with two little ones running around making us pay for everything and feed them on the regular, we sometimes take each other for granted because we’re busy keeping our collective lives moving forward. Who has time for date nights and deep conversations?
As it turns out – us! But not without some effort and attention. Which is what I’ve committed to doing more of this year and Ian could not be more thrilled, since it translated into taking a love language quiz.
But more on that in a minute.
Let’s get real: you’d be hard-pressed to find a marriage where you’re not taking the other one for granted at least some of the time. It’s not realistic to think that you’re always killing it when it comes to spending quality time with your partner when you can see the laundry piling up out of the corner of your eye. Am I right? So, of course Ian and I have spent the last few years taking for granted that the other one was just there. We were counting on it, actually, and that’s because we knew we were solid enough to survive back-to-back babyhood and see each other on the other side. Because you’re in a pressure cooker when you’re in that baby phase and I don’t care how good your relationship is – you’re ultimately gonna’ turn on each other at some point. But if you can hang on for the ride, take the time to apologize when it’s needed, and bite your tongue when you’re over-tired and leaking, you’ll do yourself and your marriage some good, I came to find.
I mean, I can still remember one specific night so vividly, a few months into having our first daughter. We were standing in the kitchen, I was holding a finally sleeping little human, and Ian and I were whisper-apologizing to each other. It was a rough few weeks with a colicky newborn and there was lots of snapping and resentment. Resentment from me that he got to go to work with grown-ups all day while I was home alone (unknowingly dealing with some underlying issues of my own) and resentment from him that I kept butting in with my two cents on how he was parenting all the time. Have I mentioned what a joy I can be?
Which is why we made our high-five pact to make date night a priority for 2019. We were long overdue for some wine and burgers without our kids in sight. So that was step one.
Step two? Spend more time being truly present with each other week-to-week, not just on date night. Try to really connect somehow on a daily basis. Which I know sounds like a lot of work and – full disclosure - we don’t succeed at it all the time…probably only half of the time, realistically. But the practice of it has really made a difference, and the practice is what I care about anyway; the perfection doesn’t exist.
I mean, he’s the one I want to raise these kids with and he’s the one I want to go on date night with. He’s the one that I want to celebrate with, share a Netflix account with, and grow old with. But also? He’s the one that I can feel white hot rage towards when I see his underwear on the bathroom floor every single day and is the reason I have mumbled to myself hundreds of times and done the breathing and counting thing I try to teach my kids when they get all worked up over something seemingly little.
Truth: if you’ve lived with someone for more than three months, you will eventually temporarily hate them over how they squeeze the toothpaste out of the tube or how they chew their food or something nobody else would even notice about them. But you do, because you’ve become an anthropologist of this one other human being and can almost predict that when you walk into the kitchen, the cabinets will be open, along with the microwave door. And you’re not off the hook either, mama. He can predict with almost 100% accuracy that he’ll open the garbage can lid upon coming inside from having just taken it out, and you will have thrown garbage in without a bag in there because you’re the absolute worst version of yourself. He can predict that you will truly try to remember not to put the cardboard in with the plastic, since you have two bins to distinguish, but you won’t succeed. And he will start counting down from 10, mumble to himself, and “look for something in the basement” for five minutes until he’s decided he loves you again.
But I digress. Step two.
Step two led us to the Love Language Quiz. Wait, what? I know. If you’d asked me a few years ago what my “love language” was, I would’ve stared blankly at you while definitely judging you in my head. Because, come on, a love language sounds like something that you’d only talk about in therapy or hear on the Goop podcast or something. Oh also, I should mention that when I say it led to “us” taking the quiz, I should mean that it led to me doing it, then talking to him for 10 minutes about why I thought it was important that he do it until he just gave in, because that was easier.
But as it turns out? It really taught us a few helpful things! And honestly? After he took the quiz and we compared our results, we ended up talking for hours. Which, I don’t know about you guys, but is an exceptional amount of time for us to spend talking without being interrupted two million times by preschoolers. In just a few weeks, we’ve been able to communicate differently than I think we would’ve previously, and it’s mainly because we took the time to figure out what works for the other person – not just what worked for us individually.
Seems obvious, I guess, and maybe you guys have already figured that out? But I’m the Uncurated Mama over here still trying and so some seemingly silly quiz led to genuine connection. And, as it turned out, we didn’t know everything about the other one after all. Which was a nice surprise and something we can keep talking about on the next date night. Ian is so excited.
What’s your love language? Roll your eyes and then go find out!