Editor's Note: This article is part of a series of articles by Kym Wright on marriage's "little kindnesses." For more articles in this series, see the links at the bottom of this article.
As if just living on this planet that hurls 67,000 miles each and every hour through space isn’t stressful enough, building a lasting relationship with someone else brings on a whole new set of problems – or challenges. Opportunities, perhaps.
By our very nature, Spouse and I bounce on the positive. We are optimistic. The glass is not just half full, but ready and willing to be overflowing. We live by faith and not by sight. Or rather, hope springs eternal.
Acknowledging that we even have stress in our lives is a major breakthrough. We both must feel we are superhuman sometimes with the amount we take on in life. We ask our friends and relatives to please not burst our bubbles just yet. And it is with great difficulty that we admit certain things cause us distress.
With Spouse’s quieter nature, many times I have to zero in on nonverbal cues which say he’s feeling the burdens of life on his shoulders: a not-so-nice response to the children, going directly to the computer when he gets home to minimize contact/conflict, staring off into the distance with That Look in his eyes.
We have both chosen to become students of our marriage. To study each other to discover what we are about: what pleases him, which activities bring me pleasure, how he likes his coffee, and what de-stresses us both.
When our children were little, I had visions of June Cleaver and Leave it to Beaver in my head. Spouse coming home from a hard day at work, heading to the recliner to read the paper until I served dinner – with a long string of barely offwhite pearls draped elegantly about my neck. This was success.
However, reality crowds my idealism, and with three, then four, then more children joined our family, many times I was exhausted when Spouse would finally come through the door each evening. Tired of being the only adult with little ones. Tired of having to be an adult sometimes. Tired of the interaction and distractions which make up life with preschoolers.
I must admit: string of pearls I have, but June Cleaver I am not.
So, we made a plan to compromise reality, idealism, Spouse’s needs and mine. Rather than coming home to de-stress, he decided to use his commute time to think through the day and relax, stopping at the end of the street if necessary for a few peaceful minutes. Then when he came through the door, jumping into our lives with joy. Setting the table with the children, listening to the excitement of their day, letting me take a few minutes to go to a quiet corner of the house for a minute or two and . . . de-stress.
We also found that short day-trips restore our perspective in life. Having moved to a new state, we want to experience the things this new land has to offer. So the children and I planned a special outing: for Spouse’s birthday we went to an orchard and picked succulent apples from the tree. Juice ran down our forearms as we picked and tasted. A raspberry farm down the street caught our eye, so we ventured over and filled baskets with ripe red and golden varieties. At home, we made apple pies and tarts, and ate them hot from the oven. And I wonder if just maybe a bit of June Cleaver lives on in my children?
Through study and observation, we have found other ways that help restore Spouse. One is physical activity. He enjoys baseball, racquetball, water and snow skiing and other sports. Playing these with the children adds to the pleasure. Bike riding as a family on new trails helps us learn the area, build up our strength, and restore our hearts and minds. Mowing the lawn gives him time to think through work-related problems stirring in his thoughts. The grass-cutting complete, his world is in order: pretty landscape, solutions to life.
In our marriages, are there things we can do to become a student of our Spouse’s life? To find out what makes him or her who they are? What helps him succeed? What restores her soul? How do they like to de-stress? Then we can find simple ways to bring those to life. Minutes, hours, or days of restorative activities bring back the joy of living. De-stressing, adding fun, and making memories. Does life get any better than that?
Married 30 years, Mark & Kym Wright have eight children. Kym loves to read, write, sew, and bake bread. You can visit her website at: http://www.kymwright.com/ Her free online publication is The Mother’s Heart magazine, for wives and mothers with hearts in their homes.