There typically comes a time when you look at your spouse and wonder, who the hell are you? Sure you might share the same bed every night, get the kids off to school, check off all the boxes of daily life together, but before you know it,
days weeks months have passed without an actual conversation. And you realize that you actually understand what Barry Manilow meant about ships passing in the night.
It’s ridiculous to think that 10, 15, or 20 years later we’re the same people we were on our wedding day.
We’re building careers, raising children, changing homes- we get caught up in life. Not to mention that when we said "I do," their quirks were still endearing and not annoying the living shit out of us.
What we needed in our relationship then, and what we need today, are most likely vastly different. Yet, over the years we renegotiate contracts and mortgages to suit changing circumstances...why don't we consider renegotiating our marriage?
A few years ago I probably would've given my left arm to pee in peace or have 15 minutes of alone time. Now the house is too quiet.
I couldn't have told you on our wedding day that a quick daytime text hello would be important to me...iPhones didn't exist.
Nor did I know how much I'd appreciate a surprise coffee brought to the kid's early morning games...Starbucks wasn't around either.
Too often, though, we expect our partners to mind read what we need to feel loved or appreciated. I don’t think that we necessarily stop caring about fulfilling each other’s needs as much as when we think we have it figured out, life changes.
A friend of mine was recently heading out of town for a much-needed weekend trip alone with her husband: a weekend away with a man she’d been married to for over 15 years. Suddenly it dawned on her that she had no idea what they would even talk about. Anxiously anticipating hours of silence, she bought a conversation starter book for tips.
So maybe this new year brings a new tradition- renegotiating your marriage. It's not about eliminating "in sickness and health" or "til death do you part", it's re-evaluating the everyday.
What do you need daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly to feel like you're in this together? What makes you feel loved, appreciated, and able to be your best self.
Maybe it's as simple as a quick text hello, a monthly date night, or an annual family weekend getaway. Possibly it's just 15 re-energizing minutes alone each day.
Then compare lists.
While one may want weekly date nights, the other might be cool with 4 per year...you may need a little negotiating.
Maybe, like my other friends, a daily checklist will help with the transition from what fulfilled you before...to what life requires today.
To some couples it seems absurd that books and lists would ever be necessary. Communication comes naturally- schedules are accommodating- weekend morning coffee on the patio is routine.
That’s not my world.
When it finally is, though, it’ll probably be time for new negotiations.