Life was meant to be a bunch of little moments - seconds, minutes, and hours - that make up a larger whole. It is in these little moments that the MEANING we are looking for is found. So it is with marriage.
Meaning, fulfillment, wholeness, and happiness are found in the everyday, normal, prosaic moments of life. Moments like washing dishes together, laughing like crazy kids together, driving to your special place together, going grocery shopping together, working on yard work together, or simply sneaking a quick wink or smile at each other. Moments like eating dinner at the kitchen table, getting up early to exercise, taking the dog for a walk, or watching a favorite TV show. Moments like painting a room, buying a gift for a niece or nephew, playing co-ed softball together, or heading to a local frozen yogurt shop (of course I would include that). These are the moments that make up our lives, and our marriages. These are the moments that MAKE our lives and our marriages.
The little things we do together can sometimes seem monotonous, boring, and definitely not our idea of "happily ever after." However, we can gain a lot of insight and wisdom into life, and marriage, when we recognize these normal, ordinary activities for what they are. Experiences that invite and provide the MEANING we are all looking for.
Here is an example to consider - taking the dog for a walk. What seems like a simple chore can actually be packed with great meaning. Think about it, this is something you do every day, generally around the same time of day. You put on your shoes, get Foofy (We obviously don't have a dog! We would be terrible dog namers.) on a leash, grab a poop bag, and head out. You follow the same path. You see the same neighbors. You memorize what your neighborhood looks like.
You take Foofy for a walk every day, in rain or shine, spring or winter, in happy times or sad. You get the picture. The meaning comes in many forms - enjoying nature, having time to think, getting to know your neighbors, listening to something, taking a break from your fast-paced life, etc. As you learn to see the meaning in the ordinary, what seems to be a simple task will actually become something that is renewing, refreshing, and rewarding. And therefore, super meaningful.
Really, marriage is very similar. A simple task like making dinner together (Can I get a show of hands to see how many people actually do that?! We so don't do that, at least not on a regular basis, but good for you! It's just an example...) can be more fulfilling than a night out at a fancy restaurant. How, you ask? It works because in the process of deciding what to eat, chopping up veggies and meat (or pouring cereal, in our case), waiting for the meal to cook, and then eating it together, you have time to talk, laugh, and take each others' emotional temperatures. You have time to flirt. Time to flick a little something on his nose. Or swat her bum with that dish towel. Or just make-out while something is cooking (beware the creepy looks of staring children).
This is why these small tasks (that can be seen as tedious) should be done together. They are tasks that allow us to share space and time while working side-by-side, talking, listening, and just being. This is how friendship is nurtured. This is how love grows.
Spending time together, sharing space together, and working on the same task together are foundational to building a strong marriage. These repeated, and necessary every-day moments of life, open up opportunities to talk, laugh, joke, and share the adventures of the day. Doing things together that you only do with family (household chores, yard work, budgeting, vacationing, sharing physical affection, eating, etc) is what creates the dynamic of family-life as we know it. And as we love it. We really wouldn't have it any other way now, would we? Okay, so maybe take-out once in a while is awesome, too.
As you begin to look for the meaning in the ordinary, you will find that these everyday moments are magical. This will happen because "happily ever after," will most-likely be found, for your marriage and for mine, in the normal, everyday, ordinary moments we share together.
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“A great marriage isn’t something that just happens; it’s something that must be created.”
- Fawn Weaver
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