People are prone to memory lapse, some more so than others. We misplace the car keys, need GPS to find our mobile devices and leave sunglasses everywhere but on our face. But in our marriages, we often forget something even more important – the people we were before life moved into fifth gear.
It felt like once my husband and I were outnumbered by kids and deluged by work stress and ministry, a shadow personality started to emerge in full force. It wasn’t an obvious body snatching, but rather a subtle transformation amidst a haze of snotty noses, interrupted sleep and a leaky church roof.
Slowly, we lost the best parts of our personality to survival mode. It wasn’t intentional, but it was there in the unspoken sighs and the little comments like, “Remember our Honeymoon?” Translation: “Remember when you used to be fun?
Getting Lost In The Busy
When my hardworking pastor husband suggested we take a much needed vacation to the Caribbean, it felt like the clouds of hurry and busy parted for a brief moment. I pictured myself lounging on a white sand beach with a frothy umbrella drink in hand, watching my hubby frolic in an azure sea. My eyes glazed over as I wiped the drool from my mouth.
“Okay,” I said, faking nonchalance, “When do we leave?” Deep down, buried under layers and layers of stress, I vaguely remembered the whimsical and frisky girl my husband fell for. Immediately, I started planning what to pack.
I was shaking in my flip-flops with excitement as we boarded the massive cruise ship in Miami. We found our balcony stateroom and threw open the doors to watch the ship slowly pull out of port. I caught my husband’s eye and he gave me a shy smile. Now I knew the expectations of this retreat. My husband’s idea of vacation is unlimited intimacy (though that might shock those who think pastors are celibate), while my idea of vacation is unlimited rest. But I figured somewhere in between the yawns and negligees, we could find a nice compromise.
A funny thing happens when a woman cuts the cord from her kids, even for just a short period of time. Without the backpack of motherhood weighing me down, I literally felt lighter. My spirit rejoiced in being with my husband and the walls which often separated us began to crumble. When I glanced over at him, he didn’t look like he had a sex agenda; he looked relaxed, handsome and content to simply be with his wife and go on an adventure.
All of a sudden, a wave of appreciation rolled over my heart. I saw my husband’s love for what it is – tender and gracious. I saw adoration in his eyes. My heart turned a corner and leapt with joy and longing for the man I promised to cherish through thick and thin. He didn’t know then what the glimmer in my eye meant, but he quickly learned to enjoy naptime.
It took a few days to really let loose and relax. It had been a tough year. Ministry work was hard, our church was changing and many of the dreams we hoped to realize had hit the pause button. But the spark between us had been rekindled, allowing us to truly connect one-on-one. We felt more united than ever, ready to face the onslaught of life and all its challenges.
Dressing up for dinner, flirting with each other and lingering over decadent meals gave us plenty of time to get back in sync both emotionally and physically. It was date night every night as we watched the ocean waves roll by while demolishing five course meals with gusto. And my appetite grew as much for the delicious food as it did to reconnect with my husband.
We zip lined through a rainforest, rode a speedboat in Belize through water as clear as glass, and played with the dolphins in Cozumel. I had the time of my life; every day was a new daring adventure to share with each other and remember over a glass of wine at night.
It’s not that everything was fixed in our marriage overnight by a little sun, fun and sexual healing (we still bickered occasionally). But vacation afforded us the opportunity and uninterrupted time to do more than scratch the relational surface. We were able to dig deeper on the bigger issues. There were old hurts, misunderstandings and emotional band-aids that needed to be ripped off and dealt with.
The very best part of our vacation is private, though I can say we both had stupid smiles plastered on our face weeks later. But more importantly, I learned a few things from our Carribean cruise that I don’t want to forget.
Gaining Perspective From A Distance
I discovered my husband’s overwhelming need for intimacy is not an issue in our marriage. The issue is the busyness in life that becomes overwhelming and makes even good things, like intimacy, a chore.
I also need to remember the man I married – and the woman he proposed to – still exists, even during stress and extreme exhaustion. Sometimes I just need a little time to remember my identity when the darkness of life turns my light into a mere shadow.
And sadly, I had almost forgotten what it felt like to just be me; without a baby pulling on my leg, cheer practice, writing deadlines or my son’s never-ending pile of athletic paraphernalia needing to laundered. I’m so glad my husband loves me enough to help me remember that the girl he married is just a vacation away.