The other evening Andy phoned me on his way home from work: “You want to go out tonight? Maybe get a burger for dinner?” I looked at the casserole bubbling away in the slow cooker: my mouth was already watering.  I thought about the cold wind blowing outside. And I said, “Yes!” How many times do I get asked out on a date?
I wondered if Andy had been reading Spouse Time on the Australian Catholic Families blog. But he couldn’t have. He never visits the blogosphere. He keeps well away.  Perhaps there is a wife out there busily revealing all her family’s secrets. He doesn’t want to know.
The kids wanted to know where we were going.
“Out.”
“Where?”
 “We’re going on a date.”
“A date? When will you be back?”
 “We’ll be back when you see us.”
Our kids are worse than parents!
With a regretful look at the casserole being spooned onto the kids’ plates, I followed Andy out the door.
The burger was average. The sauce dripped down my fingers and everything was so mushy but it didn’t matter: I was out with my husband.
Spouse time is essential and I know we don’t get enough of it. But I don’t really think going for a burger is the ideal way to spend time with one’s beloved. But what else could we do together?
I think about what we used to do years ago when we were younger and sillier, when we were childless and our time was our own. We’d dress up and spend Saturday nights yelling (in order to be heard) at each other in some semi-dark night club and re-emerge with our ears buzzing. Tottering home on my high heels, I’d declare I’d had a wonderful time.
When we were first married we were poor. We didn’t even have enough spare money for a mushy burger. We’d go grocery shopping with a calculator in hand to avoid an embarrassing situation at the check-out. We also could only buy as much food as we could carry as our finances didn’t stretch to running a car. I guess our shared leisure time was spent watching TV (a rented one).
Later, we inherited a second hand video player. Wow! That was exciting. I tell our kids about how miraculous it seemed to be able to choose a movie and watch it in our own home, rewind it and watch it again. They look bemused: was there ever a time when videos weren’t around?
Spouse time quite often turned into couple time when we’d get together with other young married people and share frugal dinners, a bottle of cheap wine and a rented movie.
Then spouse time turned into family time with the arrival of our children. And for many years we didn’t have the opportunity to go anywhere by ourselves.
When I was pregnant with our third child, Andy won a weekend away for two. My beautiful childless sister Barbie and her husband insisted on having our two children for the weekend so we could escape to the mountains for a rest. We settled into our motel room, laughed together over the electric massaging bed (which we daren’t turn on) , went for a gentle walk or two, talked about the kids, talked some more about the kids and then came home early to find my heroic sister utterly exhausted by  the strain of looking after two children who wouldn’t go to sleep.
When our eldest child got to about 14 or so, our life changed. All of a sudden we were able to go out again with only the baby in tow. We’d sip cappuccinos while our baby soaked up the admiring compliments and smiles from our fellow coffee drinkers who’d assumed she was our one and only. When we revealed we’d left the rest of our brood at home, we received horrified looks which quite amused me.
Now we have enough big kids in the house to go out together any time we like. So getting the opportunity for spouse time is not an issue. But what should we do together? There is only so much coffee we can drink and so many cafes we can try out while we’re drinking it. And really going out to eat on a regular basis can be costly to the figure.
We have tried exercising together. Many years ago we’d have regular very serious games of squash. That was until the night Andy whacked his racquet across my face with all his force. He apologised profusely and insisted it was an accident but I’m sure I was just about to win the game at the time… One hospital trip and a few stitches later, I declared I‘d lost interest in squash.
We tried power walking together which was very enjoyable for a time until we got too competitive. Then it was, “You’re walking too fast!” or “Come on! You’re holding me back.”
So we tried some indoor spouse time when the kids weren’t around. We decided to read together, a sort of husband and wife book club. We’ve worked our way through quite a few books from Plato to parenting books to religious ones. We choose a book and Andy reads a chapter out loud and then we discuss it together. We both enjoy this kind of spouse time.  It’s a bit like Leanne’s morning coffee habit. We extended this by taking our book up to the village café and enjoying a good cup of coffee at the same time.
Recently, we heard a very good talk by a priest on the subject of marriage and about growing in holiness together. The priest said that it is essential married couples spend time together in prayer which we do…. except there is usually a string of kids kneeling with us as we recite the prayers. Perhaps we should take up the priest’s suggestion of saying some prayers together by our bedside at night, as we review the blessings and trials of each day. If only we could decide on a mutually agreeable time to retire…
I love spending time with Andy. I like going places with him. I want to hear his ideas and thoughts, his hopes and fears.  He is my favourite person to be with. He is my husband and my best friend.
But what shall we share? What could we talk about? Where shall we go? What should we do together?
Any suggestions gratefully received. Please share your own spouse time stories.
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  1. This morning Steve and I took Joseph out for a walk. It was great to spend some time alone with him. (yes I consider time with Steve and Joseph alone with him).

    We pray together about twice a week. I would like to pray together a bit more but we just don't seem to find the time. We pray with the children every night.

    My favourite prayer with Steve is putting on some taize music and sitting by candlelight. We usually sit in the quiet and talk with God. Some times we turn the music down and pray the rosary or talk about something we may be struggling with but mostly we just sit in the quiet and spend time together with God.

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  2. You have inspired me, Therese. Some quiet time with some beautiful music, a candle and maybe the rosary - sounds good. We do this with the kids but maybe we need to do this alone too. Thank you for stopping and sharing. God bless!

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  3. Hi Sue, yes spouse time is so important. I have married the opposite of me and we find it a challenge to spend time doing what we both want.

    We had a date night last night since our son went to a Norwegian Festival in Wisconsin and spent the night with his friend and family. My husband and I went to church and then to dinner. That's our typical routine even though he would like to stop for a drink. I'm not a fan of that anymore. It was fine when we were younger and could sleep in the next day but now... I feel too old to do that. I will do that on occasion but I'm only doing it for him. And he's not a big fan of going out dinner but he does it for me :)

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  4. Sue, I came across the blogging for Jesus blog ring and noticed you had commented on there already. Did you fill out that form from ringsurf? It seemed unusual that I would have to fill out that form.

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  5. Yes, Noreen going to Mass together is a great idea. Andy and I used to do that some mornings when we lived in town and it fitted in with his work. Then we'd have a cup of coffee.

    I guess it's all a compromise when we enjoy different things. Your husband sounds wonderful taking you out to dinner. It's funny how things change as we get older. I could not even imagine going to a night club these days and I find it hard to believe I actually enjoyed those evenings out with Andy. Surely it would have been more fun to have spent in a place where we could actually hear each other!

    I joined the Blogging for Jesus ring through Mary who has "The Beautiful Gate" blog. I just followed the link from Mary's blog and yes, I had to fill out a ringsurf form. It took ages to find 1000 characters to describe my blog! Do you already belong to ringsurf? Perhaps you wouldn't need to fill in the form, only describe your blog. I don't really know. It would be nice to be in the same ring! God bless.

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  6. Hi Sue,

    No, I do not belong to ringsurf and I hesitated to sign up because I'm not sure why it's necessary? I link up with No Ordinary Blog Hop and L.A.C.E. and I didn't need to sign up.

    I would like to participate though so I guess I will have to but I will struggle with finding 1000 characters to describe my blog. :) This is where not being a writer is tricky!

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  7. Sue,
    I laughed when I read the part about your sister babysitting the kids and being totally exhausted when the two of you returned. Before people have children they are clueless to the amount of energy it takes to care for them. I certainly was clueless and I only have one! I really enjoyed your story about you and your husband. My sister and I both have young kids so we alternate babysitting on Saturday nights so each of us gets a date night with our husbands every other weekend. Works out great!

    I noticed Noreen's comment. The Ringsurf form is simple to fill out. No one has to be fussy about the thousand characters. Tell her she can just tell a bit about her blog and if it doesn't take up 1000 characters she can write "I love praying the Rosary" or "Our Lady, pray for us" and stuff like that as many times as it takes to fill it up. I really don't think they are all that picky and it would certainly be unique :)

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  8. Mary, thank you so much for your comment. You are so fortunate having a sister who lives close. I would love to have my sisters down the road so we could share our lives more intimately and help each other out like you and your sister do.

    My sister Barbie is now the proud mother of three big sons and looking after two little ones wouldn't worry her at all thse days! I am so grateful she was brave enough to volunteer to look after our children all those years ago.

    I wonder what you do on your date nights.

    Thank you for the extra info about Ringsurf for Noreen. I will pass it on if she doesn't see your comment. I just love all the connections we are making in the blogging world. It is wonderful to visit a blog and see a friend has already been there and left a comment. God bless!

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