Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Joined at the hip? Not a chance, and it works just fine.
A couple of months ago, I was getting ready to go to the grocery store, and my husband was getting ready to do something else. My 15-year-old stepson ascended the stairs from his cavernous lair (otherwise known as the Man Cave, where his bed, his X-Box and cases of Mountain Dew live), shielded his eyes from the 1 p.m. "morning" sunshine, and asked, "Why don't you guys ever go to the store together?"
Well, for starters, until the new Hy-Vee came along, going to the grocery store wasn't fun. Neither my husband nor I enjoyed it, so I tended to slog through the big weekly trips while he handled the quick stops for dog food or paper towels. Dividing and conquering works well for us in many areas of life, and that's one of them ... and I had never really thought much about our way of doing things until Logan asked.
But then I started thinking about his question. Did he see his dad and me as not together enough? Did his mom and stepdad or friends' parents hang out together more? It's true: Kevin and I have never been joined at the hip. We married later in life, after we already had children and careers and interests. We're each pretty independent anyway, and our time alone had made us even more so. So by the time we decided to tie the knot, our lives and interests and activities were already in place.
That's not to say we didn't -- or we don't -- enjoy our time with one another. Kevin is probably one of the funniest people I know, and we enjoy some of the same things and have really great talks. But do we need to spend every waking moment together? Heavens, no. I don't want to spend every waking moment with anybody.
One of my best friends is most comfortable being with her husband nearly all the time. They shop for groceries together. They run errands together. They have the same hobbies. Similarly, a guy at work can't seem to function without near-constant time with his wife. More power to them, as their relationships really seem to work.
But then, we go to restaurants and we see this: couples our age or maybe a little older, sitting across from one another with nothing to say, looking bored and irritated. Couples who have run out of things to talk about.
Kevin and I don't run out of conversation. We both have jobs that are at least somewhat interesting to the other person, and our favorite separate pastimes are creative ones: I write. He builds things. We're both devoted to our children, and similarly obsessed with our dog. We agree about politics, morals, ethics -- all the big things. And as I mentioned, he makes me laugh. Hard.
Along with my children, he got me through my dad's illness and death. I like to think I was able to offer him some comfort when he lost his dad. He's been there for quite a few surgeries, and he even, as I've noted, once caught my vomit in a basin in midair and didn't even flinch.
I went to Europe without him; I went to the State Fair without him. I sure as heck go to the grocery store without him. He often goes to see family in Illinois without me. But when I'm the one who's been gone and I walk in the door after time apart, I'm really, really happy to see him. He represents "home" to me.
And I think it's pretty unlikely that anyone will ever catch us at Perkins glaring at each other across the table with nothing to say.