“I looked up, and I didn’t just see my husband. I saw him.”
My husband worked long hours running his own restaurant, so our morning typically started with me seeing him leave for the day. Then it ended with him having only been home for what seemed like a short time before bedtimes were required. We had four children, the youngest not even four months old, so as you can imagine they demanded much of our energies.
It wasn’t unheard of for me to still have my hands full by the time he came home, and often times he strolled in the door while I was still stirring our supper. He’d throw his bag down, the kids would surround him, all talking at once, and I might think where’s my kiss? But lately I’d been so busy I might not even wonder.
We were two people overwhelmed. We were both working, just in different ways. We were both worn out, spread thin, and distracted by so much commotion. It got to where our attention was so focused on the duties we were required or the never-ending tasks at hand that we lost sight of one another.
Then when you think you can’t possibly factor in one more thing, well, you factor in one more thing. Cars break down, you say yes to helping out a friend, and before you know it your plate is no longer full; it’s actually overflowing.
So what takes a backseat to life when pressure ups its ante? Where do you relax your focus when more attention is required elsewhere? Does your comfortable relationship wait on a shelf for its turn in line?
It’s so easy as a parent to know that your children require your time, but it’s harder as a spouse to remember that your partner needs your attention too. You end up unwittingly existing in a work relationship with your mate, relying heavily on their contribution, but neglecting to feed their emotional hunger. Yet even the hottest fire still requires stoking.
That thought came to my mind as I fixed plates for hungry little tummies. I looked up, and I didn’t just see my husband. I saw him. I saw that he needed me too. Just as I needed him. And sometimes in this hurried, chaotic thing we called life a timeout was required.
I stopped in the ebb and flow, that flurry of kitchen activity, and I drew him into my arms. I hugged my husband, and as I sank into his embrace it felt like home. I remembered how much I loved to live right there. Had I forgotten?
“I love your hugs,” I whispered in his ear, and at that time we both surrendered to the moment. All else faded away, and we opened ourselves fully to the embrace. I enjoyed the feel of his strong arms around me, and he in turn soaked up the particular way I fit just right against his chest.
In all the responsibilities, busyness, and demands, we took a time out. In the midst of chattering children, simmering stew, and tinkling text tones we stopped time, even if just for a moment. We stopped everything and took inventory of each other. It was overdue.
It’s easy to become comfortably complacent in established relationships and forget that even the most understanding of unions requires finesse and attention to detail. Everyone wants to be noticed and feel appreciated, not just needed.
And sometimes you have to take a timeout in your marriage so as to better see the one you’re standing beside.