Why Married Couples Need Their “Thing”!

Many days, my husband and I are truly like ships passing in the night—though I swore years ago, when I was at least a decade younger and a lifetime dumber, that it would never be.   “He would come in from working the night shift, eat, shower, then get some sleep to do it all over again.  Then, just about the time he’d be waking up, it would be my turn to leave for work—ships passing,” she said.  By she, I’m referring to the great grandmother of a little boy I used to provide care for; she’d tell me stories as I sat with the child in their house.

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Typically, I loved to hear her speak and tell me things about how she grew up and of when she was a much younger girl: this story was different.  It put me in the mind of how married couples become strangers, or roomates living in the same house.  At that time, I was a newly-wed and fresh in love, so I hoped her reality wouldn’t prove true for me.

Nevertheless, as fate would have it, life has a way of giving you a type of understanding that you never asked for, but that it knows you desperately need.

For the first six years of our marriage, Des and I worked “in house”.  I assisted him in running a group home for troubled boys and with an apartment right off of the common living area, our commute to “work” was less than a full ten steps.  To say we were together nearly 24 hours a day would not be a stretch by any means, but it was a closeness that was good.   Already comfortable in each other’s company and being many miles from our family and friends, we had to rely on each other for everything; it created an impenetrable bond between us as lovers and as friends, but it wasn’t long before everything changed.

After completing his Master’s degree, we moved to another city and into our own home—The dynamic switched: while I stayed back and tended to the kids, for the first time since we’d been married, Des left the house for work. Moreover, in order to continue on that path, he worked long hours and always kept multiple jobs.  Now, to relay what that has looked like in laymen’s terms—extremely long nights and many husband free days—the very epitome of what Great Grandma had said to me years earlier.

What’s shocking however–what I wouldn’t have believed even if she had tried to explain it, is how much closeness can be felt even between passing ships; how in those brief moments when their paths get wonderfully parallel, two people can appreciate so much.  Maybe it’s because its dark and in darkness you must be on ultra alert—noticing and experiencing with more than just your eyes, but with your mind and your heart.  It could also be because the pass by goes quickly—you know every moment you don’t savour is one that you’ll miss!

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It’s been nearly 16 years since I heard Granny’s dreadful story and nearly a decade since Des and I have been playing  the “passing ship” game; one of the ways we work around it is by having “our things”.  On those rare occasions when the two of us are free at the same time, we sneak away and do something with just us two—usually they’re simple tasks, like taking a walk, catching up on a television series we love, or laying up on a weekend morning until past noon!  When I tell you, those simple gestures are pure magic, I mean that every bit—we look forward to and relish those moments, because they’re at the same time rare and inevitably fleeting.  Just like people, they come only to enhance us, but with no illusions that they’ll stay.

One day, if I’m fortunate enough to grow old, I’ll be sitting in Great Granny’s shoes: then, possibly to some young girl, or maybe my daughters, I’ll be the one talking marriage and love—and just like she did, I’ll liken the both of them to ships.  Then I’ll laugh, but only on the inside, because I know what I know; that if they’re lucky they too will be Grannies, and priceless lessons are passed on this way!

 

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45 thoughts on “Why Married Couples Need Their “Thing”!

  1. My husband is generally gone all week for work, and when he’s home his hours are usually late. So, when we actually get the chance to be together, we’re really good at doing just that. Even if I want to read a book and he wants to watch a show, we do it in the same room next to each other. When we’re running around putting kids to bed, we text to each other so we can make plans to meet up when all the tucking in is done. It’s just what we do. And we’re better for it. Great post!

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    1. I think you and your husband are our married twins, LOL. We text each other too in the house, to meet up in the house, to hang out!!! My husband works ridiculous hours as well, so I know just what you mean by really being together when you finally get that chance. Thanks for making my heart smile with camaraderie!

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  2. Absolutely thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It was like you are telling my story. We are also in the midst of two ships passing in the night. And those few moments that were in sync is magic.

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  3. Your message is so sweet but also super encouraging. There’s this busy season in which we live-work,kids, house, repeat that needs “our thing” to keep up close. Thank you for these words. I needed them today!

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  4. Great post!! It can be so difficult making time for each other with how hectic life can be! I love what you said about how it doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Sometimes just going for a 20 min walk and catching up on each other’s days can be a great way to connect!

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    1. OMG– yes– simple! Its sad how many couples forgo doing anything because they don’t have the time or maybe can’t afford to do anything big. The little things, repeated over and over, are what makes relationships last. Thank you

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  5. I love this! With a two-year-old and two busy careers we are definitely “passing ships” Monday-Friday. We’ve had to take care to schedule regular date nights and casual lunches on days I’m working from home to keep up our closeness. And, while it is whole family time, having breakfast and dinner together almost daily helps us stay connected too. We almost let it slip away while our two-year-old was under the age of one, but we realized it enough time to repair the damage that had been done and to start moving our relationship forward again. It’s so important!

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    1. I’m glad you guys didn’t let that train run off the track completely, but instead got things back on track. That will happen a million times as you two are married, just remember the recipe you used before– it always works!

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  6. This was such a captivating piece to read – pretty rare in the blog world these days. Thank you for sharing this insight. My favorite line: “how much closeness can be felt even between passing ships” caused me to reflect on the different seasons of life and how there is so much to be gained from them even if we can’t understand it while we’re in the thick of it.

    My husband and I are sort of there right now. While we’re lucky that he gets to leave the office at 5PM, having a baby definitely limits the amount of “free” time we have. We work hard to connect every day and try to find that special time even in something mundane like talking while cleaning the kitchen together after the baby is in bed.

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    1. Awwww, your comment literally made me chuckle in a good way, because I remember those times when the babies were small and we were able to find a connection even over something as mundane as doing chores! In fact, I think its those type of moments that make you closer– it’s being in the trenches together and weeding your way out that prepares you for all the other things to come. Keep up the good work mama and thank you so much for your compliment!

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  7. Its so true that time needs to be made. My husband and I are almost 3 years married and have a toddler, so we need to continue to make sure we do our best to have our time (our thing). Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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    1. Thank you. Sometimes I wish I could just bush a button or flip a switch to slow things down, but unfortunately I can’t. The best I or anyone can do is manage our time the best we can and make sure to include time for our spouse. I’m a work in progress of course!

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    1. Hey, keep trying and don’t give up. Also, it doesn’t have to be anything big. Reading at night (even if he’s on the computer) is even a start. Keep it simple and don’t discount the small moments– they add up!

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  8. Really loved this post! My husband and I are newly married but somehow having two kids and working 9-5 wasn’t really helping our relationship! But we make the effort and actually make the time to at least enjoy a meal, or an episode of our favourite show or just spend time with each other every night after the kids go to bed. Yes, kids are the priority right now but after they are old enough it will be just me and my husband again so it is important to keep that relationship as perfect as possible.

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    1. Absolutely! Kids and work have a way of drawing a wedge if we’re not careful. But, you’re right, after long, it’ll just be us (kids will be gone) and what we have then will depend on all we put into our marriages now!

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  9. It is so nice to hear about how to keep things positive and strong in a relationship, it seems so often people just complain about their relationships. It is totally important for couples to find their thing.

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    1. It is important and something that too many couples miss. The husband has his thing, the wife, hers, but they neglect to have that something they do together. More marriages could be happier if couples would implement this.

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  10. I remember an older friend talking about how she and her husband no longer cuddled at night. Newly married it was inconceivable to me at the time. Now of course, with 4 kids, I am more interested in getting enough sleep. It doesn’t mean our love is less, in fact we now have a much deeper love. But I do miss it sometimes.

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    1. What you said!!!!! LOL Isn’t funny how much scares us in the beginning only to become par for the course later. Strong marriages are built on so much more than cuddles– but you’re right– they sure are nice!

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  11. My husband works late hours, too. It can be very hard and lonely. We definitely have our “things” though, and I have to remind myself to cherish those moments that we get to spend together.

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  12. You’re such a talented, descriptive writer. I was able to picture your granny telling you the story of passing ships, along with your own tale of the same story. I’m not married (yet), and I’m in that “24/7” life with my fiance, but I’m sure there will come a time when we will be like ships merely passing each other.

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    1. Thank you so much for the compliment. As for whether it will happen to you and your guy, only time will tell. As long as you remember it’s only a phase and that seasons change, I’m sure you two will be fine if it does!

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  13. This post gave me the chills! I am in my first year of marriage and hope my husband and I can work hard to not become these “ships passing.” I think our thing right now is travel planning! We always take a 2-3 week vacation around the holidays, and we spend the whole year leading up to it planning, which makes it so much more fun 🙂 I think making time for each other, even in just the simple things is so important. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Hey, I love what you and your husband are doing! I’m a planner so planning anything and then having the anticipation to go with it I know has to be fun! As for the ships passing thing– it does sound scary doesn’t it? That’s exactly what I felt when the grandmother told the story to me, complete dread. But let me say this, life happens and things change– just remember to hold on to each other, don’t forget the little things, and never stop doing things together that the two of you love. I have no doubt that you two will be great!

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  14. Fantastic post. It is important to have our own thing. I often feel that my partner and I are a bit codependent and I forget that it feels so good to reconnect once we return from doing our own thing.

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  15. Really lovely post! Sadly, my parents spent their last few years as roommates. I think my mom regrets it because he passed suddenly and unexpectedly. It really highlights that you never know how long you have left, so you have to make the most of every opportunity!

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    1. How unfortunate, though I’m sure they still loved each other very much. I know a couple who lives like that now and though it looks unappealing to me, they seem to get along fine. For those of us who want more than that, however, it’s important that we do what we can to circumvent that fate, because you’re right– nothing about life or time is guaranteed.

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    1. Martyrdom parenting— I love this term! I can be honest and say I definitely lived this way for many years and was actually encouraged to do so by many people. I had to give myself permission to say no to the kids and say yes to spending time with my husband. I realize all of us are much better off when we do!

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