It’s been said, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In the beginning of my marriage, my wife and I thought absence was when one of us took a shower. We spent most waking moments together. We held hands, we snuggled, and we watched the same television shows. She thought my jokes were funny and I didn’t mind her cooking.
By year 2, we both realized our love for one another had nothing to do with our proximity to each other or how much time we spent together (my wife also realized I’m not as funny as I think I am and I realized she really wasn’t that good of a cook).
So we both began doing things on our own (a day trip, hang out with friends, golfing…we weren’t going on European hiking excursions alone). It would be hard for my heart to grow fonder of my wife but the times we did things on our own made us both realize how much we truly loved being together when we returned. What we also realized, for the sake and health of our marriage, it was not only good, but necessary, to get the hell away from each other from time to time.
But finding time to be absent can be hard when you’re married, not to mention married and with kids (like walking on a wire across two skyscrapers while blindfolded and lit on fire hard). You have to take your time when you can. It is cathartic whether it’s for an hour or two, or a trip to the drug store, or if you’re lucky enough to have a wife who planned a mid-week weekend at the beach with her best friend.
My wife and her best friend Becky are going to Ocean City, NJ from Tuesday until Friday. My wife is taking our girls and Becky is taking her girls. One last getaway before school starts and some old fashioned BFF bonding. I know the kids are looking forward to going away because they haven’t slept for the past week. I’m fairly sure my wife is excited to get away too (she’s been packing for the past week). It will be a good opportunity for her heart to stock up on some fondness.
I was getting changed, praying the kids would fall asleep, and my wife was packing. She and the kids were heading to Ocean City in the morning. We weren’t talking, not because I did anything to make her mad at me, but because we were both entrenched in the matters at hand. Her with trying to fit the four drawers in her dresser into 3 bags and me with trying to find a shirt to wear that didn’t smell.
“Are you going to miss me?” My wife has a way of cutting the silence…with an axe.
“Miss you? No.” You would think after 12 years of marriage I would know how to answer questions like these.
“Real nice. Thanks a lot.” If there hadn’t been 7 shirts and 3 pairs of pants on top of the shoes she just packed, I’m sure one would have gone toward my head.
“No. Now just wait. Of course I’m going to miss you. It’s just…” I couldn’t stop at ‘…going to miss you’ could I? No.
“Just what Romeo?” I think I saw her hand slip under the clothing and grab the heel of a shoe.
“It’s just that it will be nice to have some time alone.” I took my natural defense position by squinting my eyes and cowering back a bit from her.
“I guess it will but that doesn’t mean I won’t miss you.” Could it be my beloved wife felt the same way as I did? “You jerk!” Not quite.
“Alicia, of course I am going to miss you and I’m going to miss the girls. That’s why I’m going to keep myself occupied doing all sorts of fun stuff without you.”
“You’re one more word away from missing the bed because you’ll be sleeping on the sofa.” Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘As serious as a heart attack’? It applies to this situation right now.
“Don’t get mad, I’m kidding. I’ll miss you. I just don’t think I’m going to be curled up in the fetal position waiting for you to come home.” Honesty is the best policy…even at the risk of sleeping on the sofa.
“Look, you’re going to be having a great time. You won’t have time to think about missing me.”
“Yes I will.”
“Well, I do have that effect on women.”
“Don’t push it.”
“You should be excited to get away from me. I’m planning on not showering for the next few days anyway.”
“I am excited. I know it’s going to be great to be at the beach with the girls and Becky. And you are gross so there is that too.” I felt compelled to remind her that she agreed to marry me despite my inherent grossness but decided against it.
“See? I told you. Besides, you know what they say about absence right?”
“I know. It makes the heart grow fonder. Too bad it doesn’t make your jokes funnier.” Everyone is a comedian in my family.
“It hasn’t made your cooking any better either.” Two can play that game.
“Now that I think about it…maybe I won’t miss you all that much.”
As this post is published, my wife and kids have been in Ocean City less than 24 hours. In that time, I got home from work late, couldn’t find a pair of my shorts, had cereal for dinner, forgot to feed the fish, and I had no hugs or kisses goodnight from my daughters.
God I miss them.