It still means everything

Tuesday is Valentine’s Day, which means absolutely nothing in my marriage because we try really hard not to set each other up for failure.

Spontaneous romance is challenging enough, especially when your teenage kids stay up later than you do. So forced romantic notions on Feb. 14 just feels like a set-up.

The Carpenter and I have entered that phase of marriage where it’s more work than play and I am not afraid to admit that this makes me unhappy.  I thought when the kids got older there would be more “us” time, but that was just one of many lies people told us, like, “one day they’ll be independent,” or my personal favourite, “when they get older, ice time for hockey practices won’t be before 7am on weekends.”

Lies, people, all lies.

My most recent attempt at impromptu romance almost backfired as quickly as I set the fuse.

A rare opportunity presented itself last Thursday night. The kids had plans to be out for a few hours, so I texted the Carpenter a flirtatious invitation to go on a dinner date. He replied immediately with “yes” (he’s no wordsmith). A dinner date on a school night. Imagine that.

Unfortunately, my day unravelled. Home late from work (again), I was dragging the drama of the day with me. When my husband greeted me at the door, instead of a sweet kiss and a pleasant greeting he got a look of exhaustion and bewildered angst. Very sexy.

Immediately, I began to sabotage the date I had planned. I just couldn’t wrap my head around the effort it would take me to go back out that door. I suggested we order a pizza, put our pyjamas on and have a Netflix night. You know, like every other night.

Me, the girl who sent my man a flirty date text was now reneging. Yet I could see a flicker of relief in the Carpenter’s eyes, because he’d been working outside all day in -10C weather and had a two-hour commute, so a relaxed night on the couch in warmth and comfort is a routine he enjoys.

There was a pause, an awkward stand-off about who would cave in first and bear the weight of admitting we would rather choose Netflix over conversation with each other. It’s so easy to make excuses not to make ourselves – our relationship – a priority. We needed to step out of the rut together.

He spoke up first and said, “Let’s go.” We pushed ourselves out the door. It’s what we needed. Dinner in a nearby pub. No interruptions. No mobile phones. Just two great friends sharing a meal. We broke all the rules around not talking about the kids or finances, or even our challenges at work, because we agree that our family and what it takes to keep us afloat are the reasons we are building a dream together. And we’re living it. And it’s not easy. Things change. We’ve changed. But we’ve got a goal – and that goal is still us.

A simple dinner, somewhere free from the distractions of home actually made me feel more at home. It calmed my concerns about us not being connected as a couple. We connect. We have just redefined what that means.

But it still means everything.



Kelly Waterhouse