Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Bigger Picture: Why I Date My Spouse

I sincerely believe one of the best gifts I can give my children is a strong marriage. Dating is not an option, once married. It is essential. To step away from children and chores and house and work and look each other in the eye and remember what caused the first spark: that is mandatory. Besides, it's also fun!

Equally important, though less frequent, are longer times spent away. A night, or two or three.

One week ago, Mitchell and Megan were already at camp, so Robb and I dropped Madison off at Grandma and Grandpa's and headed north. Just the two of us. We found the AG Thomson House to be a perfect bed and breakfast for our little getaway. I can't imagine better hosts. (We got hugged when we left!) Breakfast was delish. (Seriously, check out the menu and recipes!) All the little extras added up to the. best. time. ever.

We visited Gooseberry Falls briefly. Well, we planned to visit briefly. Our quick stop was extended when Robb locked the keys in the van. Thankfully we noticed right away, and could explore while we waited for AAA to show up. Thank goodness for our AAA Gold membership!

Throughout our three days together, I pondered previous trips we've taken. In younger years, we may not have handled this little hiccup well. One of the key changes we've made is making dates a priority. If we wait too long, don't tend the fire, the pressure mounts and all expectations are laid on one short weekend. But a few days cannot make up for years or even weeks of neglect. The littlest thing can ruin a wonderful time when our expectations are high and our hearts are distant.

Thankfully we laid no burden on this trip. It was for fun, for relaxation. Not for Disney fairy tale romance.  Because those expectations were not our focus, and we had no dating deficit we were scrambling to reduce, we could just enjoy each moment for what is was, not wishing for something different, something more, something deep.

On our way up to Split Rock Lighthouse, we encountered some road construction, but we hardly noticed. I was busy reading the history of the murder at Glensheen mansion to Robb in preparation of our tour there the next day. Morbid? Maybe. Fascinating? Definitely! Romantic? Doubtful. Memorable? Yes!

The next day, after our extended tour of Glensheen, we meandered through Canal Park, shared boneless buffalo wings and salad at Grandma's, shopped, ate ice cream that dripped down my fingers into a puddle on the sidewalk, and watched three ships come (sailing in, come sailing in....ahem) and go under the lift bridge to the harbor. At times we walked hand in hand.

That evening we climbed aboard this:

For a two and a half tour. First, as we cruised through the harbor, we had dinner with a side of sunset. 

Then we made our way out through the natural inlet, along the shore of Duluth after sundown, and under the lift bridge. I took lots of pictures. We kissed on the bow deck.

Lake Superior was the calmest I've seen.

And so went our trip. Lovely. Calm. Restful. Fun.

I am so thankful to be at this place in our marriage. We've seen the typical storms and turbulent waters that come with two becoming one. At the altar we became one in Word. In name. These last 12 years have grown us up and into each other. Selfishness, increasingly, laid aside. Our hearts, unified. The waters, calmed.

We are more one as we draw out the good and call out the bad, one's strength complimenting the other's weakness. All the time reaching for each other.

When we take time to grow into each other and together into Christ, laying expectations down, romance is not forced.

It blossoms all on its own.

 Front patio at AG Thomson House

Sharing a  Bigger Picture Moment, this week at Maegan's place