Back in 2013, our first year of dating, I took a job in Old Orchard Beach, Maine, while Mr. Geek was finishing his senior year of college in Boston, Massachusetts. To this day, this was the season in our lives when I knew Mr. Geek was something special–when I knew I wanted him around forever
Now in 2018, finishing up our first year of marriage, I went back to that job in Old Orchard Beach, Maine to make some extra money. This means I am living in our home away from home during the week and he would be back in Massachusetts. We would see each other on weekends or my days off.
I don’t think this is a coincidence that the same opportunity from our first year of dating was presented in our first year of marriage. Although we are older, wiser, and have grown into the couple we are today, many of the lessons I have learned echo back to that first year of being apart.
Here are 5 things I have learned living away from my husband for 2 months:
#1 Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
2013: Holy hell did I miss that boy! I couldn’t get enough! But back then we didn’t live together–those little irritating pet peeves about each other hadn’t emerged.
2018: Being away from my husband gave me the opportunity to miss him all over again. When you live together, I think it’s very easy to get stuck in the routine and nitpick the little things (like when he leaves his glasses/cups/coffee mug out on the counter and not in the dishwasher or when he makes a huge mess in the kitchen RIGHT AFTER I clean). Taking that time away and the step back allowed me to recognize these stupid little things mean nothing! And why am I even getting upset about it? I was just happy when he was around!
#2 Appreciate everything your spouse does.
2013: I would come home from my summer job and Mr. Geek would have prepared lunch, finished and folded my laundry, and have margaritas mixed for us to head down to the pool for a late afternoon swim. I didn’t even ask! I also took the time to show him how much I appreciated it…in the way many new young couples do…*wink wink*
2018: Living together for the past three years, we have split the duties of our home. We just sort of expect the other to do it. And we don’t even really thank each other for it. It just…gets done. There is beauty in that comfort, but it can also teeter into dangerous territory of feeling taken for granted.
Living away is a nice reminder to appreciate everything we do for each other–even the stuff we don’t ask for.
#3 Date your spouse.
2013: The times we saw each other turned into dates! Knowing the other was coming to town, we would make it a priority to plan something wonderful (and cheap!) We still think of these as some of our favorite dates, like just walking around Boston and $1 draft beers. (Hey, we were broke college students!) After we both lived in the same state again, Wednesday night was Date Night–and we rarely missed Date Night.
2018: Our regular weekly date night got lost after moving in together three years ago. Sure, we’d have a date here and there. But now that I only see Mr. Geek on weekends–and it brought back weekly Date Night! I get out of work on Saturday nights at 7pm, which still gives us time to go out to a late dinner to try a new restaurant, go uptown for cocktails, or even sit out on the beach or campfire at night. It gives us the time to reconnect after being apart for the week.
#4 I’m still one whole person married to another whole person.
2013: We were committed to each other, but we still held on to the sense that maybe (…just maybe!) there was a chance that this didn’t work out. We still had options. We still had opportunities! We still hadn’t become “adults” yet. We were off trying new things, meeting new people, still ready to jump at the chance of a life changing opportunity.
I guess what I’m trying to say is we were still putting ourselves first and fulfilling our needs first. Sure, we cared about the other person–but we just weren’t “there” yet.
2018: Fast forward to the polar opposite: comfortable. I think it’s very common to get stuck in routine–and that routine isn’t very sexy. I am certainly guilty of it! We come home from work, we eat dinner, we do some chores, we watch tv together practically falling asleep, then we go to bed.
Without my comforting partner in crime, I was faced with boredom for the first time in years! (I love our dog and all…but he doesn’t say much.) This left a lot of time for journaling, crafts, reading, visiting with friends, long walks with the dog. Sure, it was tough at first to fill that time but it also allowed me to get back in touch with things I truly enjoy and explore new things. It paved the way for reflecting, prioritizing, and rediscovering what truly makes me happy.
I’m not saying that my husband doesn’t allow for such things when I’m home! However, I think it is very easy–especially for obligers**–for people to abandon their personal expectations for themselves to overextend themselves serving others. This time allowed me to get back to me, as an individual, not the many hats and titles I wear.
But because I started fulfilling my own needs and wants again, in turn I am a better wife–which makes us a better couple.
**What’s an obliger, you ask? Read Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies. Buy it here. This is an affiliate link. When purchasing through these links, you are supporting Creating Chrissy but with no additional cost to you. For more information, please see my Disclosures and Legal page.
#5 I actually like my husband.
2013: Damn, I could not get enough of that hottie! He was funny, sweet, smart, ambitious, charismatic…oh, he was my dreamboat!
2018: Blame this on newlywed bliss–but wouldn’t you believe it?! I still actually enjoy having my husband around! But I didn’t recognize it again until he wasn’t around all the time. He’s still that funny, sweet, smart, ambitious, charismatic dreamboat I met.
Ultimately with this time and reflection, I have noticed I have not been the best wife I can be–and this isn’t even me beating myself up here! The hard truth? I have not been putting my marriage first. In our first year of marriage, I have been allowing our marriage to be swallowed up by career, side jobs, lack of time management, overcommitting, and running myself into the ground so much that I am not showing up for the time we do get to spend together at home.
Those times when we were in a rut? Those times when I wasn’t feeling at my best and sexiest? Those times when I was so exhausted at the idea of spending time together and just wanted to retreat into a mindless binge watching of shows? These are all symptoms of not showing up for myself or my marriage. My priorities were all out of whack this past year
Therefore, BIG CHANGES in the season ahead. Action will be made to make sure my marriage is top priority and setting intentions to be the best version of myself for my husband.
- Cutting back on commitments
- Being intentional with my time and our time
- Keeping up with weekly Date Night
- Remembering those two silly kids just making a relationship work between Boston and the beach…