I’ll admit it: like every other newly minted wife, I’ve found several aspects of married life completely surprising. There are so many things that surprise, delight, stress, and frustrate me about marriage. And, of course, there are things that totally didn’t change between John and I once we became Man and Wife. But one thing I’ve struggled with has been putting away my to-do list.
It’s to be expected: we spent over a year planning our wedding and there were constant to-dos. Cake tasting, dress consultations, going to Goodwill every few weeks to find vests for the groomsmen, keep sewing new strands of bunting, address envelopes. We were endlessly busy and the list never got any shorter. And once we were married, the list again seemed long: consolidate our stuff, thank you notes, cell phone plans, get a puppy (note: we never actually did any of this stuff).
But as time went on, our time was suddenly spent doing… nothing. One Sunday, John sat and read for most of the day. I started doing the boring chores– dishes, laundry– and then had a freak out.
“Do you want to do anything?” I asked.
“No.” John didn’t even look up from his page.
“Well, are you bored? You must be bored.”
“I’m not bored, I’m reading,” he said.
“We should go do something,” I begged.
“Why? It’s Sunday, I want to relax.”
“But we’re SO BORING now that we’re married!!” I cried.
I freaked out because, in my mind, if we didn’t have anything on our plate or anything “to do,” we were nothing. We were boring. We had lost that exciting spark of our dating and our engagement. As a married couple, we were less interesting if we didn’t have anything going on– because relaxing is clearly not an interesting option. And even worse– if my husband was bored, that must mean I’m doing something wrong. It was now my duty to entertain him 24/7 and I was supposed to know how he was feeling and what he wanted, even if he didn’t vocalize it.
A few days later, I had a conversation with Stephen, our best friend, and told him how I had been feeling. “That’s what XX (an ex) was like. She always needed to be doing something and I hated it,” he responded.
“Really?” I asked.
“If I want to do something, I’ll do something. Your husband is a big boy, if he gets bored, he’ll do something about it.” I wasn’t sure, but I wanted to believe him.
Fast forward a few more weeks and one of our mutual friends asked how things were going. I said something about us needing an exciting new goal now that the wedding was over. We aren’t rushing to have children, we don’t have the money to travel every month, we aren’t in the market for a house or car (or puppy… darn!). What’s the next step? His response? “Maybe no goal at all. Maybe just enjoying the time you’re spending now.”
Enjoy… the time… we’re spending now. Is that an acceptable goal? Can I put that on a to-do list to check off at a later date? Is filling our days with our everyday lives and not rushing to the next big life experience really okay?
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this concept– that there doesn’t need to be a “next” right now and that we can still be an exciting, interesting couple even though we’re married with no major goal in our lives. Learning to let go of my death grip on our “to-do” list is something I’m slowly getting used to– and finding pleasure in everyday joys and letting our relationship evolve day by day is a to-do I shouldn’t rush past.
Newlyweds, are you finding life post-wedding to be slower paced? Do you have any new goals for your marriage? Long-married gals, did you rush into the “next” thing as soon as your wedding was over? How do you keep your everyday life exciting?