James and I have a really awesome marriage counselor that we initially saw for premarital counseling, but we’ve definitely seen him more since the big day. It’s something we are thankful for because let’s be honest – what did we really have to say about marriage before we were married?! Doesn’t every couple just assume they are going to be the picture-perfect couple with homemade meals, clean kitchens, and Pinterest houses? You know that couple… the husband comes home with his brief case in one hand and the mail in the other, joyfully singing “honey, I’m homeee,” as he is greeted by his put-together wife in an apron, with banana bread cooking in the oven.
So yeah – you can stop reading! This is exactly what our marriage looks like. Just like the romance movies that always end at the wedding, this blog is over. Marriage is just as we imagined!
Ha. I’m totally kidding. It’s amazing to be married to my best friend, but it is challenging as well. The best time for counseling is actually now. Now that we know what life together looks like. Now that I know he makes funny noises in his sleep or would rather put his dirty clothes on the floor next to the bed instead of in the laundry hamper. And now that he knows I would probably never cook and eat cereal for every dinner if I could, and I sometimes leave dishes on the drying rack until I am ready to use them again, instead of putting them away.
But I have to tell you, we had a pretty funny moment in counseling a few weeks ago. To catch you up to speed, we spend a good bit of time apart. For starters, I like to have alone time to read and draw. J likes to do boy things like computer games and whatever else boys do. Also I enjoy going to sleep early and waking up early. J, however, is half bat and practically stays up all night. (He would want me to tell you that he is responsible and goes to sleep earlier on nights when he has to work. But seriously on weekends, I think our sleep only overlaps for two or three hours.)
Anyways, this led our counselor to ask us if we actually enjoy spending time together – just the two of us. Not with friends. Not just in the same room, but actually time spent together. “Ha! What! Of course we do!” Of course then I questioned our relationship all night. I think we do. I’m pretty sure we do.
Not kidding… every day for a few weeks, I would ask J multiple times if he was having fun with me.
All this to say, we realized we actually do have to be very intentional about the time we spend together, otherwise we might not even enjoy it. We might miss the joy.
Here’s what we’ve been learning since then- being together and having fun together is not always the same thing. Watching TV together is relaxing and sparks some fun conversations, but it’s not actually having fun together. Doing the dishes and other chores together, even when that time is filled full of J’s commentary and our silly jokes, is not really us having fun together. Yes, I’m thankful that even in the mundane, we can giggle and tease each other, but we’ve had to really reflect and identify some ways we can have true fun together.
For example, every night we walk around the neighborhood, just the two of us – okay three because Tuck would pout forever if we left him at home. During this time, though, we just talk and giggle and sometimes watch the sunset. The unbearable South Carolina summer hasn’t hit yet, so the evening temperature is paired with a perfect breeze. Our walk gives us time to learn about each other’s heart. It’s a time to reflect on the day we had or the days to come. It’s a time to discuss our quiet time with the Lord or for J to answer all of my questions about life (if you know me, you know this list is endless). Some days, I’ll admit, I take these walks for granted. It’s easy to go through the motions and not even realize how much I really enjoy them. But on nights like we’ve had recently, where the rain keeps us inside, I miss these moments. So I would encourage you to ask yourself – are there seemingly mundane moments in your days that you’re not appreciating like you should?
There is fun to be had inside too, of course! We recently started a project together. We’re painting J’s old dressers to better match our bedroom, and they had some chips and scratches, so we decided to also take the time to repair those. It has been a good mixture of things we both like to do. J is a problem solver who loves to work with his hands, while I like to paint and also like to do things that give me a sense of accomplishment. This project gives us a change to contribute our ideas and opinions, and it has been one of my favorite things we’ve done. Check back in a month or two to see how many other things I’ve convinced J to repair and paint with me :)
Through all of this time discovering fun together, there has definitely been one thing that stands out. Something that has been extremely fun and valuable for us, which is taking an interest in one another’s hobbies, new projects, and goals. What exactly does that look like in the Burgess household?
For starters, J is a big gamer. From World of Warcraft to Call of Duty, the man is a total nerd. He actually has quite the set up and his own room in the house – you know away from all the distractions of the real world. Lately, though, I have been really impressed with his passion towards gaming. Not only has it been his way to connect with “the boys” during quarantine, but he also has finally begun his longtime goal of streaming. Apparently gamers like to watch videos of other gamers playing games. It seems pretty silly to me, but I did spend a couple hours this week watching vlogs, so how is it really any different?
Anyways, it has been fun for me to watch J get extra into this gaming life. In the past two weeks, he has put together a new keyboard from a billion tiny pieces and a few cut-up bandaids. It took a bit, but he also got his microphone and video camera up and running smoothly. And he’s worked hard to plan out his platform and gamer image.
So, you may ask, how have we made this something we can do for fun together?
Well, it started off pretty simply. I wanted to help J get his game room looking like he wanted, so I painted him some Mario-themed art pieces. But the thing that really turned this into an “us” thing was when I finally decided to see what all the hype was about. I am not coordinated enough to play the games, but I did watch over 2 hours of the game history of World of Warcraft. I mean, this thing is complex. And people are like…. super passionate about it. When J got home from work that day I got to tell him how much I loved the graphics in Panderia (if my facts are correct, this is an extension or something of the game that was released a few years back). He laughed at me a lot, but now I’m not completely out of the loop! And I think he appreciated me trying to learn.
I am not the only one in our relationship trying to make our own things into “us” things, though. J has not only been such an encouragement with my art and doodling and blogging, but he has even dipped his toes in a bit! Actually, this weekend, we argued over whose turn it was to draw on the iPad. And he asks questions and has even given suggestions about blogging and challenges me to share my artwork. He’s not only a big supporter, but he has been making the time to be engaged with what interests me.
Reflecting on all of this has given me a much greater gratitude for this slow season and the many nights at home. We haven’t had to stop doing the things we love, nor pretend to enjoy things that the other wants to do. Instead, we have just tried to be intentional about understanding the other person and why they choose to spend hours on a hobby or project. And then sometimes, like in this moment right now, I simply choose to do my writing on the futon in his game room instead of in the living room with a closed door between us.
Is there something that you and your spouse have fun doing together? Or maybe there’s something you just enjoy seeing your spouse get so passionate about? Please share these with us!
And yes, to our counselor and anyone else wondering, we do enjoy spending time together – just the two of us.