It is a little quieter in the Taylor house these days. Our daughters are both getting older and doing their own things. Addison is busy at college and Delaney is busy as well, with her junior year, enough said, right?!. My husband, Kaycee, and I have found ourselves with a little more time on our hands as we are not having to do as much for the girls. The obligations of dividing and conquering to get it all done seem to be thinning, disappearing slowly and consistently like fog lifting. Though we knew this time was coming it seemed to hit us suddenly. In truth it has been a long gradual release of our daughter’s into the world of responsibility and a slow, intentional process for us to prepare them. But now that is has started, it feels like it is too soon, probably not for them (insert teenage eye roll), but most definitely for Kaycee and I.
Recently, there have been days where I have come home and found myself a bit lost, wandering and wondering what I should be doing… time, it seems, is something that I have not had any “extra” of for a long time. Sure I could fill it with more work (house, school, yard, etc.), or more exercise, more volunteering or cleaning (yuck) but instead Kaycee and I have decided to fill it with intentional dating. We are trying to circle back to each other, to connect like we used to when we were younger and had more time. See here’s the rub, we love each other, in fact we really like one another too, but over the years we have become a bit lax, complacent, comfortable and less creative with the ways in which we approach our love/like of each other. We knew our love was always going to be there and that we could count on it but we did not give it any extra attention. This new found time, however, has shone a light into the neglected corners of our courting practices.
While Kaycee and I are not trying to “catch or get or convince” one another like in the beginning of our relationship we are trying to find those commonalities, interests, and excitement in the things we like to share and do together. For the past 19 child raising years we have been happily absorbed into the activities of the girls and what they liked to do or whatever programming they had…. that was what drove our daily, weekly, yearly schedule. We loved it. Being parents and supporting their interests was what we had signed up for in the beginning and we will continue to do so. But now as our daughters continue to grow away from the daily family routine and branch out into their own big, beautiful, independent lives, Kaycee and I are left to find new interests of our own and rekindle interests of our’s from years past.
Truth be told, we were never one of those couples that felt we could afford date nights. Being a stay at home mom and educators our finances were limited to necessities. Yes, I know our relationship was and is a necessity but we chose to stay at home with the girls most of the time. Our nights typically were spent whole family. We were proud of our commitment to nightly family sit-down dinners and looked forward to our family time together. This was something that Kaycee and I planned even before we had kids. Before the girls came along, we intentionally talked about the things that were important to us from our childhood and what we wanted to bring to our family once it began. Honestly, I will miss this regular nightly connection with our girls… in fact this thought alone brings tears to my eyes knowing that our new normal will not include them daily to share in all the small moments. I recognize that now the time spent with our girls will be the kind that we look forward to; cherished and even seen as a little bittersweet because of the time spent apart.
With this discovery of time Kaycee and I now plan a weekly date night, alternating between weeks. Sometimes it’s just an hour; phones down, distractions limited. Happy hour tends to be our go to but sometimes it is a walk in a park, a stroll through a bookstore, a movie, or dinner. We are also trying to plan weekend getaways every quarter where we go overnight somewhere to rest and recharge, free from the distractions of regular life and work for 24-48 hours. We are intentionally seeking ways to surprise and plan something the other would really enjoy, to bring back some of the sparkle, freshness and unexpectedness of dating. It has been fun. It takes time and effort and we can become distracted from this goal and fall back into the ease of not “dating” but we are are relying on each other to hold the other partner accountable.
Please understand, I love the comfortable routine of our years together. I adore that I can count on Kaycee to be there always and usually know exactly what to expect in any given situation. I love that I can glance at him and easily read his mood, whether he got enough sleep, had a good/bad day, if he has energy to make dinner or if I need to step in. Like many couples, we have developed a way to communicate with each other without even talking. We can laugh together over things from the past, our shared history, family stories, and inside jokes from the last 26 years. I can count on him to recall the end of a story I may forget or help fill in the details of a story we can tell better together. We have been married for 22 years, not all easy, not all good, but all hard fought and beautiful because we were in it together. Our vows, like many other couples vows, stated, “For better or for worse” (been there done that), “For richer or for poorer”, (check), “In sickness or in health”, (unfortunately, walked this path too much). We have lived by these promises to each other even in the hardest of times.
Over the past few years we have had more hard times than the easy, for sure. This has taught us a bit about living fully, taking in each day and trying to find joy in the simplest things. Now that the stressors of a major health crisis are dwindling we are working hard to be the best versions of ourselves, together and individually. This is beneficial for all involved: us as a couple, ourselves individually, our family and for those we interact with everyday. We are exploring new places physically, mentally, and emotionally. We are sharing new experiences and remembering all that we have accomplished together while looking forward to what we can create and experience in the future.
We are entering this new season of life intentionally. I use that word, intentionally, because we are active in this goal. We are thinking, planning, discussing and sharing our needs and wants for our new found time. This dating process is not a passive experience. We are not just letting time go by while life rolls along as per usual. We are working together, seeking out opportunities to learn and grow, involving ourselves in our own lives and recognizing challenges or roadblocks in order to reframe and refocus our individual needs and our needs as a couple. The truth is we are in this together. The end goal is something that we are both fighting for. We are not opponents, we are the fiercest of allies. The goal is to enter this next exciting phase or chapter of life with zest and grit, to bring forth as much love, laughter and affection as possible, together.
An although, like many, when we got married we though, “Whew, no more dating!”, I challenge us instead with a new vow… “Date your partner like there is no tomorrow. Say how you feel everyday. Be honest about your needs and feelings. Work as hard as you did in the beginning. Show them the creativity, the spontaneity, and all the fresh exciting love in your heart, everyday.”
Cheers to the next season of life!