After thinking a lot about that question we both agreed that it depends on the season.
Of course we want face-to-face interaction all the time.
We want it to be the norm.
But that's just not realistic 100% of the time.
When you have a family with children tugging on your pant legs or another one needing uninterrupted help with homework.
When there is a very demanding season at work.
When life is life and won't slow down.
When the necessary to-do's continue to pile up.
When friends and family are in crisis.
When your teenager is in the far country.
When sleep is short and days are long.
All of these things interrupt the face-to-face time that is necessary for a healthy marriage.
After Josh and I woke up from a difficult night of taxing responsibilities we finished another typical morning marathon of packing lunches, feeding a Colony a dozen and a half eggs (and two boxes of cereal...and oatmeal and toast and...these little humans would NEVER stop eating if we didn't make them!) for breakfast, and making sure all of these Colony kids were properly dressed in cold weather attire (because we WILL get notes home from teachers), Josh wearily looked at me and said, "Babe, we're in a shoulder-to-shoulder season." Then he kissed me gently while saying his 'I love you's' and smiled as he grabbed his keys and walked out the door to go to work.
Our shoulder-to-shoulder looks something like this lately:
Josh is knee deep in his doctorate program, we have begun the holiday season, the kids are about to track out (which means end of quarter and holiday activities at school), not to mention the holiday scurry at Journey as we prepare for Christmas services and activities. Oh yeah, and we have 5 kids...and 6 chickens...and extended family...and friends who we love...all dealing with their own things...
But just because we are in a shoulder-to-shoulder season doesn't mean that it has to be spent doing things separately.
Here are a few things that keep Josh and I on the same page, even when we are tag-teaming life, activities, projects, kids and even discipline.
- Keep Communicating - Sit down and go over a busy week (or day, or season) ahead of time. I know for me, if Josh is going to have late meetings, rehearsals or school work, I am much more respectful of his demanding schedule if I know what to expect. If I am going to need extra help with the kid's school activities, or homework I need to let Josh know what I am expecting of him. How are we ever going to know what each other needs unless we communicate our expectations to each other. Reminding each other that we are on the same team, all along the way.
- Stay Connected - this means exactly what you think it does;) Make sure you are intentionally still being intimate. Don't allow a busy, hectic, or stressful season keep you from being with each other. There is something irreplaceable about this kind of connection. Schedule it in if you need to, but make it happen!
- Find Time To Laugh (or at least smile) - It's completely okay to laugh about the dinner that got burned because you forgot the sweet potato fries baking in the oven (which has NEVER happened to me) or browning ground beef on the burner (nope, not spoken from experience) or boiling rice on the stove (ok, so maybe I have a problem
being distractedmultitasking while cooking)...lighten up a little bit and get those endorphins pumping. Sometimes the only way to make it through a stressful time is to try not to make the not-so-important things...not so important. Because there will be plenty of time for seriousness during a shoulder-to-shoulder season without you crying over spilled milk (literally).
- Parent Together - Keep each other up to speed on the kids so consequences will be consistent, highlights will be praised and so the kids know that mom and dad are in this together. Don't allow them to play you against each other during this season.
- BONUS: For goodness sakes, grab each other's butts every once in a while! A simple little squeeze goes a long ways. Oh, and make sure your kids see it, because if they can see that mom and dad are still okay, then they know that life is going to be okay, even when they can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Plus it'll initiate the long-awaited eye contact you've been waiting for and maybe even a smile or giggle.
Shoulder-to-shoulder seasons aren't the most fun to be in the middle of, but make the most of them and remind each other that you are in fact, in this together, even if you don't get to do each part of it together. And that "this too shall pass."