Monday, January 15, 2007

Comfort vs Connection


Allow me to make a brief interlude and depart from our New York trip long enough to share my weekend with you. This, by all of my standards, should have been a crappy weekend. Jeremiah had call on Saturday, and Saturday call drains the life out of your entire weekend. Friday night you have to go to bed early since you have to be at work with the sun the next morning. Saturday and Saturday night you're at the hospital, and Sunday you're post-call and recovering. Jeremiah had Saturday call last weekend too, and it is safe to say that I was feeling a little depressed about the prospect of another weekend without him. I tried to make a plan for a fun (but early) Friday night, and my plans were reduced from dinner and a movie with a babysitter TO a sick baby with 103 fever and a husband who got called (from home) into a last-minute surgery that kept him at the hospital until 7. Things were really looking up!

On top of the ominous weekend forecast, I've been feeling a bit disconnected. You hear wives make comments like, "We just aren't connecting," or "something is missing." Usually these comments are followed by dumbfounded husbands who don't have any clue what that something is and don't understand why they can't ever do anything right by their wives. Chances are that even if your wife/girlfriend has never made one of the above statements, she probably has suggested a romantic dinner or a weekend getaway for two, because she is on a quest to feel that connection. Ashley (Wood) expressed this dichotomy by saying she believes that God has given women the ability to feel the pulse of a relationship in a way that men can't, and I think she is right. When that pulse is strong, we are happy and thriving, but when it is weak it echoes in our heart and begs us to nurse it back to health.

Jeremiah and I have definitely had some of these weak pulse moments, even when we've been very comfortable with each other. For us, this means that I know that Jeremiah only wants his coffee cup 1/2 full because discipline tells him that he shouldn't need more than that in the morning, or he likes Splenda on all of his cereal except Lucky Charms, or when he's been on call he likes to eat a hot meal afterwards, or he likes his sandwiches cut in 1/2, or he likes to have a cookie when we eat Subway because it feels like a fun surprise at the end, or he likes to un-tuck the covers when he gets in bed so that his feet don't feel trapped, or a million other little nuances that you just know when you spend time with a person and you love them enough to pay attention. While knowing all of these things can make you feel comfortable, just knowing them still doesn't make you feel like you connect. Connecting is in the subtleties.

I think that Jan Struther caught the spirit of these subtleties in her book Mrs. Miniver when she writes, "It seemed to her sometimes that the most important thing about marriage was not a home or children or a remedy against sin, but simply there always being an eye to catch." And that is just it. You can't simply know someone's idiosyncrasies to connect with them, you each have to know you know them. This means catching each other's eye when we go to a restaurant and the waitress refills his 1/2 cup of coffee. Or giving me a kiss on the cheek when I lay the Splenda beside his cereal bowl. Or being willing to show his excitement when I remember to tuck the cookie surprise at the bottom of his Subway bag. Or being wearily grateful when he comes home post-call and I've made pancakes instead of pouring the cold bowl of cereal he requested. You see in long relationships, like marriage, you can start to take for granted that you work together like clockwork. You can stop acknowledging the inside jokes and stop appreciating the little things that keep you ticking along in harmony. However, when you do, a piece of that mystical connection is dissolved.

So this weekend, that should have been miserable by definition, was really marvelous when we were together. We appreciated each other; we connected through our comfort. We really hung out, had inside jokes, and were our happiest selves together. It didn't take a romantic dinner for two or a weekend getaway to make that pulse come back...sometimes God just makes things work without our help.

2 comments:

Chris said...

Very interesting, and most likely true, but it might be the case that men feel the pulse of the relationship too, but just don't want to deal with it. However, what do i know about relationships. Haha. Good writing as always abby.

Jessica said...

Abby... wow, I think you missed your calling. You are a fabulous writer and it is crazy how I "fall into your words" as I read them. This post really hits home because as I begin to venture on my journey in to a marriage filled with love, I have the words you just wrote to look forward to and I can't wait!