I know y’all opened up this post hoping for a juicy tidbit of suburban scandal. Prepare to be disappointed:
Yes I am dating.
But I am dating my husband.
We are thirty-five years old and we are just NOW getting the hang of “dating” each other. We have been “together” since we fell madly in love many moons ago girating on a ratty old couch to J Lo and Ja Rule. I simply could not resist his bleached blonde, Eminem-like, spiky hair once we locked eyes across a smoke-filled frat house living room. From those initial alcohol induced moments our budding romance moved along at warp speed.
We spent each and every second together, partying, studying, and hanging out with friends. We became friends, lived together, got jobs, moved into apartments, moved into houses , and moved around. We had four kids, saw less and less of each other, resented each other, recommitted ourselves to each other, worked on ourselves, worked on together, had some more kids, got a dog, fell apart and rebuilt…
All within the span of about fifteen years.
Do you know what we didn’t do during those fifteen years?
We never dated.
We “hung out” “hooked up” and “did things with other couples” but we didn’t ever date each other. There was no getting dressed up and anxiously waiting to get picked up at the door for an evening out because those younger years were our broke college years. Neither of us minded though, we were having fun and enjoying each other’s company. We got married straight out of college and our wedding was a bonified party because that is what happens when you get married in your early twenties. Kids followed shortly after. We went to prenatal appointments together, kids’ birthday parties and school events, but still we didn’t really date. A few times a year we managed a holiday party or anniversary dinner out, but these unicorn evenings were few and far between. Unfortunately for us, probably due to the lack of dating practice, these nights usually ended in soaring expectations of wild sex and bellies full of booze and food. Of course fights and hangovers followed and the rare date nights faded out even more with intense work schedules and the addition of twin girls rounding out our total number of children to four.
Still we didn’t seem to mind the extinction of together time because we literally had no time to think. We have spent ten years in “go mode” and I think that perhaps somewhere in the middle of this mode your brain turns certain parts of emotional consciousness off.
Then about six months back we hit a marital wall. I suppose that after so many years of sub-par communication and emotions locked into survival cruise control it wasn’t exactly a surprise that we found ourselves sitting on the couch having a coming-to-Jesus talk about where we were and where we were headed. We needed to air out our years of pent up grievances and lay out our needs simply, clearly and concisely. Because we didn’t spend those formative years talking and communicating, (Lord knows we spent it doing all sorts of other things) we maybe missed the whole “know what your partner wants” component. So yes there was hurt, tears, feelings of betrayal and resentment and all sorts of other things that you never really imagine yourself feeling when you fall in love at the tender age of nineteen. But like a couple of middle aged Phoenixes we seemed to rise from the ashes and rebuild our marriage.