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Challenge: Romance After Kids

Sometimes date nights just aren't enough

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A decade together,

seven years married.

Two pregnancies,

one child,

a home,

a dog,

laughs,

kisses,

fights,

grief,

bills,

love,

sex,

US.

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After all of it we remain, but not as the same people we were before. I look back at wedding pictures and see our fresh faces: hopeful, naïve, unsure of what lay ahead. I look at our faces now and at first glance think "good Lord, what happened to us?!" But I know the answer to that: LIFE happened, in all its glorious ups and downs.

I see laugh lines from the joy,

creases from the pain,

and tired eyes from the journey.

But the trade-off is that behind our eyes there's a depth and richness now that wasn't there before. It's something I can't quite put words to but lies behind that look we give each other every now and then--a look we weren’t capable of giving each other back then. It feels like some combination of "I can't believe you're still here" and...

I can't believe I'M still here

and

look at everything we've made in this life together

and

I’m a little weary but a lot grateful."

We think when we're young that we'll get married, buy a house, have x number of kids…and then our dreams fast forward to when we’re old and gray together, skipping over the years in the messy middle. And that's where we are right now, riding through these not-so-glamorous years of hectic parenting and work life that seem to go by in a flash yet stretch on for miles. And in these long stretches between landmarks and milestones, if you’re not careful, you’ll start to pass each other by. These are the years where the scenery can become distracting and it's all too easy to simply throw on the cruise control and coast.

So you start to look at ways to make the journey fresh and exciting again and people tell you things like "make each other a priority" and "carve out time for date nights regularly". But I'm here to tell you after ten years and a five year-old together that ninety minutes at Carrabba's once a month isn't enough to keep the fire burning in a relationship. Sometimes you've got to do a little more; you've got to get out of your comfort zone and do something outside of your normal routine.

This picture you see here is us doing just that. We’re not doing anything crazy like bungee jumping or parachuting out of a plane; actually, we're just ON a plane. (Yes, for me, this in itself was a wild adventure!) This was me simply making good on a promise to put my fear of flying and leaving our boy aside for the sake of something greater--for the sake of reconnection. This was me, tired in so many ways. Yes, physically tired, but also tired of letting fear, stress, and the mundane always take the driver’s seat.

And that hand you see reaching through to grab mine as we took off? That's my husband's way of saying “thank you” and “I’m still here”. It’s the gentle, solid strength I fell in love with way back when. He could be so over my quirks and anxieties that, to him, probably seem frustrating and irrational. He could say "c'mon, suck it up", but he doesn't. Instead, he just quietly sneaks his hand up between the seats as the engines rev up to let me know he's got my back (like, literally).

Isn't it funny how quickly we forget, yet how quickly we're reminded?

When I say it takes more than the obligatory monthly date night to really reconnect, I don't mean "more" in terms of expense or frequency, just "more" in the sense of what it is you're really yearning for.

Adventure?

Freedom?

Quiet?

Whatever it is you're missing, go after it. Do something or go someplace that makes your forget for a second that you're parents and budget-keepers and remember that you were lovers first.

Shut off the cruise control and take a damn detour together.

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