I looked at him standing there in the evening light. So strong. So handsome. I could hear the waves crashing on the shore and my heart beating in my chest as I crawled between the sheets in our beachside hotel.
He joined me in bed and we began kissing. Softly. Passionately.
I enjoyed the feeling of him next to me. The warmth of his skin. The lightness of his touch. The…..what WAS that? Sand? Was there sand in the bed? I felt tiny granules rubbing into my backside.
I shifted my weight and tried to ignore the gritty substance beneath me. I needed to get my mind back in the game. Focus on the task at hand.
But ewwww! The sand was getting stuck behind my knees. I could feel it mingling with my body heat and rubbing me raw. I had to say something.
“Honey. Honey, stop. Don’t you feel that?” I said.
Disoriented, my husband pulled away. “Stop? Did you say to stop?”
“There is sand in our bed! The maids must not have changed the sheets after the last guest left.” I jumped up and turned on the lights.
Flinging back the covers, I pointed an accusatory finger. “There! Right there!”
Wait a minute.
Peering closely, I realized it was not sand that filled the bedding. It was……black? Small, black crumbs covered the white sheets. What in the world?
And then I realized.
It was my lingerie.
My black lace nighty had disintegrated into a pile of dust.
It had been so long since I had worn my lingerie that it had literally disintegrated off my body.
When my husband and I decided to go away for the weekend and leave our three-year-old son and infant daughter home with grandma, I wanted to bring along something special. I searched everywhere. I shuffled through the nursing bras and the control top panty hose and finally found it in the back corner of my bottom drawer. Aha! My long lost black lace nighty. His favorite one.
Ever since having my second baby, I had been too tired to care about a lot of things: cooking, cleaning, and lingerie to name a few. Between the middle of the night nursings and the colicky crying, my lingerie hadn’t been getting a lot of action lately. But I was determined to change that. This weekend away would be the perfect opportunity to remind my husband of the young girl he had married all those years ago.
Obviously, things did not go as planned.
We called the maid and asked for new bedding. I hid in the bathroom while she changed the sheets, too embarrassed to show my face. We showered to remove the lingerie fragments from our crevices. I threw what remained of my nightgown in the trash. And we laughed at our predicament. What had happened to us? Were we really two old married people whose romantic weekend rendezvous had turned into this?
Yes. This was us now. Instead of leisurely lingerie-filled nights, we had cold showers and laughter. Things had certainly changed over the years. We were no longer the teenagers who stayed up until two o’clock in the morning talking on the phone, whispering so our parents wouldn’t hear. We were no longer the high school students who skipped third period to make out in the parking lot. We were no longer the college freshmen who rushed home from date night at Taco Bell to try to make dorm curfew. We were no longer the starry-eyed newlyweds who thought they would wear lingerie every night for the rest of their lives.
No. We were now the parents of two young children, fixing up our new home, busy with DIY projects on the weekends. Business owners, working long hours in order to make payroll. Tired, overwhelmed, short-tempered some days. Figuring out what marriage really means.
It means loving your spouse even through the dry spells. It means finding joy in the everyday life you have built together. Serving each other in the small things: a cup of coffee in bed, a foot massage while you watch TV, a listening ear and a soft place to land when the world conspires against you. Laughing when your lingerie disintegrates and realizing that lingerie doesn’t matter in the long run. Love matters. Choosing each other over and over again matters.
My husband and I are celebrating twenty years of marriage in May. We added four more children to the mix since the Great Lingerie Debacle of 2005. We have done a lot of life together and let me tell you something – lingerie is not a big part of what makes our marriage successful. What does make our marriage successful?
We don't expect perfection. After all, expectations is preconceived disappointment. We champion each other. We laugh together. We choose to love each other even when, especially when, it is hard. We forgive.
At the end of every day, he is my favorite person to come home to.
Natalie lives in Northern California with her husband and six children. She writes for The Today Show, Huffington Post, Guideposts, and blogs regularly at nataliegwyn.com. Natalie proudly claims the title of World's Okayest Mom as she makes her many mistakes, loves her family in the midst of the chaos, and finds joy in the most unexpected places.