We had one of those rooms in our house. It was supposedly the “recreation room.” The TV was in there, hooked up to the Wii along with some beanbags and comfy chairs. And junk, lots and lots of junk. You know how some people have a junk drawer? Well, this was our junk room.
So, the room sat collecting dust. Every once in awhile the kids would brave the junk to play Wii but, for the most part they just watched Netflix on the iPad and eschewed the room all together. Sometimes it is just easier to walk around and ignore all the junk in the room than to try and take a project like that on.
Marriage can become a little bit like that too. Sometimes the junk is good stuff like, oh, three kids. How about me homeschooling and working a part time job? How about my husband’s crazy impossible job as an elementary school principal? There are days where he leaves the house at 6:30 and like last night; I didn’t see him until after 9pm (parent teacher conferences). Oh and let’s not forget about kid activities like swimming and dance. And, church activities too.
And then, there are the not so pleasant things. For two years I spent much of my free time with my mother due to her cancer. Now, we take care of our father. All of these things take up time, energy and space and have affected our entire family.
One of my friends recently described her marriage with the “two ships passing in the night” metaphor. That is exactly how my marriage feels most days and I know I am not alone in this. Sometimes you only have so much control over how all these events play out on your life – in your relationships. Sometimes though, I feel like these things affect our relationship way too much.
You see we actually have a really good and supportive relationship. When we have the time we can still talk for hours, saving the world each time (hey, two educators together, it’s always about saving the world). We spend much of our time together laughing to the point that I usually feel like I have to pee. We solve problems together and trust me; we have had a lot of problems to solve in the last three years due to unforeseen events. But, we are lacking two very vital things – Time and Space.
That brings me back to that room. When you homeschool – its hard to get a break at all. I am an introvert too and I need my alone time. Some nights I would find myself in that room after everyone had gone to bed, feeling finally alone and quiet but surrounded by junk. Then it hit me, in a very “room of one’s own,” Virginia Woolf sort of way – that I should reclaim the rec room as my own. My own kid free zone was my original intention.
Once I got in there and started working at it, I realized the only way to accomplish this switch was to turn it into a bedroom/retreat room. There was plenty of room for our bed set and a great spot to create a sitting area. And hey, the biggest closets in the whole house were down there. So, I told my husband that we were moving into the basement. He looked at me like I was crazy; “You mean we are going to give up our room upstairs for a room with a concrete floor, with a window that is probably not even code?” “Of course” I gleefully told him. So, he suggested we install carpet and it was a done deal.
We had finally gotten “real” bedroom furniture from my parents when they moved into a condo. Parents of young children and newly weds should be acquainted with the whole “not real furniture” concept. You know its like “not real food.” It comes in a box that you buy off of a shelf in a store and assemble it according to directions provided. As you move around and add babies, your rooms start to take on every variation of particleboard feasible (honey, oak, cherry, black, white, pink, etc).
I was absolutely holding my ground that we needed “real” furniture in the sitting area too. It almost felt frivolous – purchasing furniture for an area that was only intended for us while our guests would still be assaulted with the mix of particleboard upstairs. But, I insisted and the first real furniture in our house created a cozy sitting area just for us.
Next came the house rules. Our children were used to going into any room they wanted, whether to find us or to play. This was the first time that we ever barred entry to a place in our home. Don’t get me wrong; it is currently the coziest room in the house. On those lazy afternoons where a history documentary sounds like the best course of action, you will see me and the kids all snuggled up down there. However, no food or drink is allowed. Shoes have to come off. And, when mommy says – time to leave, they have to leave no questions asked. They also have to gain permission to enter the room. Really, what this gave us was privacy like we had never had before.
Now that this room has been in existence for a few months, it occurred to me that what I had inadvertently done with this seeming illogical decision was to create sacred space for us – for our marriage. For the first time ever, I had a physical manifestation of just how important our marriage was in our lives – for our whole family. It has become a space that honors our life together and keeps us focused on each other – keeping distraction at bay. Like that whole idea that if you want to change on the outside, you first have to start on the inside – it follows that we absolutely redecorated the most important space in our house. Do you have a sacred space for your marriage?
Now the issue of finding time in our marriage– that will have to be an entire other blog post.