When I was writing for the Journal of Christian Coaching I had the chance to share some thoughts on spending time together as couples...this article is timeless...Make Time, Make Friends and Make Out. What are you waiting for?
“Hola, Senorita! Hola, Senor! ¿Hay algo que puedo conseguir para usted?
Is there something I can get for you today?”
We smile at him from our poolside perch, and peruse the swim up bar menu. Nachos with guacamole, chicken quesadillas, club sandwich or just plain old chips and salsa, they all sound good but what we really want isn’t listed on the menu. I close the menu and offer it back to our own personal waiter who will continue to carefully monitor our needs for the rest of the week.
“No, gracias, quizá más adelante.”
No thank you, maybe later.
He nods in understanding, and disappears into the sea of poolside umbrellas.
Grant settles onto his chaise while I pull my hat a little lower on my face. I dig into my tote and pull out my Ipod, dialing up my favorite playlist. It’s early, the sun just beginning to peek through the bands of palm trees offering a warmth that my weary soul has been craving for weeks. I mentally banish the images of my overflowing inbox and the nagging suspicion that I’ve left the freezer door open, and instead join Sade in singing Smooth Operator.
“Honey,” I whisper across the chaise, to my husband who is reclined beneath the umbrella. He opens one eye and grunts sleepily.
“This is exactly what we needed,” I say and kiss him gently on the nose. He winks at me, then covers his face with his hat and almost immediately begins to snore. Hoping for rest, reconnection and relaxation, this trip was something we had looked forward to for months.
You might be thinking, “Well, there’s no way we can get away for a whole week.” Or, “I’d just be happy with a weekend, or even an afternoon.” I can certainly relate to those sentiments, and while we waited for our treasured Mexican siesta, we found ways to break away, if only for an hour.
For as long as Grant and I have been married, almost 19 years now, we’ve tried sometimes with success and sometimes without, to make time to be together. Before kids it was easier, but when kids arrived, our coveted “together time” became our coveted “alone time”. Honestly there were days when as much as we wanted to go on a date, we were both so exhausted that we just wanted to be left alone. I’m smiling now as I think about those days. They were crazy, but made less so by the babysitting co-op we eventually joined with three other families. That little group changed our lives. We found ourselves on three of four Friday evenings able to get a little R&R while the kids played with their friends for the evening. Did we feel like going out every single chance we could? Nope, not every time, but more often than not, making the effort always paid off. On these extra effort nights, we’d order take out and then come home to our own couch, and DVD player, and snuggle up. Making time, even when you don’t feel like it, even when maybe you would rather be irritated or angry about something, really makes all the difference. Usually at the end of those nights we’d go to bed smiling.
I love the term, “Favorite Friend” and use it with Grant all the time. He is my “Favorite Friend” and sometimes when we’ve been running in different directions, he with traveling and me with kid activities, we disconnect and lose the focus on our friendship. We were friends first, before we were anything else. As we endeavor to make time, it helps us to make friends with each other again.
When was the last time you actually sat across from the dinner table and could have a conversation with your mate without being interrupted or better yet, when was the last time you actually sat at the dinner table together? How long has it been since you played together, laughed together, or just sat on your patio and held hands? These are the things we forget that connected us to begin with. Think about the activities you did together when you were first getting to know each other and then see if there is room for any of those things in your life today. Grant and I are about to learn to country dance because it sounds like fun, will help us be friends and will most definitely give us something to laugh about. It will take effort, but our friendship is worth it.
Alright men, before you read any further you should know in a woman’s mind there isn’t a whole lot of room for “Making Out” unless you’ve “Made Time” and “Made Friends” with her first. If you’re hoping to be intimate with your sweetheart any time soon, and I’m talking about the kind of intimacy that harkens back to your early married days when every time she walked into the room you wanted to swing her over your shoulder and traipse back down the hall from whence she came, you may want to consider the order in which you go about taking a break with her. Making Time and Making Friends do certainly help lead her to Making Out, but be careful here. Before you move to the Making Out phase, please do some romancing, some pursuing and some plain old fashioned wooing.
And ladies, before you start nodding your heads thinking to yourselves, “Yep, that’s what I’m talking about,” you may want to consider a shower and a little makeup before the love of your life walks in the door. As much as he loves you in your natural state, he will definitely appreciate the time you took to clean yourself up. He’ll think you did it for him…and he’ll notice. I promise.
Grant gets home tonight after being away for an entire week. I can’t wait to make time, make friends and yes, make out.
Allison Johnson is the founder of Resurrectedgirl Personal Development Coaching and is the author of Waking Up in the Middle of Nowhere. She lives with her husband Grant and her two children in Rockwall, Texas.
I want to tell you a little bit about moving or at least my experience with it. You know that feeling right before you pull off a band aid that’s been stuck to your skin for a few days? You hesitate just for a minute because you know pulling it off quickly will hurt, but if you tug slowly it will hurt even more. For us this time it was fast with the pain coming in a flash. I still can’t make sense of it, except to know that it wasn’t up to me and I’m really okay with that.
A few months before we got the official announcement that we were going to move, the winds of change were already blowing through our house. For whatever reason I just had a sense that something was about to happen so when Grant came home in February last year from his sales meeting and told me his boss wanted us to move I was not surprised. We looked at each other and tried to make a decision about how and when to do it and instead decided to try and push it off. We weren’t ready, nor were we interested in yanking our kids from their home and their friends. And yet the feeling never left…I knew it was coming.
And then one Friday morning in April Grant came to me as I was typing away on my novel and all he had to do was look at me and I knew. It was time. Within a few weeks our house was listed, and within a day of the sign going in the yard it was sold. The band aid had been ripped off and I think honestly it took a little bit of my skin with it.
I won’t lie to you, even though I felt confident it was the right time and we were excited, we were also scared or maybe even a little terrified. At least I was.
We didn’t tell Zach and Kayla, not for a few weeks. They watched us toil around painting walls, fixing sprinklers and cleaning out closets and never asked a question. It was hard to keep it from them, until it wasn’t and we sat down one Sunday morning and told them we were going to have an adventure which included leaving the only home they remembered behind. Needless to say they were not initially excited about this adventure. But by the grace of God they followed our lead, listened to our prayers and trudged along with us into the unknown.
I’m happy to say that my worst fears have not come true. Within days of arriving we met some people who have become great friends, and they introduced us to their friends who are now our friends too. Zach and Kayla have been blessed with some great kids and have also gotten plugged into small discipleship groups with amazing Christian leaders. Grant is happy to see his co-workers at the office, and I just started tennis lessons with a new friend. Life is good and we are happy and incredibly thankful to the angels God sent who bought our house. They will forever be that to me…angels who God sent at the perfect time.
Looking back I wasn’t sure I wanted the band aid to be ripped off so quickly. I wondered if it would be better to linger, to think about it more, to just tug a little at a time so that we would have time to catch our breath, get our bearings and know for sure where we were headed. But in the midst of not knowing what to do, God did. When we weren’t sure what to say to Zach and Kayla somehow the words came. Even in my worst parenting moments there was a common thread that we were in this together. United, unified…a family, one. I love that.
I’ve spent the last seven months watching my children navigate new school systems, new teachers, new friends, and new activities. Everything is new to them. There have been tears and words of frustration. There have been victories and challenges and yet they settle into their beds every night asking me to pray over them, seeking the very same comfort that I seek. Every morning they get up go to school, heading into this world of new, this place, and this unknown. I’m proud of them. They amaze me.
I’ve watched Grant navigate new routines at work. Create the beginnings of what I know will be an oasis in our back yard and never forget to hug me and kiss me and listen when I’m feeling sad or unsure. I’ve watched him comfort our children, talk them through their fears with wonder and continue to be amazed by this man who never, ever gives up.
And I’ve watched God bring me through heartache with relationship challenges, knowing that my focus has been on getting the family settled and He’s provided me with moments of wisdom and is teaching me to not take myself so seriously. I’m learning that in so many ways this move wasn’t just about the change in geography but so much more. We are restored, united, unified…a family, one. And so much more.
I'm wondering if you've found yourself in a situation where you never expected you'd be and yet you know even though it might be scary that it's what's right and good. Exactly where you should be. I'm wondering if you find yourself right now, looking, seeking, wondering where you're headed next and perhaps are perplexed, lost even...unsure of what to do.
If that's you I'll not simplify it or waste your time with useless tips on how to get through. But I will say this to you, for me it comes down to one simple word that carries me through, especially seasons like what we've just experienced.
What carries you?
Are We Safe?
"When it rains, it pours!" Everyone knows the expression...which is typically translated to mean, "The crap has hit the fan, and I'm catching the brunt of it." Sometimes it just feels like we're hit by a run of bad luck. (Oops, Christians aren't supposed to say "luck.") You know what I mean.
Over the last week, both our cars had to be taken to the shop. During the same time, we called in a repairman to take a look at our hot water heater. The deck was stacked for it to "pour," right? But guess what? It didn't.
In fact, this unlikely scenario played out in such a way that I felt uncommonly blessed and cared for by God. I was convinced that the transmission had gone out on the old car. Again. And that it would cost me two grand to replace it. Instead, it was a bad wire that cost $100. At the same time, the new(ish) car had inexplicably stalled and wouldn't restart. The good news? It stalled safely in the mall parking lot. My neighbor just happened to be home and available to take me to pick up the other car at the shop so I could pick up Kellie and the kids. The roadside service (which I had let expire) was able to be renewed and used on the spot. And it was just a defective battery which was still under warranty. $0. Oh...and the hot water heater that I feared was kaput re-lit and was perfectly fine.
OK, so it doesn't always play out this way. I know. I get it. About the same time I was juggling all these small potatoes, I learned that cancer had returned for a relative who only has six months left to live. And the question I found myself mulling is this: How safe are we in this world really?