Finding the Non-Routine Things

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We have been at marriage therapy for about a year, now only going to appointments once a month as a check-in.  Now heading toward four years since Nelle died, and nearly two years since our rainbow baby was born, it feels like we have worked through the heavy stuff and are just “fine tuning the top” as our therapist likes to say.

Ger said recently that he feels disconnected from me, and when we dug deeper into that, it was more that many of our conversations are around the mundane parts of life: what do we have going on this weekend?  Are you taking the kids to swimming lessons or am I?  Did you add diapers to the shopping list?  We talk all the time – daily – but so much of it is about the routine ebb and flow of our lives.

I told the therapist that we go on lunch dates, and we take walks together several days a week, but she pointed out that even those have become part of our “routine.”  She suggested that we find ways to do something completely different – like go skydiving (hard no for me – I’m terrified of heights) or take a dance class.

She then ran over to her desk and pulled out a piece of paper that she handed to us.  It was a list of questions – five per week, over the course of five weeks – designed to get people talking about the good things in their marriage.  She wanted us to write down the answer to the first one on the spot and share it with her:  I am genuinely fond of my partner.  List one characteristic you find endearing or lovable.

She made Ger share first.  He said that he loves how smart I am.  That he could tell how smart I was from when we first met, and that he enjoys talking to me about all kinds of topics.  That not everyone gets to see it, but he does.

Our therapist was delighted and asked me, “Did you know what he felt that way?”  I told her that actually, I did know, and was bursting to read what I had written about Ger: “He is curious and smart.  Likes to learn new things and talk about them – things that are happening in the world, things that he has read.  I like to have these types of conversations with him when we take walks.”

It was almost poetic: that the quality we admire most in each other is exactly the same.

And a few days later, I did swallow my fear of heights a bit.  Our older kids were in Arizona with my parents, and we only had Autumn.  We took the elevator to the top of the John Hancock building in Chicago for the Skydeck Tour.  We walked around the perimeter of the floor-to-ceiling glass and admired the city from every angle.  Not quite a date, since we had one kid in tow, but close enough.