My kids organized a special weekend away to celebrate both our birthdays. They rented the Presidential Parlor at a local resort. It was amazing. Probably the best suite we’ve ever stayed in and we’ve enjoyed more than a few. It was two stories, 1700 square feet, with a private pool, hot tub, and sauna. The first evening, the kids joined us for dinner then they left us alone for the remainder of the time. As we were preparing the meal, (the suite had its own kitchen, bar and dining room), we laughed and had a great time. Obviously, we cook meals at our house every day. Yet, I can’t remember a time when we last spent the meal prep enjoying each other’s company. Usually, we all have a piece of electronics in front of us dividing our time and attention.
After dinner, I flicked on the fireplace and we all sat around talking. There were four armchairs all facing a center ottoman. It was a cool set up. We each took a chair and plopped our feet on the ottoman while we discussed a myriad of topics and had a great time.
As we sat there, I started wondering how I could arrange our furniture to achieve the same effect. We have three fireplaces at home, yet I can’t remember a single time we sat around one as a family and just talked. The wheels began to turn.
The aftereffects of Hurricane Dolores began to kick up and the kids returned to their respective homes leaving us to our adult activities. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and the wee hours of the morning. While we were catching a few hours of sleep, the storm dissipated. We woke to a beautiful morning and decided to eat our breakfast on the patio overlooking the resort pool. The sun was just beginning to peek over the trees and a light breeze made the day very inviting. I pulled a lounge chair into the proper spot to catch a few rays and laid out. My husband was going through the camera seeing if any of the pictures he’d taken the previous evening were keepers
I asked him to lay with me, fully expecting to be told no. He’s a man who always has a full plate. He’s constantly in motion and perpetually working on one project or another. I tried to entice him by moving a lounge beside me, but in the shade. To my surprise, he accepted my suggestion. As he laid on the lounge listening to the birds and sipping his orange juice, he commented on how nice it was to just relax.
We’ve worked hard on our yard. He’s built an arbor area complete with fire pit. We have a hammock area with sling chairs and so forth, in addition to an outdoor fireplace. I’m sure you know where I’m going with this. I can probably count on two hands the number of times we’ve enjoyed it as a family.
I keep coming back to the question of “why”. The resort didn’t have any amenities that we lacked at home…aside from the sauna which we didn’t use anyway. Their kitchen had an island bar with comfier stools than ours, but big deal. Their fireplace offered closer face to face seating, but we can easily see and speak to each other at home. We just don’t. Not very often anyway. So, why were we sitting and visiting there when we don’t at home?
I think I have the answer. Priorities. At home, our day to day lives take precedence. The latest YouTube video or FaceBook post steals our focus. Chores and projects weren’t vying for our attention either. Besides, family isn’t going anywhere. There’s no reason to give undivided attention to something that’s always available.
At the resort, we weren’t distracted. We’d set aside that time for the sole purpose of celebrating with each other.
It reminded me of my marriage fifteen or twenty years ago. We were so busy with our careers, kids and daily events, we didn’t make coming together as husband and wife a priority. Sex was something we squeezed in when the opportunity was available. We loved each other. We simply didn’t make our relationship a priority.
After a time, I grew dissatisfied. I wanted something more, but didn’t know how to achieve this mysterious ‘more’. For a while, I suffered in silence. How could I discuss ‘more’ with my husband when I couldn’t even describe what ‘more’ looked like or felt like. I escaped my reality through romance novels and luckily I came across a book where the characters had the bond I was seeking. Once I could articulate what I needed, I went to him and shared my concerns. To my relief, he was feeling the same way. We began to set aside time, eek out a few minutes here and an hour or so there. We verbalized what we wanted our relationship to be, what our needs and desires were. I couldn’t be happier with what we’ve achieved. I honestly never dreamed it could be this perfect.
Now that the kids are grown and each have their own lives with careers and significant others, we need to adjust. We need to make time as a family a priority.
The Sunday family dinner concept appeals to me. The kids try to stop by on the weekends anyway. Why not have a set time? I think I’ll push my luck and even suggest placing the electronics on mute for a few hours. I know better than to suggest turning them off. My son would surely hyperventilate and I’m not sure my daughter would last long if she couldn’t boot a computer and show us all the cool things that caught her eye during the week.
Tuesday is my son’s birthday and we’ll be having dinner together again. I’ve decided to broach the subject with the family and see if it appeals to anyone else. Wish me luck!