My partner, Luisa, and I have been together for 22 years. We met when I was 24 and she was 23, which seems so very young when I look back from where we are now.
We were together for nearly 8 years before our first child was born and I often marvel at how much time we had in those days before kids. Our only responsibilities were to our jobs and each other. We could meet after work for a leisurely dinner without worrying about picking up the kids from school and rushing home to put dinner on the table for the family. We could spend quiet evenings reading instead of helping with homework and reliving the horrors of high school math. Weekends were completely open for a hike or a movie rather than driving to distant suburbs for soccer games.
I took my time alone with my partner for granted then. Now I am learning that we have to make time for each other separate from our kids.
It's getting easier to carve out time together as they get older, because we no longer have to rely on a babysitter. We can go out for drinks with friends or grab a meal together spontaneously and we are starting to do that more often.
A couple months ago, while planning our kids’ trip to their grandparents’ house, my partner suggested we go away for the weekend while the kids were gone and I was all for it.
But soon we started to worry. What if our flight is delayed and we’re not back in time to pick them up? Shouldn't we save the money for a family trip? Eventually, we set our worries aside and booked a ticket for me to join her in Washington D.C., tacking two extra days to her work-related trip. We realized we hadn’t taken a trip together alone in five years.
So, last weekend, our kids flew to Pittsburgh and I flew to D.C. to meet up with Luisa. We walked hand in hand to visit the monuments and we visited the Holocaust Museum. We went out for a late lunch and sipped bourbon in the middle of the day because we had nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. We were able to complete our thoughts and have conversations about things that were about us as people, not us as parents. It was a lovely weekend alone.
Relationships are built on love and respect but also on shared interests and experiences. Though interests may change, I’ve realized the importance of cultivating new experiences together. I wouldn’t trade my kids for anything and I don’t long for the time before they were part of our lives but I am learning that making time for our relationship makes us better partners to each other. And when we are better partners, we are better parents. As with everything in a family, there must be balance in all things.
PHOTO CREDIT: VIKKI REICH