Do you remember when you were younger, and friends used to ask if you “liked ” someone? I mean “liked ” in the sense that you thought that person was cute and more than just a friend. At that stage, liking someone seemed to be the starting point from which loving relationships blossomed.
Then, at some point, the concept of liking someone quit being the go-to emotion anymore. Suddenly, it was all about love and all the warm, fuzzy feelings that entailed. Liking someone wasn’t enough. Love was what it was all about.
Sometimes, though, I think that the first partÑthe “liking ” partÑis the more important key to a relationship. In fact, I was thinking of that the other day when my husband, Mark, and I were out running errands.
“It’s a good thing we still like each other, ” I told him. Mark looked at me a little confused and said, “I sure hope we do. We’re married. ” Then he asked, “Where did that come from? “
I explained to him how I’d been thinking about it since earlier in the day, when we asked our kids if any of them wanted to go with us. They all said noÑeven our 8-year-old, Kacey.
It struck me that there was a time not so long ago when the kids would have jumped at the chance to go somewhere with Mark and me. But lately, the two of us have been finding ourselves alone more and more. I’m enjoying it, but have to admit that it also feels a little bit weird.
Back to the Beginning
For the past 20 years, Mark and I have been busy with our four kids, their school, sports, and other various activities. He has owned his role as good cop, and I have resigned myself to being the bad cop. Date nights have been few and far between, and, even then, our conversations often revolved around the kids and their schedules. “Divide and conquer ” has been our m.o. for so long, it feels odd to be coming back together as a team.
As most parents will probably admit, once you have children, your relationship with your spouse often takes a back seat. But as always happens, the children grow and become more independent, and couples find themselves reconnectingÑfor better or worse. Suddenly, Mom and Dad are morphing back into Susan and Mark.
A Time of Discovery
During our parenting journey, I have never doubted that I love Mark. But I can’t say that I continually took the time to see all the little things about him that first made me like him. But now, as we spend more time alone together, I’m suddenly remembering many of those things. For instance, he makes me laugh and has a wicked, childlike sense of humor. He is great at lovingly giving me a push outside of my comfort zone. And he always picks me up when life gets toughÑphysically and mentally.
Lest anyone accuse me of being too starry-eyed about our relationship, though, I am also well aware of all the things that I also dislike about him: He puts the peanut butter in the refrigerator, where it doesn’t belong, and puts the toilet paper on the roll the wrong way.
In the end, though, the point is this: Not only do I love Mark, I like him. In terms of our relationship moving forward, that counts for a lot.