Last August my parents gifted Mr. Fox and me with A Weekend To Remember for our eleventh anniversary. You can imagine our reactions were very different.
Me: “Cool! Two days with no kids!”
Him: “Crap. If this is one of those things where I have to hold hands with strangers and share my feelings I’ll hurt someone.”
A quick Google search assured him there would be no group sharing. It was a simple seminar with no small groups or embarrassing confessions. Instead we would listen to experts talk about topics we should be interested in like getting along, loving more, and parenting better; and then we could go out on the town in lovely Schaumburg, Illinois, and enjoy all the fabulous restaurants, of which there are many. None of this made Mr. Fox any more at ease. His jaw clenched so tight for the car ride out there I could see a vein throbbing in his cheek which, after eleven years, I have identified as a neon sign that says: “Don’t speak.” He was probably plotting his exit strategy.
Happily, it was nothing like he expected and we found ourselves laughing from the first minute it started. The entertaining speakers overflowed with advice we’d never heard before. Not only that, but it had been about five years since we had looked each other in the eyeballs without interruption. Was he always this funny? Have his eyes always been that blue? It was almost as if we had a chance to remember each other. Daily life with little kids is so fast and hectic that it is very easy to lose each other in referee mode. It’s pure survival.
What we learned, besides the fact that getting away is good medicine, was that most of our ideas of what marriage is supposed to be are cultural myths that are dangerous to a healthy relationship.