My friend was in the kitchen last night finishing the last preparations for her kids’ lunches the next day. Her husband walked in, smiled mischievously and asked, “Want to have a sleepover?”
“A sleepover?” After 20 years of marriage and three children, she knew enough to be wary when he approached her in the kitchen.
“Yeah, a sleepover,” he grinned, “You know. You sleep over on my side of the bed.”
She laughed and rolled her eyes at him.
“I even have a gift for you,” he continued with his devilish grin.
Without missing a beat, she zinged this next comment his direction, “Oh, I’ve had that gift before!” She paused for effect, looked at him in the eyes and said, “I think that’s called re-gifting.”
Stunned at her smooth return of his banter and somewhat crestfallen he shrugged, “Well, okay then.”
It’s just too bad we weren’t there to see the look on his face as his wife of twenty years lobbed the creative flirty serve back to him without missing a beat. She did that in style. She put him in his place without insult or recrimination. She stepped it up to his level, and matched him stride for stride in his fun antics. I’m guessing they sleptover and regifted and enjoyed every minute of it. She didn’t tell me that…but she didn’t have to…I’m smart that way you know.
Ahhh, tis the season! Sleepovers and re-gifting. The stuff marriages are made of.
As I watched this same friend interact with her husband last week when they stopped by my classroom during conference, I was struck with the same impression after hearing this story: these two have a great marriage. They’ve been through some stuff, it hasn’t always been easy, they don’t always get along, sometimes they can’t stand to be in the same room together and they have all the experiences of married people who’ve been together since youth, built careers, birthed and brought up children together and are now in their 40’s. The new, giddy fairy tale honeymoon bliss is long gone from their relationship or at least it has dimmed signifcantly. But they have a great marriage. They have a marriage I dreamed of having when I was a girl but somehow wasn’t able to experience yet as an adult. They still laugh and joke together, they still communicate, they still respect each other, they are still working shoulder to shoulder together in the thing they are building called their family, their marriage and their home. In her own words she says, “After all the garbage and stress of life is done, when we can finally be alone, we really like it. We still really enjoy being together.”
Now that’s a fairy tale ending that doesn’t get any better. I am envious. In a good way. I am so happy for them and their children. I long for that for myself. And I am ever so grateful to know these two people because they crystallize for me certain aspects of what I am looking for in a long term committed (yes, it is insane) relationship. They remind me never to settle…never…ever! I love having these two in my life, because in the very short time I’ve known them, they’ve showed me that what I suspected could happen between a man and a woman in love, does happen, it does last and it is not simply wishful thinking on my part. They inspire me. In all their middle aged responsible duties to each other, the kids the community, the new house, they just simply inspire me. They give me hope.
If I were to say what I think makes their marriage so good, it is that they still enjoy being together and they enjoy being together…alone. They probably still enjoy it because they still make time for each other. They haven’t ditched out on each other emotionally nor have they chosen any number of escapes that people can and often do choose when they grow apart from each other. They are both still in it, working on it and respecting each other for their part in the project. They can play and laugh and flirt in the kitchen during the most mundane tasks. They still have fun on a “connection” level not merely on an activity level. I think this is probably a vital element in the success of their marriage. They have the “happily ever after”. Not the perfectly ever after, but the happily ever after. There’s a difference and these two get it.
They keep their marriage fun by having sleepovers and re-gifting.
Someday, someday…I will eagerly accept the invitation to sleepover on my man’s side of the bed and I will just love whatever regifting he has to offer. Until then, it is so encouraging to know, in this day and age where over 50% of marriages fail and even more remarriages fail, that happily ever after does exist.