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For Your Marriage

Josh and Stacey Noem have been married for almost 20 years and have three children in middle school and high school. They blog about parenting and their adventures as a family.

Fun Together–or, How to Feed Your Frog

Lots of couples talk about how continuing to date each other after getting married, and especially after having children, is a vital part of their relationship. This is totally true, of course. Setting aside special “couple time” is absolutely invaluable on so many levels. But it is also super hard to actually make it happen.

When we were first married, and for several years after, we would go on a date on the 9th of every month (we were married on May 9th ). It’s funny because even now I can remember some of those dates and the places we went very clearly: Rapid City in the middle of the summer; giant desserts at a very out of the way house restaurant in Indiana, an anniversary dinner at the nicest restaurant in Sitka, Alaska…

As we got busier and after living in community with other volunteers, we got more “intentional” about our time out together. So at some point we would have a check-in conversation about how we were doing together. Sometimes it was about relationship stuff and other times it was about housekeeping sorts of things, like how badly I needed Joshua to wipe up the bathroom counter after shaving.

While they became fewer and a bit farther between, even after our first son was born our dates were still a pretty fixed part of our lives. I don’t know where we ended up dropping off from the practice. Probably some time in grad school when funds were lower and we had such good friends that we prioritized spending time with them when we went out instead of a making it a date night.

Lately, we have scheduled dates by getting tickets to something. For the last several months they have been Portland Trailblazers games. We love to watch basketball together. But sometimes its artsy sorts of things like symphony tickets, Garrison Keillor or the like. Once, I came home and over dinner Joshua told me that a babysitter was on her way over because he was taking me out as a surprise date. He loves to make surprises…

OK, but here’s the thing: Tonight I had more fun with Joshua than I have had in our last several dates put together. And it all happened because of a fly. As in a bug.

The day had come to an end. We were pretty much turned in to bed, just sitting up reading…and we start to hear a buzzing. And WHOOSH this enormous black gumball-sized fly comes whizzing over my head. Like close! We both ignored it. Seriously, because who is going to be the one to get up and take care of it? We were both happily in bed.

So it keeps buzzing and I got another flyby, and finally Joshua decides he is going to take one for the team and get up. (I am smiling so hard here…) The thing is Joshua, for whatever reason, has a really hard time tracking flies. It has always been this way. With flies, he is like those cows on the side of the road when you drive by them and they don’t turn their head and track you as you go. They have to kind of catch up with you at each point of your movement. That is Joshua in this case. But, of course, by the time his eyes track to the next spot, the fly is already long gone.

He was “on the fly’s trail” for about 7 minutes or so. Not through the whole house, just in our bedroom. It isn’t a very large room. But he kept losing the fly and then having to sit still until he heard it again. Meanwhile, I am in bed and reading and could point at the fly while still looking at my book. Amazing. How can we be SO different?!

Well, then I had to join in and “get this thing done.” I was the tracker and he had the requisite folded up magazine for swatting. I am walking around the room pointing like some hunting canine and he is trying to get a shot at it. I think super fly realized he was in for it now because he managed to fly out of the room under the door.

Ultimately, both of us got him trapped in a small bathroom and that is where the fun really got going. There is barely enough room for both of us to stand in this room and we were jumping around on the tub, on the toilet; pointing and swatting, trying not to hit the mirror, hitting lights that shouldn’t be hit…and missing, missing, missing.

Then, Joshua landed a blow that stunned the fly enough that we could catch him. We war danced ourselves down the stairs and promptly deposited him in the pet frog’s terrarium. Springer (our resident tree frog) had a lovely midnight snack. And I had a blast! Laughing, playing…I think these are the vital parts of our relationship and I love that at this point in our life together I don’t only have to rely on dates for them to happen.