Happily Even After
By Josh Noem
Before the baseball regular season ended, my Dad and I made a father-son trip to see our team, the Minnesota Twins, play in their stunning new stadium, Target Field, in Minneapolis—it was a trip we’d been planning for quite some time.
We’d made the plans before the All-Star break at the mid-point of the season, and since then the Twins had tanked. They were way out of contention by the time we saw them play, but baseball is a grand game that rewards faithfulness in its own way. They failed to score in their first two losses of the weekend, but a surprise late-game homer won the final game of the homestand, and the excitement seemed to make it all worthwhile.
Dad and I had a great trip—we watched a lot of baseball and drank a lot of beer together. I’m pretty sure that will qualify as a standard day in heaven.
By now, I’ve spent the majority of my life outside of my family of origin, so it takes this kind of attentiveness and intentionality to sustain those fundamental family relationships. As an adult, I’ve always, always found it worthwhile to spend time like this with my parents.
It is almost like looking into a dim mirror—I’m at the age my Dad was at when we were forming our connection over baseball. I think we both recognize his reflection in the role I am filling with my family now, so spending time together is a thing both old and new at the same time. Kind of like baseball itself.
With the start of the school year and the extra work I’ve taken on this past month, the timing of the trip didn’t turn out to be ideal—in hindsight, our family might have preserved some sanity with a different arrangement. But it was an important trip to take, so Stacey was great about getting me out the door and keeping the domestic train rolling while I was gone for a long weekend.
The trip was purely gratuitous—it was simply about making memories with my Dad—but Stacey saw the value in that experience for me. I never heard her grumble about what my absence would cost the family, or how it might inconvenience her.
I was very grateful that she supported me. She did more than just get out of the way—she encouraged me to do it. I felt like she had my full thriving in mind—that she wanted the best for me, regardless of what that might mean for her.
Good marriages are like this, though—spouses should want the best for each other, and be willing to sacrifice to make those desires real. This unconditional love is the font of mutuality—a great father-son weekend inspires me to want the same for her. Not that she “gets” a weekend away now that I’ve had one—that would not be unconditional love. Besides, she’d be miserable watching the Twins play (who wasn’t this year?) and she hates beer.
We have found it best to keep score in baseball, but not in marriage.
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