Squeeze The Love In When You Can {Pun Intended}

As I’ve been reading all of these amazing posts for our Spread the Love series, amidst the red-and-white-and-pink madness of Valentine’s Day all around us, I started to think about my marriage.  I’ll admit, I see these posts on Facebook of my friends who’ve escaped to Vegas for the weekend, or Florida for 5 days, or even a week-long cruise (all with their husbands), and I am jealous.  A traveler at heart, any pictures of friends on trips make me wish I was along for the ride, but especially the ones where I see how they’ve managed to escape their work/kids/crazy schedules and have one-on-one time with their spouse.  Matt and I could really use that right about now.  (I mean, who couldn’t, right?)

date night

I guess it’s just funny to look back on our “couples vacations” that we’ve shared in our 14 years together.  We started dating as sophomores in high school, and in turn started joining the “family vacations” with each other’s parents.  At the time, we were so happy to be in a new place with each other, taking tons of pictures and hating when it was time to go home, but I don’t think we can really consider those “couples vacations.” (Not that I think sixteen-year-olds should be taking couples vacations–don’t get me wrong!)  

During our senior year, we did travel just the two of us to visit his grandparents and family down in Texas, and although those memories are oh-so-sweet, again we weren’t out on our own just yet.  We got engaged during my third (and final) year of undergraduate studies, just before I moved to Spain for a semester.  I left in January and was scheduled to return in May–mind you, at this point we had been together for 6 years and had never spent more than 2 weeks apart–so Matt planned a trip to visit me at the beginning of April. 

Our first trip as a couple, and it was going to be a big one!  Wandering around Seville, Spain together! Could there be anything more romantic?

Well, I’d say the memories of that trip are bittersweet.  Oh, I was so happy to see him, and to introduce him to my friends and my new life in Spain.  But Matt was completely overwhelmed.  He had never been abroad, never traveled (to that extent) by himself, did not know the language, and hadn’t slept in a couple days.  His week-long visit was a whirlwind of walking around the entire city of Seville, showing him every single last thing that I was waiting three months for him to see, and then a 48-hour trip to Mallorca, one of the beautiful islands off of Spain.  All in all, we should have just gotten a nice hotel room and spent the whole week talking to each other and eating delicious food in bed, because what we really needed was to connect and talk about how hard it was to be apart.

18 months later, we were married.  Our wedding day was the most beautiful day of my entire life, and I was the happiest girl on the planet.  Everyone was happy, everything was perfect, and we were finally husband and wife!  And we were finally off on our first trip–the honeymoon.  We landed in Jamaica on a Sunday evening, spent the next three days laying on the beach and enjoying the perks of an all-inclusive trip, and then we decided to go cliff-jumping at Rick’s Café.  OK, let’s be honest, I decided to go cliff-jumping at Rick’s Café, and my husband of four days told me he thought it was a bad idea.  He wins the points for winning the first “argument” of the marriage.  One jump off the cliff and my back has never been the same:  I fractured three vertebrae and spent six weeks in a neck brace!

So, I think my point is becoming clear, right? Apparently we don’t do so well on the planned-romantic-getaway events. 

Three years into our marriage, we had a barely-two-year-old little boy and his three-month-old baby brother. We decided to take a trip to the Wisconsin Dells for our anniversary, just the two of us.  Turns out, we had a really good time.  Spent the entire two days going down waterslides (which only hurts my neck a little now, by the way) and then crashing into the big fluffy bed at night, too tired to think about how much we missed our babies.  And that, my friends, was the last time we went away. 

Oh no, wait, we did do a little staycation/babymoon at the Sheraton downtown Iowa City when I was pregnant with our daughter two years ago.  I was six months pregnant and super uncomfortable, and we spent the weekend going to the courthouse to finally get that copy of our marriage license we needed and then, after four hours at Billion Auto, we traded in my beloved Nissan Sentra for the dreaded “m” word (mini-van).  Now that should be on a Valentine’s card for Hallmark, don’t you think?

What I’ve learned is this:  you’ve got to squeeze the love in when you can.  My husband works an average of 60 hours/week, we have three children five & under, and (like everyone else) it always seems like we have 547 things to do every day.  Matt gets very little vacation time, and when he does, we take advantage of the time to take our kids to see their much-missed family in Texas.  And these are trips we will never, ever regret (in fact, we are heading out in about 3 weeks from now!).  That leaves us with next-to-no-time for any of these white sandy beaches and couples getaways that are showing up in my news feed.  But, as our history shows, I think we really do enjoy each other more (and rack up less hospital bills!) in the day-to-day chaos that we call our life together.

cheesecake

Like this past weekend, for example.  Knowing that we were headed out to the Date Night event Sunday evening, Matt decided to go upstairs and have a nap with the kids (he usually goes to bed around 8:30 because he works at 3 a.m.) so that he would be awake and alert for our evening together.  We had such a great evening with our friends, both old and new, and the fact that he wasn’t exhausted by the time 9 p.m. rolled around was awesome. (That makes us sound so old!)  

But honestly, I don’t need a Hallmark holiday or an all-inclusive trip to squeeze that love in with my best friend. 

He and I both enjoy a good laugh at the dinner table, even if it’s accompanied by three screaming kids.  We have learned to find the time for each other, whether it’s a back rub while the kids watch PBS or a how-was-your-day conversation while we attempt to keep the bathroom floor from flooding while our three little monsters play in the tub.  Once in a while, the grandparents decide to be brave enough to keep all three of them, and on those evenings you usually won’t find us at a fancy restaurant or out at the movies; you’ll probably find us snuggled on the couch, eating cheesecake out of the pan and playing Cribbage (once we start, we can’t stop) or racking up some Netflix time. 

And I can honestly say that these are my favorite moments, when we squeeze the love in amidst the busyness of life.  Somehow, in a strange way, it seems like it’s even more important when those little moments are peppered throughout your day and your week, as opposed to once a year on a beautiful beach somewhere (although, please don’t get me wrong, I still want to go to the beach with you).

So tell me, where do you and your sweetheart “squeeze in the love”?  Do you ever get the chance to get away?

{P.S….Matt and I are both turning the big 3-0 this year, and we are *fingers crossed* planning a trip to Vegas to celebrate our birthdays this summer.  We would appreciate any and all prayers and/or happy thoughts that you could send our way.  Cheers to no neck braces!}


 

Sara and her husband Matt (sweethearts since they were just 16) got married in 2007, and since then have welcomed four beautiful children (Sam in 2008, Cooper in 2010, Nora in 2012, and Adam James in December 2015). A born-and-raised Iowan, Sara received both her Bachelor's and Master's Degrees (in Spanish Literature) from the University of Iowa. She's still teaching Spanish wherever and whenever she can, but her true passion is owning Iowa City Moms and building this community alongside her amazing team. Sara is also the Community Engagement Coordinator for City Mom Collective, and the owner of Cowork Collective downtown Iowa City. Common denominator in all of these jobs: community, community, community.

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