Last Saturday, during the May long weekend, was my husband Michael’s 51st birthday. This year, the weekend worked in favour for all of us to be at the cottage (our favourite place!) to celebrate as a family.
For Michael and I, married life has changed significantly over the past number of years. Where our schedule used to centre around the needs and activities of our kids (now 25 and 22), we now have time to be a couple again. But marriage doesn’t just bounce back to “pre-kid” lifestyle – that was 26 years ago and lots has changed since then. We have evolved as individuals, professionals, as a family, and also as people in our community and circle of friends. Our interests and expectations have changed as we look to the “next phase”.
Looking back, life just seemed to happen in the thick of raising a family. Conversations revolved around who had to be where for work, when we needed sitters, who made lunches, who could volunteer at school or the various sporting activities, and some days delegating “you go this way with one, I’ll go that way with the other”. Date nights turned to evenings with other young families (special nights unto themselves), and if not too exhausted then sneaking intimate time together at the end of the day. A night out “just the two of us” was rare but extra special when it happened, and we worked hard to make sure it did. When you’re busy with a young family, those date nights or quick weekend getaways are so important to keep relationships strong.
Today, Michael and I have regained our couple time. One with little interruption save for career responsibilities (our businesses are an important focus of who we are). This time is an opportunity to reconnect, in some ways getting to know each other all over again. Some couples are able to transition and grow together through this “recoupling” stage, but for others it can be a challenge as things are not the same, resulting in going separate ways as difficult as it may be. A few years ago, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin coined this move “conscious uncoupling” as they underwent this change.
The term “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others” holds so true for marriage – we must be happy with ourselves first in order to bring the best to our relationships. While we develop interests and time together, we also recognize our new independence, and for me this is critical time with my sisterhood as we experience life change and who we have become as women. Our sisterhood becomes even more important in times of relationship status change or entering the search for love. We need our tribe and the unconditional support it gives.
Fortunately, Michael and I are enjoying becoming “the next version of us” – which seems more like Coupling All Over Again as we continue learning and growing. We are having fun contemplating what’s next as Paige and Joshua transition to their own independence. We’re exploring new experiences (travelling more together), embracing healthier choices (plant-based nutrition, crossfit and tennis), and I even hopped on his motorcycle on a recent Sunday afternoon (a first for me)! Although we miss the young family we were and the constant presence of our children, we’re so fortunate to have reached this stage of life in good health and good spirits, and are choosing to embrace it together.
Why? Because we can.
Photos: Scotch & Coffee
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