|celebrating my 37th birthday with my precious family (and some tiramisu!)|
When Pedro and I were first married, both of us were students - he in seminary working on a master's degree, and I in college with one year left to go to earn my bachelor's degree. In addition to studying, we were both working as much as possible to pay bills and I remember thinking on our honeymoon, "One whole week to spend alone together 24/7 - when will this ever happen again?"
Well, our first anniversary rolled around and we had high hopes but a very low budget. At the time I owned a copy of a book called The Christian Bed & Breakfast Directory, and as I scoured its pages a family-owned farmhouse charging only $32.50 a night caught my attention. We could handle that! It was two hours away and near the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania (which we didn't even know existed but sounded nice!)
Long story short, it was a wonderful overnight visit and we were surprised at how refreshed and renewed we felt personally and as a couple by getting away from our everyday cares for just a short time. We made a commitment then that no matter what, the two of us would always go away at least for one night at least once a year (typically around our anniversary.)
For fifteen years we have kept that promise. And last year for the first time since our honeymoon we had that "one whole week to spend alone together 24/7" - which was wonderful! I know I am so blessed to have a husband who feels this is just as important as I do. He is usually sensitive to when life starts to overwhelm me and I need a break, just with him. And if not, I've learned through experience to just spell it out for him (which is what I did this birthday!)
We didn't always used to communicate so well.
As a now-humorous back story to birthdays and "spelling things out" in our marriage, I must recall my very first birthday as a married woman. In my family, the recognition of birthdays was a big deal - we woke up to birthday wishes, my mom made us our favorite meal and a delicious birthday cake, and OF COURSE there were presents. However, in my husband's family birthdays were a little more matter-of-fact. There was still cake and recognition of whomever was having a birthday, but often money was tight and presents were necessary rather than exciting items.
So, when my birthday rolled around and we had no extra money in the budget, my husband naturally assumed that I was an adult woman who understood that fact and wouldn't expect a gift from him. I naturally assumed he would express his love for me WITH cake and presents and was devastated when he didn't. It wasn't pretty! But I'm happy to say that we lived and learned. We both learned to talk about expectations and to be willing to lower them when necessary and fulfill them when possible.
This year, the latter was the case and my husband blessed me by whisking me away for 19 hours alone together. Miracle of miracles, in the busiest tourist week of summer, a little-known hotel tucked outside of town (where we now hold our annual church retreats) had no other guests and the two of us had the entire place to ourselves! We enjoyed the pool, a dinner out, even a quick trip to the mall to buy Pedro another wedding band (a story for another time.) Meanwhile our kids enjoyed the careful and fun supervision of Tia Ely from church, and we returned home a happier pair of parents to our happy crew of kids.
A gift of 19 hours ... if I don't say it enough, let me say it again: Pedro Garcia III, I thank GOD for making you my husband, partner in life's adventures, and best friend. I love you!