In their latest article on the topic of Marriage, Jane and Charles Perryman explore how The Ordinary is Sacred.
Thursdays are always a bit of a rush for Mike and Elaine. Simon (8) has football training after school and by the time Elaine brings him home they have only three quarters of an hour before Jean (7) needs to be out for Brownies.
When Mike arrived home at quarter to five he was wacked. He had been on the go since five thirty that morning. He allowed himself five minutes for a cup of tea and a sit down, then on with getting tea ready.
At the health centre where Elaine worked they were short-handed and Elaine had had a really bad day. Elaine was on time to meet Simon but was delayed in getting to Jean who goes to her friend, Alison’s house on Thursdays. When Elaine left Alison’s house she knew she would be late home and was starting to get anxious. Before setting off she made a quick call to Mike to let him know what was happening.
Twenty minutes later and Elaine is stuck again as there has been an accident and she has been diverted. Getting more anxious and with Jean already complaining that she will be late for Brownies, Elaine called Mike again. “Don’t worry,” said Mike, ”just let me know when you are ten minutes away and I will have tea on the table when you come in.”
When, eventually, Elaine, Simon and Jean arrived home there were just twenty minutes for Jean to be out again. It was Elaine’s turn to take Jean to Brownies but as Mike looked at her he could see how tired she was and offered to take Jean. “I’d rather take her,” said Elaine. “I can have a coffee with Karen and chill out for an hour while you get the clearing up done and make sure Simon is ready for bed.”
Mike was asleep and Simon was playing on his x-box when Elaine and Jean came back. Simon was ready for bed. Jean was very excited as she had heard all the news about Brownie camp. Quietly Elaine ushered Jean and Simon towards bed. Half an hour later she slumped down next to Mike on the sofa. Mike reached for Elaine’s hand. They sat together for some time. “Tea? And bed?” asked Elaine at last. As they got into bed Elaine snuggled up to Mike and they drifted off to sleep together.
Just an ordinary, but a busy day! It is the sort of day that any couple with young children might experience on a regular basis. And yet it was a day filled with opportunities to demonstrate love and connection. Elaine and Mike are clearly tuned into each other. They recognise when they have choices made to connect with each other. Elaine chooses to let Mike know about how she is getting on. Mike does his best to ensure there is the smoothest possible path to enable Jean to be at Brownies. Elaine recognises her need to be able to wind down. Mike is tuned into Elaine’s need. Elaine allows Mike to stay dozing while she gets Simon and Jean to bed.
At each stage they choose to do what is best for their relationship and for the family at that moment. These are all sacrificial acts. In themselves they are small sacrifices but they are important because they spell out in actions that the other is special to them and they want to do their best for each other. At the end of the day, as they drift off to sleep they are at peace with each other.
Most couples act like this for each other most of the time. They are so ordinary that we hardly notice the choices that we make. Yet they are choices. They are so important for us because they reinforce the bond between us. These are sacred moments, played out in the normal course of the day.