GET AWAY
TO STAY TOGETHER

    Every once in awhile, you hear about a couple that have been married for 55 years or so and have never spent a night apart.
   How romantic, how impressive, how determined, howÖ.ridiculous.
   I can just imagine my wifeís reaction if I suggested we spend the next 7432 consecutive nights together. "Thatís a lovely idea," she would reply. "Iíve always wanted to see what you do on those golfing junkets to Las Vegas."
   Thereís something to be said for a little space. Every once in awhile, women need to be with other women, and men need to be with other men. And spouses need to visit their out-of-town familiesÖalone.
   My father spent a fair amount of time apart from my mother when traveling on work assignments. But they always vacationed together. He once told my mother that before he died he wanted to fulfill his dream of being a bachelor for a week.
    "I donít have any problem with that at all," she sweetly replied.
    "Really?" he said, completely surprised at her willingness to let him fulfill his dream.
    "Iím happy to let you be a bachelor for a week," she repeated. "Where should we go?"
   My wife and I are a little different. We both encourage the other to get away on our own. Two days after I got back from a boys trip to Oregon, she left with our daughters for a weeklong mother-daughter bonding trip.
   My sons and I were left at home alone. For a week. And once again I realized the value of creating some marital space. By the time she returned, which was last Saturday, I had a newfound appreciation of all the little things she does to make our marriage work so well.
   First of all, I was down to my last pair of underwear. I kept putting my clothes in the Magic Hamper, as Iíve always done, and nothing happened. The magic was gone.
    My sons were having the same problem. Theyíd drop their clothes in their Magic Hamper, and towards the end of the week it was overflowing onto the closet floor. Clothes had always reappeared folded and clean, but it wasnít happening.
   We tried to dampen our disappointment by buying junk food, watching sports, and having "Bad Manners Night" at the dining room table, but that got old after a few days. I began to miss my wife by Wednesday or so.
   She must have missed me, too, because she finally called me on Thursday, five days after she left. They were just across the border in Mexico, and apparently phones are difficult to find.
   "Nice of you to call," I said when I heard her voice.
   "Itís really expensive to call from here," she replied. "I need to talk fast. How are the dogs?"
   I knew it. She was calling to see if we had killed the dogs. Our understanding of our marital space includes the fact that we donít have to call and check in every night that weíre apart. She might not have called at all, except she was worried that the dogs wouldnít survive a week in our care.
   "Donít worry, I fed them three days ago. I was going to walk them, but theyíve been rolling around in their own excrement and I couldnít stand the smell."
   "Very funny. You guys better be nice to those dogs. Did you water my plants?"
   "What plants?"
   She ignored me, knowing I was trying to let her know in my own little way how much I missed her. But I was getting a little impatient that she hadnít asked how the boys and I were doing.
   "Iíve got to go," she said. "This is costing a fortune to call. Take care of those little doggies."
   "You mean the boys?" I asked, setting her up.
   "Iím not worried about you guys," she replied. "Youíre probably sitting around in dirty underwear watching sports and eating junk. I miss you, though. See you Saturday." Then she hung up.
   She missed me. Thatís all that mattered. When she returned on Saturday, I could see that absence did indeed make the heart grow fonder. The only living creatures that were happier than me to see her return were the dogs.
   Life would be back to normal, and we would all appreciate it that much more.
 

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