Friday, June 13, 2008

On a Short Leash - Not What I Thought

This week, I had lunch with my sister-in-law who lives in Dayton (check out their blog). She was telling me about an article that she had read in SLATE about a Buddhist couple married for 10 years who had NEVER been more than 15 feet apart the entire marriage. They considered this a “high form of Buddhist practice”. Personally, I consider it a “high form of insanity”. Anyway, when David Plotz (a writer for SLATE) and Hanna Rosin (a writer for the Atlantic), read of this story they decided to experiment themselves and try to stay within 15 feel of each other for 24 HOURS. Needless to say, their exploits for that time period are chronicled in the following SLATE article – On a Short Leash.

I am a very independent woman, always have been, always will be. I take my responsibilities, obligations and commitments very seriously; but they are mine to make. I am fortunate that I have always had men in my life who were confident enough in themselves to actually appreciate, even nurture, this aspect of my temperament.

Summer has always been a time when I am in charge of the day. If I wanted to go to shopping, take the kids to the pool, clean out the storage room or sit around and read---I could. Don always worked away from home and when he came home at 5:00, I would feel I already had all the time I needed or wanted to plan things for the kids and I and at that point in my day, I was ready to be full time wife and spend the evening with him. On occasion, I might have had an evening out with friends, but for the most part that was time for us.

Kent works from home…can you see where I am going with this? Now, I was afraid of how this might to pan out. I wasn’t used to having another adult around or being accountable to anyone else during the day in the summer. I was concerned with how the kids and I would stay out of his way and well---he out of ours. I was worried that by being together so much, we would grow weary of the other, become short tempered even get sick of having the other around. We wouldn’t be 15 feet apart at all times (which I find an astonishingly short distance), but we would be in the same house most of the day. Before we got married, I contemplated what this might look like and worried it could become stifling, fortunately that has not been the case. In some ways, by having Kent closer in physical proximity during the day, I have felt more independence than ever.

I enjoy being able to pop my head into his home office and just say, “hi”. I like knowing his routines, habits and schedule. I love being able to eat lunch with him most day’s coupled with the freedom to meet friends if deemed essential. He is here for “check in” with the boys, and on busy days he is often their “go to guy”. I am the beneficiary of his more flexible workday. Yes, there are times we can spend an hour running an errand during the day, knowing that he will have to work a little later into the evening to make up the time, but we get to do it together.

The down side of this arrangement is that he also travels with his job. Sometimes infrequently, but more often than not he travels at least 2 days a week. You might think this offsets the days he is at home all day, but I don’t find it the case. Just as David Plotz states in his piece, when Kent is gone it’s like I can’t see him and it is disconcerting on a certain level. I never expected to feel this way, yet this is where my life situation has brought me.

One reason this works is that Kent really “gets me” and I him. I know when he needs to be alone, and give him that space. I know that he enjoys spending a little time with me during the day, so I oblige (this one is easy as I love it too). I still have my independence, but I also find I enjoy the opportunity to spend some of my daytime hours with him.

Could I spend my life no more than 15 feet from Kent? Absolutely not, more likely than not it would be ME who would drive HIM crazy. Perhaps the part of this equation that is missing is choice. It is not in an attempt to reach a "higher plane" that I enjoy being close to Kent. It is because we have chosen this arrangement to be an aspect of our lives. I take pleasure having him in close proximity. It is an unexpected benefit to this “chapter two”.


Tanja said...

My husband Siep had a very busy job and often had to travel. Sometimes he was gone for three or four weeks, overseas, and I was the one running things at home and with the kids. It was the way it was.

When he got sick, and wasn't able to work anymore, we spent 24 hours a day together. I never thought I could do that, but it was an amazing time. We loved being able to talk when we wanted to talk, to run errands together (when he still could) but we also could leave each other the space we needed.

Now he's not here anymore. And I wish... oh well.

Anonymous said...

Rob and I have little trouble spending whole days together. We have are separate things that keep us busy (his outdoor work and carpentry and my writing) but days where we can connect at will are terrific.

I'm not sure about the "15ft" thing but like the couple who decided to be intimate for 101 days straight, I can see where pledging to do that for a short amount of time could bring a couple closer in ways other than the physical.