Uh-oh, two blogs in one day. I better tak'er easy before I go getting all addicted to this talking to myself nonsense.
I was listening to the radio the other day, and the question being asked was, "How do you keep the romance alive?" I chuckled to myself because Adam and I both know that "romantic" is SO not a word we use to describe our marriage. What I mean is that the stereotypical, "mushy" romantic stuff is not what keeps us going. I fell in love with him because he didn't buy me flowers all the time, write me poetry, take me to fancy dinners, etc. In fact, I don't think he knows how strategic he was while we were dating. Bear with me as I explain. From the gobs of psychology classes I've taken, I've picked up on something called "variable reinforcement." Reinforcement is a term that refers to the process of increasing a desired behavior using some type of stimulus. Adam's desired behavior: To keep me around. Stimulus: Flowers. He reinforced my desire to stick around by buying me flowers. However, there's a Goldilocks element to it. You don't want to apply the stimulus too much, and you don't want to apply the stimulus too little. Scientists have found, for example, if you reinforce a rat with food every 15 minutes, the rat will only come around every 15 minutes. This continuous reinforcement would make me bored; I'd have a lot of flowers, and I'd come to expect it. Or if the stimulus is only set to be delivered in limited quantities, I'd be like, "Wow, this guy NEVER buys flowers... I'm outta here." (Not that I would ever say that...) But it has been shown that the highest results come from the stimulus being delivered at random times, at just the right amount. Think of it like a slot machine. You never know if you're gonna win, so it's a surprise regardless of the amount! I'm pretty sure this is what Adam did.
Anyway, the point of that was to show that we are not the typical "romantic" married couple (and apparently to simultaneously review my psych 101 class), but I think most people would say that about their marriages as well. I would say our's is based on the pleasure of just being in each other's company. So when I heard the question on the radio, "How do you keep the romance alive?" I honestly wasn't sure what we "do." And then I got kind of sad. I don't really "do" anything! Some wife I am...
So I thought back to when we were dating, when our version of "romance" was just getting started. I remember one evening I drove from Federal Way to Port Orchard in a huge storm, just to see him for a few hours. It was totally ridiculous because the roads were flooded, I heard warnings that there were 3 hour back-ups, I had to get up at 5:00 the next morning, and couldn't afford gas, etc. There were so many practical reasons that I should have just stayed home and talked to him on the phone instead. But I wanted to see him darn it. And I didn't care if I only got 4 hours of sleep, had to drive in the pouring down rain, and had to spend my hard earned money on fuel. I was in love.
I did this many, many times during the two years that we dated. And he did the same for me. We just liked being around each other, even if it would have been smarter just to stay home and wait until the weekend. Now that we've been married for almost five years, reality has set in and we're not as impulsive as we used to be. Gas costs money, I have a house to clean, I'll just see you in two days anyway... You know, the typical excuses.
Today, Adam's plan was to get his car packed and ready to go so that he could drive from Academy in Tacoma in the morning to his all-day training in Kent. That way he could just leave from Kent at 5:00pm instead of Tacoma, and get home sooner to see me. Unfortunately, the parking lot in Tacoma was locked when he went to leave this morning. He and a few other people had to carpool to Kent. So much for him getting home early! That meant he had to drive all the way back to Tacoma in rush-hour, and then all the way up to Kirkland. Lame, lame, lamety-lame.
This morning he joked that I could come get him in Kent and we could drive down to Tacoma together so we could ride together. Well, of course, the old married woman in me said, "Traffic is going to SUCK." I thought of every reason NOT to follow through with this plan. I'd have to drive in rush-hour down to Kent, then we'd have to drive all the way back in separate cars from Tacoma to Kirkland, I hate driving, I hate gas, I need to shower, I need to clean the house, blah blah blah.
Then I thought of the question, "How do you keep the romance alive?" I knew the answer. By doing the silly things I used to do when we were dating... Because I'm in love.
Even though there are all these reasons NOT to drive all over the world tonight, I am choosing to spend time in the car with my husband. And that's the way we do it. We just like to be in each others' company. And I'm guessing I might get some Menchie's out of it. Which, BTW, I don't get very often, but when I do, it's a great reinforcement. I guess he's still using his clever strategy to keep me around... :)