Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.
What’s your favorite date night movie?
One of my favorites is P.S., I Love You with Hillary Swank and Gerard Butler. It’s the story of a young widow whose husband arranges thoughtful, sweet surprises for her to help her cope during that first awful year of grief. Surrounded by her dear friends, she feels her husband’s love in tangible, irrefutable ways through these little surprises, seemingly drawing them closer even than they were in life.
Sometimes surprises can be fun. A little variety — the spontaneous outing or present, the out-of-the-blue card or letter, the date night that he planned and arranged for the babysitter all by himself.
Other surprises are much less so. Take an example from my college years: on Mondays, the lunch menu always featured a single descriptor: “Variety.” This was code for a surplus of a particular dish that had moved slowly the previous week. Nondescript casseroles, dried-out chicken legs, and left-over roast beef with a strange filmy rainbow “au jus.” More than once we resorted to the only alternative — hot-air popped corn in our rooms. In that case, “variety” was definitely not the spice of life.
In married life, too, variation can be a source of tremendous pleasure or frustration. When it disrupts critical routine, variety can burn the roast, cause toddler meltdown, or overdraw the checking account. On the other hand, when a little variety brushes across our love lives — the “for no reason” bunch of tulips, favorite dinner, or unexpected sleep-in — it adds a little silver lining to any gray day.
What is the difference between the two? Intention. At its best and loveliest, variety is the result of thoughtfulness and planning that shows respect and consideration for the other party and his (or her) needs. When the change stems from selfishness or thoughtlessness, it can tear at the tapestry of family life.
Talk about it: What are some areas of your life together that the two of you would like to “change things up” a bit, and would welcome a bit of variety?