Shelley and I met in August of 1997 and started dating a month later. We were engaged the following June and then married in December 1998. Or to put it another way, we didn’t really know each other when we got married.
But, I can honestly say that Shelley is my best friend. We have way too many goofy nicknames for each other. There is no one I would rather go on an adventure with. There is no one I like to laugh with more. There is no one I trust more. There is no one I enjoy talking with more.
We can sit and do absolutely nothing together and enjoy every minute of it.
Shelley is my best friend. Or, in the lingo of the day we are BFF’s…
I believe our friendship is a gift of God. I was not near wise enough when we got married to know how to nurture and preserve our amazing friendship. But, looking back I see a few things that God has graciously led us to that are vital.
One of those is how we treat our time together.
Friendship, even in marriage, is built on trust and intimacy and those come through time together. They come through taking the time to focus as much as possible on the life and interests of the other person.
We are extremely protective of our time together.
Like most people, our lives are crazy busy and are getting busier by the year. But, somehow early in our marriage we stumbled into being very conscious and intentional about carving out time for just the two of us.
That may seem like a no brainer but with the craziness of life with 3 kids, it would much easier to let a lot of life pass by without the two of us getting time for us (See I Made Shelley Cry at Cheesecake Factory).
One way we that we became intentional about our time was almost an accident in the beginning. When our daughter Emily was born, Shelley worked hard to get her on a schedule. This meant that when it was time for bed, it was time for bed. Shelley has been that way with all three of our kids.
Because of that we are almost guaranteed a couple of hours every night between when the kids go to bed and when we go to bed. We LOVE those two hours. They are gold to us.
A few years ago I told Shelley, “It is almost like time stops during these couple of hours. The day is over and tomorrow isn’t here yet. It is like the time between time.” As silly as it is, that name stuck, The Time Between the Time.
The Time Between the Time has become sacred to us. It is time when we daily nurture our friendship.
What we do during the Time Between the Time has no set pattern except for the part where I am digging through the cabinets looking for a snack.
Some nights we just sit in silence and relax. Some nights we talk about serious stuff. There was one stretch a few years ago when as soon as the kids were in bed we would play Wii golf and eat an ice-cream bar. But, while playing, we would check in on each other’s lives. We would talk about our day, our kids, decisions we were making or anything that need to be worked through with each other. I also dominated her at Wii golf….
I think about so many different big conversations that happened in the Time Between the Time.
Just over a year ago, while watching Clemson get destroyed by FSU, we began talking about the possibility of moving overseas (We moved to Fort Smith, AR instead…). One night a couple of years ago, Shelley talked me off the ledge of going back to school to get a doctorate. A year before that we spent many evenings working through the process of our adoption. The list goes on. There are also times when we need to wait until the Time Between the Time to talk through things we aren’t seeing eye-to eye on. I also think about all the nights where we just sat in silence with one another, enjoying the peace of the end of the day.
Some evenings we enjoy that time so much that I will jokingly say. “Let’s order some pizzas and just stay up all night.” At one time Shelley actually bought a few frozen pizzas and had them in the freezer just in case.
Now, we look forward to the time every day. If we are having a particularly draining day we will simply say over the phone “TBT. TBT”. (That’s initials for Time Between the Time, if you didn’t catch that.) I know it’s goofy but it is little way of saying, “We have our time coming.”
We know that it will get tougher as our kids get older, but we have the time now and we will protect it.
Every marriage and family is different. I certainly don’t think that every couple needs to do exactly what we do. But I do believe that we all need to find a way to nurture our friendship. As hard as it is to imagine, there will come a day when all of our kids are gone and it will just be the two of us. When that day comes I want to know that I have done everything to make sure she is still my BFF.
By the way, last night during the TBT, we talked about how fun it would be to own a motorhome….