There are certain times of the year where I’m more selfish than others, and March Madness is one of those times. Just this week I’ve turned down requests to watch Mickey Mouse, How It’s Made, and, to the stunned amazement of my daughters, Frozen. There’s a rule in our house and everyone knows it: March Madness means Daddy is off duty. Well, mostly.
For the past few years during the second to last week of March, on Thursdays and Fridays, I take a break from my job and my family, check into my local sports bar with friends and co-workers and indulge on wings, fries, and as many NCAA tournament basketball games as we can. On Saturday and Sunday, I become a fixture on my couch and my family comes and goes as if I’m not present.
Before you jump to the conclusion that I’m some kind of a Homer Simpson or that all this is really selfish of me, you have to know the back story of how my wife and I got to this place. She fully supports this “me” time during March Madness, for the record. I also support her in doing things she enjoys that are for her alone — case in point she is in Spain without me at the moment. We both feel dads and moms need breaks — it’s just a fact of life. There’s more to the story for Casey and me, however.
Five years ago, the two of us understood the need for having time away from family a little too much. We had both been through three years of law school; me as a student and Casey as a wife and mother of a law student. That time in law school had been taxing on both of us, and we had gotten a bit tired of each other and our relationship had grown stale.
Most evenings and weekends of that particular spring and summer were spent apart from each other. We had adopted an unspoken policy that allowed each of us to reserve individual nights and weekends off doing something we wanted to do. The parent who didn’t reserve the weekend or evening spent that time at home with Addie. Neither of us argued about who got which night or what day, and neither of us complained about being stuck at home with Addie. Pretty much every weekend and every weekday evening, however, was reserved by one of us. Spending time apart was our way of pretending that we were both still happy in our marriage.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a family therapist to see that our arrangement was a giant sign that our marriage was in trouble. My friends tried to warn me to change my ways, and Casey had her own people talking to her. Not surprising, by October of that year Casey asked for a divorce.
With the idea of divorce looming, we both individually wondered if we really wanted to spend any more time with each other. For me, I thought about that arrangement and wondered what I was thinking. Casey was my best friend and no part of me wanted to spend my next 50 years without her. Nothing I did on my own without her on those evenings and weekends was as enjoyable as spending an evening with her in our apartment. It was shocking to me that somehow we had both gravitated to thinking that that type of an arrangement was preferable.
That divorce conversation happened more than 5 years ago, and our marriage has been stronger ever since than it was before. We both still get time away from each other to have nights out, but they happen at an infrequent rate. Casey will spend time with her friends one evening maybe every other week. I will head out to a sports bar to eat wings and watch sports with my friends maybe once a month.
And … I have March Madness. While it may seem selfish on the surface, it represents just how deeply my wife and I value our time apart — if only to appreciate our time together even more.
Photo Credit: Flickr
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