marriage issues


From a certain point of view, I haven’t much actual marriage experience. In fact, I am still years away from having spent more of my adult life paired than single. So in some ways, my basis for comparison and analysis is short on actual “seat time” and what I know as “normal” can’t necessarily be taken as gospel. There are those who have spent more time in the so-called trenches than I have, but I have to say, I have yet to find marriage trench-like.

Is it typical to still lust after your husband five years on? I found myself wondering that for the umpteenth time the other evening.

“There is an awful lot of gropage that goes on around this house,” Rob remarked as we exchanged send-off affections at the back door this morning.

Rarely to if ever do we arrive or depart solo without excessive lip servicing and declarations of love and perhaps this is normal for the time frame. Having never made it past a sixth anniversary, I wouldn’t know personally. But I don’t see this in other couples and wonder if perhaps it is just me. Or just our circumstances? Or maybe evidence that too many people in the world take far too much for granted and no wonder there are as many failed marriages as there are successes.

Five years ago, Rob and I stood on the banks of the Athabasca River and exchanged vows, rings and kisses. Papers were signed. Pictures were taken. Food and drink was consumed. It seems like yesterday and history at the same time.

The card I left next to his steaming tea-cup this morning broke cardinal rules of relationship comparison and favoritism, but it brought a smile to his face and kisses and hugs to me, so who cares? Now is what counts because it’s the basis for tomorrow.

We will celebrate with lunch at the elementary school because it’s the last week of school and they always hold a family picnic, and then follow-up this evening with attendance at the last game of the outdoor soccer season. With our latest babysitter having outgrown the job, we couldn’t have scheduled a date even if the schedule was cleared anyway.

Rob bought me a new watch, a stylish but comfy pair of leather sandals and a couple of summer outfits I found at MEC this last weekend. I gave him a kick-ass miter saw. I am pretty sure that year five is marked with accessories and tools.

The search terms here have been lit up again with sad queries concerning widowed love or the lack of it. Despite my limited experience, the advice I have remains the same: disregard the dead spouse thing. It’s not central to the issue. Someone loves you and is interested in building a life with you or they simply aren’t. Why is beside the main point. If you don’t feel loved, do yourself the giant favor of taking steps to make yourself available for someone who is ready, willing and able to love.

Yesterday as I drove back to The Fort from yoga class, I noted that the fields are yellowing. Solstice has passed. Canada Day looms. The bonus months between school ending and starting up again, which as a former teacher is really the only way I know of marking time, awaits.

And it’s our anniversary. Not officially a stat day, but nearly enough.


Striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis

Striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I am already snuggled up in bed, heating pad on my low back and ice pack around my neck. It’s been a tough week of Yoga Challenge and semi-ear infections. Suddenly, I hear Rob on the main floor,

“Annie! mumble, muffle, completely unintelligible!”

Responding to the urgency of his tone, I call back,

“What?”

What? I was in bed! Covered, comfy, wrapped in heat and ice. His call wasn’t followed by a thud, so I could reasonably assume he hadn’t collapsed and it was highly unlikely that any of the mainly septuagenarian crowd at the hamlet’s annual chicken supper had gone wild and stormed our back porch in an ice tea induced frenzy.

However, he didn’t reply, so I uncomfied myself, put on my robe and headed downstairs where I found him with his toothbrush in his mouth (which explained the muffle), peering out the bathroom window into our backyard.

“What’s wrong?” I inquired, thinking that this had better be earth shattering enough to have pulled me out of bed.

“I saw the skunk,” he said. “It was walking toward the shed but disappeared as it got close to the retaining wall.”

Okay, this was news.

Our neighbors discovered a skunk den under their shed, which borders our property, last spring. Mama Skunk and a half-dozen wee ones. They filled the hole and attempted to block it off with plywood and concrete blocks. We all thought the matter resolved. However, one of the skunks returned when the rains came this year and dug out the old den. Last weekend, Rob and I woke in the middle of the night to find our entire house awash in eau de skunk.

All the windows were open and the malodorous creature had gone off either in our back yard or the side yard under our bedroom window.

You know how strong odors eventually fatigue your sense of smell, so even though the smell remains your sense of it collapses under the strain and it seems as though the scent is gone? That doesn’t happen with skunk. Just when you think your poor nose is about to give up, and you are darn grateful for Mother Nature’s thoughtful gift of olfactory fatigue – it ramps up again. And again. And again. It’s like a skunk is right there next to you, stiff-tailed and spraying.

Ever since, we’ve been on the look out because Pepe LePew is not keeping to the neighbor’s yard.

As I am peering out the window, I realize that Rob has disappeared, followed by the sound of the back door opening and closing and footfall on the deck.

I hustled up the stairs to the landing window and observed my brave skunk hunter, armed with a pellet gun, stealthily stalking his prey through our back yard, clad only in a bath towel and runners.

No, it’s okay. The neighbors have seen him in a towel before and given the fact that even though it’s 9:30 our quite northern exposure means that the sun won’t be setting for at least another hour. Excellent light for skunk spying and getting a great view of your neighbor, brandishing what looks like an actual gun, wearing a towel and exposing a titillating amount of thigh.

I must say that I admire my husband’s casual attitude and the feline ease with which he hunts. If I hadn’t been so intent on spotting the smelly intruder, I might have had presence of mind to grab my phone and record the event. It’s not something you see everyday … in most neighborhoods.

Rob slowly covered ground. The garden. The driveway. The shed area. He even got up on tip-toe and checked out the neighbor’s yard. As he did this, I kept an eye out for Monsieur Skunk. I had no idea where I find tomato juice at this time of the night and didn’t want the creature to sneak up on Rob.

Later, when I told Rob my sole concern was what I would do if he got sprayed, he replied,

“Do you think I don’t know what signs to look for before a skunk sprays?”

It was the tone of a Mountain Man aggrieved.

“And thanks for being concerned about my actual safety,” he said. “Skunks can carry rabies, you know.”

I didn’t know that, and now I have that extra tidbit to make me paranoid about allowing Dee to play unattended in our back yard until the skunk is caught and relocated.

It will have to be trapped and removed. Rabies. Stink. The prospect of a summer of tomato juice baths. I am shuddering already. Back in Canada’s lawless un-gun-controlled days, a man would simply take aim and fire. End of skunk issue. Today the county brings traps and comes back to pick them up when said nuisance wanders into one. I can’t even begin to imagine how foul an experience for the neighborhood that will be.

Better that, however, than my semi-naked husband losing his terry loin cloth in a spray of stench. The neighborhood might recover from that less quickly.


Affectionate old couple with the wife holding ...

Elderly love(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know for a certainty that you are indeed old when young women begin to refer to you and your husband as “so cute”. As in “Today I saw this old couple walking through the park holding hands. They were so cute. Someday, I hope I am an old woman who still holds hands with her husband.” The assumption being that the elderly couple in question are actually with their spouse and aren’t widowed folk who’ve randomly hooked up at the retirement complex for entertainment and recreation purposes.

But whatever. Far be it from me to disillusion a young person who still believes in marriage. It’s not as if they exist in droves anymore.

Rob accompanied me to the doctor’s office yesterday morning. I have a pesky polyp and removal involves a certain amount of slicing and frying. My doctor, a lively old fella who resembles a garden gnome – minus the hat and fluffy whiskers – assured me that I would not feel a thing. Not exactly true and Rob was concerned that I might be too distracted to drive myself home safely.

He also hates to allow me to go to the doctor’s on my own where skin things are concerned. This particular problem has been recurrent and benign, but being a fair-haired natural ginger (the latter part only when I feel like it), one can never be complacent where skin is concerned. I’ve had skin enough slashed and burned off to know that the derma can turn on you without warning. He doesn’t want me to be on my own should that happen because he lived the aftermath once before and it isn’t something you do again when you can easily prevent it.

So, we are sitting in the waiting area, chatting and holding hands, when the assistant came out to collect me. Before I followed her, I gave him a quick kiss and then proceeded down the hall to one of the many treatment rooms in the hive that hides behind the waiting room door.

As I seated myself, she smiled at me and said, “You two are just like newlyweds. That’s so cute.”

She left the “I hope I can have that one day” part unspoken, but it hung in the air nevertheless.

Cute.

I am now so old that young women find my perfectly normal interactions with my husband “cute”. “Sweet” and “endearing” cannot be far behind, and gods help me when “you guys remind me of my nana and papa” tumbles off someone’s lips.

There are worse things. Mocking. Remember the YouTube video of the couple trying to figure out how to send a message with their Mac? Cute and hilarious.

Endearing and snuggly in a puppy/kitten sort of way and chuckle-worthy at the same time. The ultimate elderly hell.

Oh, I could view it as Rob and I being inspirational. That’s how the young woman will likely present the scenario to her friends as they gather around at some pub on Whyte Ave. They will breathe sighs of relief knowing that old people still held hands and kissed, which probably means they still have sex. The fear of romance-less unions once the honeymoon is over and a few offspring  pop up being a big nightmare scenario for the young. That and the shackles of matrimony. That archaic hold over from feudal days of yore. Good to know that some of us bet the odds and don’t arrive at the half-way mark grim-faced for our slog towards decrepitude and certain death.

Of course, I didn’t tear the dear thing’s fantasy to shreds by enlightening her about the fact that, from a certain point of view, Rob and I still are newlyweds. Barely married five years and blessed with the luxury of not having to raise a single child from scratch as they were all in various stages of walking, talking and able to attend to their own bodily functions. Kinder to let her believe that Rob and I represent some undiscovered by statistician’s norm. That unicorn of couples – cute, aging and still still glowing.


A Christmas tree inside a home.

Image via Wikipedia

There are two tones the holiday letter can take – bragging to the point of possibly delusion or so much information you aren’t sure you want to ever see the author, or their family, in person ever again in this lifetime.  I would say that most fall comfortably in the middle with just enough rah-rah to promote gladness as opposed to jealousy and just the right amount of gossipy goodness to make it worth the time it takes to read it.

I am lazy as you know and go for the total slide show sappy approach, but when I do write about family, I tend to err on the side of “feed the voyeur troll” though not in a merry way.  TMI does not belong in a holiday greetings missive.

It is fair game for the blog though I will grant that some family don’t share my view on this.

The Brother

CB resurfaced not long after his scary low with a surprisingly yoga outlook for someone who doesn’t know a down from an up dog. He decided to cut ties with the Bay area and head back to the Sierra Nevada’s and Tahoe. Mountains stabilize him. He is like Rob really in that they both need to commune with the actual wilderness. Rob just gets grumpy within the confines of civilization, but CB’s doors come unhinged if he is away too long.

As of this post, CB has a snow removal job that is simply awaiting snow and call backs on a few contract gigs. Mother has even agreed to foot the purchase of a used vehicle which will in turn facilitate more employment. His kids and xSIL are spending the holidays with him in his new place atop Heavenly and I imagine that a bit of skiing and hiking is just what the doctor ordered right about now.

The Mother-in-law

The whole divorce and upheaval is becoming a bit of a testy issue for Rob and I. Her not being my mother means I am less subjective when he would prefer that I be more indignant for her. Like he is. But he is her son and I think mother/daughter relationships are not so blinkered. Maybe this is due to the fact that sons don’t typically separate from their mothers as violently as daughters do during the teen years, or maybe it is because at some point, mothers and daughters become “women” to each other and you know how judgey we can be. Whatever the reason, I don’t see the situation in black and white terms, and this is coupled with the fact that I can also clearly see the impact this marriage has had on our life over the last year, and how the fallout could inadvertently render us collateral damage in terms of clean up.

“She just needs time to come around to the realities of her new situation,” Rob told me during one of our many conversations on the topic of divorcing across international borders.

“If she were my mother,” I replied, “I’d have already spelled the realities out for her.”

“You can’t tell her anything,” he reminds me.

And I know that. You can’t tell my mother anything either, but that doesn’t mean I don’t tell her when she is being unreasonable, or when her choices come loaded with the high probability that they will impact me negatively in the near or far future.

Sigh, I do love my mother-in-law, but I can’t pretend that I am unaware of why things are as they are.

“If something happens to you,” I asked him. “Do I inherit her? Or is she like an heirloom to be passed on to the girls?”

“Funny,” he replied, but it’s not.

I share the responsibility of my mother with DNOS and not equally. Because she is on the ground and I am a thousand-ish miles away, DNOS is a front line defender should something happen.

Rob is his mother’s only line of defense by default.  DNOS has me.  Rob can count on a zombie apocalypse occurring before one of his siblings lifts a finger to come to the aid of their mother.  And that sucks.  For Rob.  And for me.

How things will turn out is still an unknown. As Yoda once said the future is difficult to see because it is always in motion. So many things in play. Future xFIL included.* I will not be amused though if this ends up costing us significant time or any more money that it already has.**

Baby’s Corner

I was chatting with DNOS the other night when she mentions her recent encounter with our youngest sibling.

“She called Mom to come get her when she had a flat, but of course Mom can’t see to drive in the dark anymore. So she had to call N1 and his dad. They got the tire changed and brought her to Mom’s.”

“How was she?” I asked. My interest in Baby is even less than DNOS’s interest in CB.***

“She’s looking old,” DNOS clucked.

“Well,” I said, “I thought she looked tough when I saw her over the summer. She can’t have aged more in such a short period of time.”

DNOS sighed, “Oh gawd, yes.  She looks older than either of us.”

Which is sad because she is just 43 and I looked pretty damn good at that age.

“How’s LawnMowerMan?”

“He lost his job when the farmer sold his cows and his back is too bad for him to work,” DNOS chuckled. “Baby says he’s been approved for disability.”

“That’s bullshit,” I replied. “It takes at least two years to get on disability for something like that.”

I know because I spent 10 months getting my late husband approved for disability and he was dying. LawnMowerMan will likely die younger than he should but he’s nowhere close at the moment.

But DNOS went on to say that Baby is working full-time at the nursing home and is supporting them both, which is ironic because Baby’s back problems are easily worse than that no account drunk she lives with and defends with the all the passion of Michele Bachmann at a rally for the sanctity of marriage.

It’s funny how nothing much changes with Baby. I was just recalling for Rob a Christmas about 20 or so years ago when she forced Mom to invite her boyfriend Len to the Christmas Eve festivities. They were “living together” and by that I mean they were couch surfing his wide circle of acquaintances, carting everything they owned in paper grocery sacks from hovel to hovel. Sadly, Len was probably the nicest guy she ever knew. Far as I know, he was the only one who never hit her. Early thirties, a bit punch drunk and missing his upper front teeth, she left him when he refused to have a baby with her.  She wanted to go back on welfare.  N1 kinda owes his existence to her laziness.

N1

The California experiment was a failure. N1 is back in his grandmother’s attic. And that’s really all I know, but CB spoke to him last week and remarked, “I don’t think much has changed.”

Speaking of Change

Last Christmas the front half of our home was just barely rehabbed from its total gutting. Today there is a brand new kitchen and living area. Silver and xFIL were newbies, and now Silver is a permanent fixture and xFIL has been kicked to the Arizona curbside.

In Silver, and with the addition of Mick’s fella , Dare, I have inherited interesting dining challenges via one’s gluten intolerance and the other’s deathly nut allergy.

We’ve also encountered the interesting phenomena of Christmas musical chairs as we struggle to nail down day and time for our holiday gathering. Rob finds it perplexing because he is old enough school to have been simply absorbed into his wife’s family and holiday time-table, both times. That’s not really the way it works for all men but most bow to the wife and her family traditions.

Silver’s family usurped our Christmas Eve tradition and Dare’s mother has claimed all day Christmas.

“Boxing Day?” Rob asked.

But there was no way that Dee could hold out on opening presents until Boxing Day. She barely made it ’til Christmas Day last year.

As of today, I know only that I am cooking meals both days and whoever shows up will be eating them. The business of the gifts is yet to be decided.

Epilogue

And so we come to the end of the anti-letter, which is not to say that the year was so heinous that it deserves one, but to remind that there is dark and white meat on every bird. My life is no different from anyone else’s. There are highs, lows and inbetween’s.

Happy Holidays to all and if you missed the year-end pictorial, it’s right here.

*He’s written letters to everyone who knows MIL, pleading with them to help him patch things up.  I still don’t dislike the guy.  He reminded me of all those things about my dad, which were sharp-edged and old-school.  That kind of man is not to my personal taste, but I am not 70 years old either. Older people marry for reasons that go beyond the romantic love and sex that drives younger people. This is not to say that they don’t experience it, but companionship, someone to take care of you and a pooling of resources enter into it in probably bigger ways than it does with younger couples.

** They came as a couple last Christmas and we put them up in a hotel for a week, which xFIL never offered to reimburse us for – even a little and there was the whole “moving” thing in August.

***DNOS would never admit to it, but she loves to get news about CB. She adores family gossip.


Plane taking off

Image via Wikipedia

Rob’s been in Texas since Sunday. I didn’t blog or Facebook about it because that’s like inviting serial killers to your house for tea.

“My husband’s out-of-town on business. Why don’t you stop by in the middle of the night and murder us in our sleep?”

When I spoke with him last night, he mentioned that trips to Texas might become a habit, which reminded me – again – that our house is not up to “Dad’s away on business” standards. There are no blinds or window coverings of any kind in areas that make it too easy for even the most casual observer to notice that it’s just Dee and I. With the absence of daylight becoming more pronounced, I feel quite exposed in the evening with all the lights on. That needs some immediate action.*

I am actually able to sleep now when Rob is away. Without leaving lights on even. But it’s not restful. I sleep lightly most of the time anyway, and his absence just attunes me that much more to the creaks and groans of the house, sounds outside that penetrate the windowpanes and to Dee’s restlessness across the hall.

Dee hates her dad being away. She almost takes it personally.

“It will be better when Dad is back,” she remarked.

“Aren’t I doing a good job?” I asked.

“It’s just better when Dad is here,” she is tactful with her dismissal of my ability to manage.

I reminded her that once upon a time it was just she and I, and I managed everything without any major mishaps.

“Yes,” she agreed, “but with Dad, it’s better.”

And there you have it. Dads are better, and I kind of have to agree. Single parenting is not a choice I would ever purposely make.

The threat of a traveling for business husband has got me thinking that the house needs to become a bit more ship-shape, and in a hurry. The kitchen is all but done. Just a few things left and the living room is nearly painted which paves the way for fireplace, flooring and light fixtures that aren’t hanging  loosely from the ceiling. The old kitchen, however, is nowhere close to its future as a dining room, and it needs to be because Christmas is now 25 days off.

With his mother’s impending divorce, we will have at least her for the holidays. Edie, Mick and the future sons-in-law haven’t nailed down their holiday itinerary, as far as I know, but Rob’s youngest sister is making noises about a visit. CB even threatened to drop by if he could sneak across the border, but I have doubts about that. So Rob’s traveling couldn’t have come at a more inopportune time. Between the days away and the days he will need to catch up on his rest, this week is a wash, and the weekend is given over to the company’s children’s Christmas party and children sleeping over. The next weekend is my birthday, and I had designs on it that will probably need to be sacrificed for the greater good. It’s a good thing I will be 48 and not 8 or this might sit poorly with me.

The Texas thing has a stinky disruptive feel to it. We had thought that travel, and the specter of relocation was off the table, but its shadow is casting a pall again, and at a time when we were settling in and rooting deep too with the house on the cusp of being livable and practically perfect in all ways that matter. Isn’t that always the way of it?

Relocation would be better than Rob traveling or Rob having to be on some insane schedule like those husbands who work up in Fort Mac on or around the tar sands. I have a yoga teacher friend whose husband works three weeks, comes home for a four-day weekend and then heads back to work again. One of Dee’s little soccer mates has a father who is away for as long as a month at a time.  If we were young, the awesome of good money might off-set the sucky of separation for a  few years, but we are not young.

Rob and I worked the heck out of the LDR thing before we married. I daresay we were as good at it as a couple could hope to be, utilizing email, IM, and the phone to maximum advantage, but even with the addition of smartphones and Skype, maintaining an intimate relationships via technological aids is difficult. It’s like having another full-time job (if I had a job that is) and not really as good as being in physical proximity. But what is?

Dee is correct in her appraisal of the situation. It’s better when Daddy is home. Home is missing a vital component when he is not around. In a lot of ways, he is home itself.

Life is good regardless but it’s practically perfect in every way when my husband is here, and selfishly, I prefer the latter.

*And I also need to locate my big baseball bat like stick and find the hatchet that we keep in the bedroom of the holiday trailer for when we are camping in remote areas. Seriously, a nice sturdy axe does wonders for a person’s peace of mind.


Knock on Wood (film)

Image via Wikipedia

Remember not long ago when I casually mentioned that our renovation progress hinged a bit on the type and frequency of family emergencies? And that I said, we had not accounted for all those who could possibly implode and need assistance?

Okay, so we’ve dodged a bullet or three in the last week or so, but our luck did not hold.

My dear sweet mother-in-law phoned tonight to let us know that she is filing for divorce.

The details are sketchy but sad and a bit sordid. She’d sold her home. Invested in a new one in the States. All of her things are in storage and she is doing the senior citizen version of couch-surfing. Finances are bleak.

“But I will survive,” she said. “I am not going to spend my remaining days miserable.”

What this means in terms of assistance isn’t clear yet.

“You mean Dad is her only option?” Mick typed to me on Facebook in reply to a heads up message I sent to her and Edie.

“Umm, yeah,” I replied.

“I am?” Rob asked.

“What? Do you think your sister is any shape to help?”

He smiled grimly, “She’s on the verge of homeless herself. Maybe Mom can move in with her and help with the mortgage? It’d be like old times.”

I have heard about “old times” and it makes me shudder a bit. Besides, his mother has already lived a version of this with the other sister and it didn’t turn out well at all.

“You know what the worst thing about this is?” Rob said “We’ve lost a place to stay in Arizona for Christmas.”

Like we’d have ever flown to the States at Christmas. Unless someone had died. Which I am knocking wood to ward off those evil spirits even as I type.

* Thanks to furious voting in the past couple of days, I have retaken the 5th spot. I need to hang onto it until the end of the day on Thursday, so I need more votes. I know. I know. I keep saying I need more but I do. For purposes of blog exposure, making the Top Five is important. The site only shows the first five and you have to click through to the others, which is less exposure because who clicks through? I am up by about twenty votes and that’s nothing for someone to gap. I need to be up by 40 or 50. So, if you could click over and vote. Just three more days. Please? Thanks.


A local radio station has a Facebook page where they post a daily topic and invite listeners to post their two cents. Today’s topic was a tired old retreading of the false divorce stats that conservatives and ultra religious types love to trot out to support their somewhat punitive ideas about relationships and marriage.

The gist of their query was soliciting relationship advice from the listeners.

What Do You Do To Keep Your Marriage From Ending Up a Divorce Statistic?

From the predictable to the not funny came the replies, but the red herring stats fired me up enough to go and google up something resembling actual numbers and here is what I found:

  • The percentage of marriages in a given year that will end in divorce before their 30th wedding anniversary has increased slightly from 36.1 per cent in 1998 to 37.9 per cent in 2004. [3]

 

  • In 2003, the risk of divorce decreased slowly the longer a couple stayed married beyond three years. [4]

 

  • The divorce rate for first marriages is likely lower; “first marriages have a 67% chance of lasting a lifetime.” [5]

 

So while Canadians marry at fairly low rates per capita (with Alberta’s number being the highest, which is a reflection of the economy here more than anything), getting hitched is not a death knell for a relationship. In fact, statistically, you have a greater chance of splitting up if you just live together than you do if you marry the object of your affection.

Rob and I have been discussing the “living together” versus “marriage” thing recently. Apparently one of his sisters-in-law suggested to him – a month before we married – that he and I simply try living together first to “make sure it will work out”.

The worst advice you can offer a young couple is “live together for a while” because “trial marriages” actually have the worst statistical survival rates. The only non-legal arrangements that fare worse are those of couples who move in together to “save money” on rent or other bills. The only really good reason to live with someone before marrying them is love. Going into a co-habitation without love, and a commitment to a future together, is just asking for the privilege to someday argue furiously over who gets the cat or the flat screen tv.

But marriage advice. I don’t know that I’ve spent enough of my adult life married to qualify as an expert but here goes:

Shower together.

Yes, that’s it. Shower. Together. Every night if at all possible.

Okay, sure, open communication. Putting the other’s needs at the top of your to do list daily. Common interests, value systems and goals. And being able to have discussions on a wider range than simply the grocery list and the children. All important. As is, according to new studies, just being consistently kind to each other.

Showering together? Key.

Why?

Good question because I certainly didn’t shower with the late husband. But with Rob, we discovered very early that the most surefire way to touch base, in a manner of speaking, every day without fail was to take our nightly shower together. You can’t avoid conversation, eye contact and a certainly amount of physicality in a shower – just ask anyone in prison, if you don’t believe me.

With a small child, the shower became the logical “get away” when we were on holiday and cramped together in a single hotel room, and it has always been a good way to reconnect at the end of long days when other contact was limited.

I’d like to add that it’s a good way to conserve water and soap, but that just hasn’t been a side benefit.