Falling In Love with My Life Again

A friend recently shared her favorite advice for keeping her marriage strong. Her method doesn’t involve sexting or Kegels or kinky sex positions. Instead, whenever she’s feeling disillusioned in her marriage, she literally walks outside of her home and looks in the window at her husband, as if she’s getting a glimpse of a stranger’s life.

While I suspect she’s a wannabe voyeur, she swears this technique helps her fall in love with her husband again.

At first, this exercise sounded like a lot of work to me, what with leaving the house and all, but after a particularly difficult afternoon with my own family, I needed to look at my life with new eyes, so I took her advice.

I stepped out our back door and slammed it as hard as I could, enjoying both the dull thump of door rejoining frame and the brittle rattle of wooden blinds bouncing off the adjacent window.

The incessant hum of the nearby air conditioners provided a cocoon of white noise, the ideal backdrop for my peeping-tom activities. The warm mid-September air still held traces of summer’s musky scent, like the lingering smell of sunscreen on skin after a shower.

I counted to ten, willing myself to forget every pre-existing frustration with my family before looking through the kitchen window.

As the late afternoon sunlight cast stripes on his lean face, I watched a man with a freshly shorn crew cut and soft crinkles around his eyes slicing a cheese pizza into small squares. The man had an easy looseness about him as he moved through the kitchen pouring milk into plastic tumblers and piling grapes in a bowl, abiding by the five-second rule on dropped food.

Two young girls, years apart in age and build, played separately across the room.

The younger child, wild brown curls tumbling across her face, appeared to be playing school. Looking up over the edge of a clipboard, she cocked her head and paused for an answer from imaginary pupils before drawing a red check mark on her notebook.

The older girl sprawled on a couch nearby reading a book, her long legs wrapped around a striped pillow. While she read, she fidgeted her toes to remove the bright pink socks covering her feet, then threw them at the younger girl, hitting her on the head and launching a firestorm of muted screams.

Moments later, when the family gathered around the counter for pizza, I wondered what the man was saying to earn his children’s rapt attention. (Perhaps he was making up a story about a strange woman who skulks around looking into people’s windows?)

The father pulled his fingers back and blew on the tips as he divided the steaming slices onto three plates. (Three? I resisted the urge to knock on the window and remind him to save me some pizza or never see me naked again.)

He helped the younger girl cut her pizza into small bites and gently brushed a sticky curl off her cheek. The older girl tapped the younger one on the shoulder and pointed down the hall, snatching a piece of pizza off her sister’s plate when she wasn’t looking.

The younger girl, bug-eyed with anger, curled her lips into an Edvard Munch-worthy scream. Even enraged, this child with spindly arms and an unusually wide mouth was strangely adorable, reminding me of a hairier version of E.T. And from a detached distance, the older girl’s actions seemed more of an awkward, playful attempt at connection rather than as mean-spirited instigation.

The father walked around the counter to give both girls a hug, stealing pizza off his older daughter’s plate and eliciting a stream of playful screams and giggles.

I glimpsed my smile reflected in the window and felt a surge of gratitude for this spirited bunch. Mission accomplished.

They're trouble but they're all mine.

They’re trouble but they’re all mine.

41 thoughts on “Falling In Love with My Life Again

  1. Such a gorgeous family. I am dying at how beautiful and radiant all three of them are– as are you. I love this idea– get a little distance to feel the gratitude. I see me spending a lot of time outside in the future! Great post.

  2. I’m glad you were able to fall in love with your family again through this practice- I think I may have fallen in love with them too! I’ve been playing around a lot with the idea lately of embracing people in the moment – without the baggage we may have with them. It’s easier said than done…but can workw hen as you put it, we’re willing to forget the pre-existing frustrations. Beautiful story and beautiful writing as always. xo

    • So much easier said than done. I have to be in just the right mood to be able to put aside anything pre-conceived about others. Yet when I do, I’m often happily surprised. People are surprising! Grateful. And thank you! ;-)

  3. Yes, it makes complete sense to just step away and have an out of body-like experience (or peeping tom) to see your family through new eyes. I think I caught my husband looking at me kind of dopey-eyed when I was reading my son a book tonight. This could have been such an experience, or maybe he just looks that way when he wants something….?

  4. What a fascinating idea. Sort of sounds like the beginning to a good novel. . . maybe she (the character, not YOU) looks in another window instead. What if she wants to try that version of a life instead . . . ?? The possibilities in this storyline are endless! But I like your conclusion here for REAL life.

  5. Love it- just LOVE it!! Such a great idea… step away and detach from your world to look from the outside in. Pretty big reality check, eh? Yeah… we got a lot to be grateful for!!! XO

  6. Oh, I can just see me trying to peep into my own windows! Great image! But I totally get what you mean. We do have to step back sometimes. Thanks for this reminder. Beautiful family.

  7. What a great way to see your life and love! I’d try it, but we live in a third floor walk up and if I was milling around in the courtyard with binoculars, I might end up looking at my life through metal bars…..

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