Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Letter to Joy: That Thing We Do

Every Monday my wife Joy and I are participating in a little writing project called Marriage Letters started by Seth and Amber Haines in an effort to encourage other married couples in the hard work of relationships. This week we wrote on nightly rituals. (Don’t miss Joy’s letter here.)

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Dear Joy,

I have to admit: I have a little tinge of guilt every time we do it.

It happens on many nights, right after we tuck the kids in bed. We close their doors behind us (well, except Anna’s, because she insists on keeping hers cracked). We slide into our modest, comfy pajamas, saunter back out to the family room, plop down on opposite ends of the couch, fire up our respective laptops and stare longingly into their mesmerizing glow for the next 2 to 3 hours.

We occasionally talk, and occasionally share things on our screen with each other, in our own geeky, giggly way. Sometimes—or dare I say, often—we even find ourselves simultaneously on Facebook, posing as dueling commenters on the latest status of one of our friends. It’s sad, but true.

I guess it’s par for the course, since we both seem to be wired that way (pun intended). Some of our very first conversations as a couple took place on that chat room site in college … oh, what was it called … Cactus? My handle was Linguine. Yours was ReesesPBC. I still remember how my heart would skip a beat when your status would switch to “Active.” Yep, we’re geeks.

In our own defense, on most nights we have legitimate reasons to be dueling laptoppers on the couch. Sometimes I have work to finish up, or the church website to update. You’re putting the finishing touches on a post that goes up early the next morning, and the ending isn’t quite coming together for you. You need that time, as do I.

And there’s something great about being so comfortable with a person that you don’t feel the need to fill the room with words when you’re together. Being under the same roof is enough. I do believe we have a mutual vibe that everything’s OK when we engage in duel laptopping. We never do it if there’s any tension between us. If there is, we use the time to talk it out.

But I sense that we sometimes slide into our dueling laptop routine not for legitimate reasons, but for leisure. Those are the nights I think, “Gosh, we’re pretty sad sitting here on separate laptops having a Facebook conversation with two people on opposite sides of the world. How did this happen?

A little bit of that is OK (I think). But the truth is, I much prefer the more, oh, relational things we do together. Like when we read aloud to each other, or have face-to-face conversations during those last 2 hours of the day about how we’re doing spiritually. Or when we spoon on the *gasp* SAME side of the couch and watch a movie. And how, early in the movie, you gaze at me with those eyes that can only mean you want one thing: popcorn.

My point is this: we should be more deliberate in discerning when we need to be on the computer and when we want to be on the computer. Let’s commit to declare a night (or two, or three) of the week to be laptop-free. And you might as well throw mobile devices in there, too, which can be an equally formidable distraction.

Thousands of healthy distractions are always going to vie for our attention—not just today, but as long as we live. Let’s work on giving them the cold shoulder and getting to know each other on a deeper level, day by day.

Besides, you’re much more fun to look at. ;-)

Here’s lookin’ at you, my love,


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