The songs of John Mayer have been my musical spirit animal since he first released the album Room for Squares almost immediately after my high school graduation and No Such Thing became my angsty anthem for that momentous life transition.
Say what you will about his personal life/decisions/romantic pursuits/etc., but the man can play an undeniably mean guitar and write a heckuva catchy pop song. One of his newer offerings1 is a throwaway puppy love song called Love on the Weekend.
The reason I bring this up today–on Valentine’s Day–is because the emotions expressed in the lyrics remind me so much of my early dating days with Theresa and the intense feelings we had of simply being addicted to each other’s company. We lived for our weekends together and also squeezed in as much time together during the week as we possibly could. We never wanted dates to end. We texted each other incessantly when we weren’t physically together. There is a Shutterfly book with a full two-page spread of the stupid selfies we would send to each other.
Once we got married and moved in together, this intensity showed no signs of stopping–now we would have even more “couple time.” We knew we must be better than every other married couple because these feelings would obviously never fade in us. We would never take each other for granted or grow bored of one another. Sure, we had fights, but the overall theme of our household was excitement over the fact that we got to live with, laugh with and love our best friend in the world–for the rest of our lives.
I sometimes think about what this pandemic might have looked like for us if it had happened back then. Two starry-eyed lovers forced by the government to stay indoors and even work from home together. I can see our two work laptops set up as close as possible next to each other on the dining room table each day. I can imagine the lack of productivity.
I can see a poster on our kitchen wall with tally marks of who was winning our ongoing, pandemic-long Settlers of Catan tournament. I can imagine myself counting the number of tally marks on my side of the poster with just one hand.
I can see our Google spreadsheet of all the TV shows and movies we watched over the last year based on friends’ recommendations and various must-watch lists we found online. I can imagine the Google Map of all the biking routes we would have traversed this past summer. I can envision the creative ways we would have arranged social gatherings with our friends in a safe and socially distant manner. I can picture the Murder Mystery Zoom party and Zoom Trivia Nights we would have worked together to produce and execute.
It’s been hard, to say the least. It’s been lonely, even when our house is a party of five instead of a newlywed duo. It’s been exhausting by any metric you can think to measure–emotionally, physically, mentally, creatively, relationally, maritally. Parentally.
I’m under no illusions that our honeymoon phase would have remained forever or even endured the constant cohabiting proximity of a global pandemic. But I do think that becoming parents so quickly and so many times over has taught us a lot about the evolving nature of marital love in a short period of time.
Even though the basic tenets of Catholic marriage vows and every parenting book in the world instruct you to do the opposite, there’s no way around it: When you have kids, there is an automatic diminishing of your relationship with your partner.
They tell you that your heart will grow three sizes that day every time you have another kid, but they neglect to mention that the blood pressure goes up, too. And having the biggest heart in the world doesn’t add more hours to the day or increase the swiftly closing window of time you have to spend with your spouse, much less the amount of time you spend together when you both feel awake and vaguely human.
Love on the weekend? That song has become a dream to me of a time that I can barely remember. But, man, do I love to try. And fortunately for us, the echoes are still there.
The aftershocks of that all-encompassing, obsessive love that we shared at the outset of our marriage are what hold us together in these years of leaner love–when our attention is turned rightfully outward to the helpless little humans we brought to this pandemic-plagued earth.
In these times, love is a struggle–and we show our love by struggling for one another. Selfies have given way to selflessness. Rather than spending a lot of quality time together, we are more often spotting each other quality time to spend by ourselves–so I can run on the treadmill uninterrupted after I finish work for the day or Theresa can sleep in on weekend mornings since she’s had all three kids largely on her own all week. That’s the best kind of love on the weekend that I can give her right now.
Hopefully readers of this post are savvy enough to know that we both take great joy in this stage of life3 but there’s something about the arrival of Valentine’s Day this particular year at this particular time that is making me gag at the “traditional” images of hearts and candy even more than I did when I thought I was going to be single forever.4
Our lives are not easy right now, and there’s no point in pretending that they are on Valentine’s Day. The fact remains, however, that our love for one another is what helps get us out of bed each day. It’s what makes us look for ways to lighten each other’s loads, even when our own loads seem impossibly heavy in their own right.
This journey started with a lovesick couple that couldn’t get enough of each other. And we still can’t get enough of each other, but at the moment there’s just a lot less that hasn’t already been claimed by something or someone else.
So we struggle. Because that’s what love is.
Someone needs to tell John Mayer.
- Welp, I guess it’s 5 years old. That still feels new to me…
- Well, also I got cancer in the first six months of our marriage anyway, so this pandemic fan fiction is truly a fantasy.
- and this blog has the sickeningly sweet ruminations to prove it
- basically my entire 20s