After almost 12 years of marriage and four kids together, I still make a point to kiss my husband every chance I get. Our lips may meet over a baby changing table or in the middle of the morning rush, and it may only last for a brief second, but it's so important that we make this physical connection as often as possible. Because I need to know that no matter how crazy things get, and no matter how far away we get from those (really young!) people who said "I do," we're still in there somewhere — just him and me — and still in love.
I didn't always think kissing my husband was important. I definitely let the chaos of life and raising a family take away from the relationship that started it all. Most nights, by the time my husband got home from work and we both finally fell into bed, I was too exhausted to even think about grabbing him for a mini make-out session. We were comfortable, and simple pecks just went out the window.
But my husband would still always want to kiss me when he came in the door. It amazed me he still found me cute in days-old yoga pants and no makeup. But, he always did. I'm ashamed to admit that I'd sometimes pull away, protesting that I hadn't brushed my teeth after I'd inhaled the mac 'n cheese my kids didn't eat. Then, hours later, after baths, snacks, "one more drink of water!", and reading countless bedtime stories to our kids, I'd fall asleep beside the man I married, secretly lamenting about how we'd lost that loving feeling. Ironic, huh?
Then, about a year ago, due to work commitments, my husband started spending the week out of town. I haven't seen him on a nightly basis in months. And you better believe I want to kiss him when we have to say goodbye for the week. Oh, that kiss. That kiss! The passion behind it surprised me at first. But I find this is how we often communicate all the things we can't say, because kids are crying, or because there's just a quick moment in between ushering one to the bathroom and helping another one with a last-minute homework question. With my OK-you-are-out-the-door-see-you-in-a-week kiss, I'm telling him I still love him. And that being apart is brutal. But I'm also telling him I'll be right here waiting for him when he gets back.
His kiss tells me so much, too. That he still (still!) desires me, even without makeup, and with more gray hair. How he doesn't want to leave, as much as I don't want him to go. His kiss hello at the end of the week is just as full of feeling. I taste his relief. I sense the same gratitude I feel to be back together, reunited in the beautiful mayhem of our lives, that maybe, just maybe, I took for granted before.
I wish it hadn't taken a physical separation to remind me how important it is to stay physically connected to the man I married. But over these months, I've learned countless late-night phone calls after the kids are in bed can't measure up to that moment I get to be in the same room as my husband, and kiss him. It's typically a quickie, surrounded by kids who want our attention, too. Yet in that moment, I am reconnected to all the reasons I married this man. I'm thinking, "Yup, you're still in there. And so am I." I am reminded that no matter how many miles separate us, no matter how much older we get, whether I'm showered, or shaved (ha! never), if I feel sexy, or dowdy, or desirable, this man loves me. And I love him.
Talking is vital, yes. But it's also in the kiss. It's in that effort to connect in a way only a couple can. So, I no longer shy away when my husband pulls me close. I lean in. Into the opportunity to be a woman, and a wife, and not a mom. To be wanted, to be loved. Even if it's only for a second, it's so affirming. It's revitalizing. And, note to my hubby, make sure it's a good kiss! I need your best romantic, sexy, yummy, lip-to-lip to get me through the next 48 diaper changes, temper tantrums, and fruit snack-laden carpools until you get home to kiss me again.