Thursday, March 19, 2015

Married Traditions

Mostly I go to this coffee shop called Shenandoah Joe when I'm in a coffee shop sort of mood. It's my favorite cafe in Charlottesville. I come here to write, to meet friends, and when I just need to get out of the house. It's where I am writing today.

But sometimes I go to this other coffee shop which is a little less funky and a little more buttoned up. Think chairs and tables and laptops instead of vintage sofas and bespectacled customers reading paperbacks. I've gone to this other coffee shop several times in the past few months, both times on a Sunday (once because I was in the area and once because Shenandoah Joe is closed on Sundays). It's a nice, solid backup cafe. 

On the first Sunday there was this sweet middle-aged couple sitting at a table in the middle of the cafe drinking coffee and playing cards. The woman had this completely contented look on her face as she shuffled the deck. She wasn't wearing makeup and he had on an old sweatshirt and I remember thinking they looked so comfortable with each other and so happy to be sharing their Sunday afternoon over coffee and cards. It made me smile. 

The next Sunday I was there, so were they. Drinking coffee and playing their card game at the same table in the center of the cafe. I pointed them out to the friend I was with and said I'd seen them before. It seemed to be their Sunday afternoon ritual.

We gazed over at them for a minute and my newly married friend said that she had been thinking about traditions in marriage and that she'd like to start some with her husband. I said I thought that was a wonderful thing to do. But I added that some of the best traditions my husband and I share aren't the ones we thought out or intentionally planned but the ones that just were, that are. The ones that are a natural byproduct of who we are individually and together.

One of my favorites is our nightly routine. I'm a major early bird and my husband loves to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. If he came to bed with me he'd toss and turn for hours and if I came to bed with him I would become a zombie in a matter of days. Our compromise is that he "puts me to bed," as we call it--ha! Sounds funny but we think it's sweet and special. We will snuggle together and chat about our days in the dark as I get sleepy and he makes sure I have a glass of water and that my phone is charging on my nightstand before he tiptoes out. 

If I had to bet I'd say that the coffee-drinking card-playing couple didn't decide this would be their Sunday afternoon tradition. I bet they did it once or twice and it stuck and now it's as natural and established a part of their week together as Monday night Downton Abbey or Tuesday night tacos.

To me, this naturalness is as beautiful as the tradition itself. It reminds me that in its simplest form, a marriage is a shared life. A life in which you don't have to leave the warm bed to get your own glass of water and are never wanting for a Sunday afternoon card partner.


  1. This is such a sweet post. Stephen (MY Stephen...haha) and I didn't have the opportunity to do much more than coexist while I was in school and working full, for the first 2.5 years of our marriage. I often lament the time we lost, the things we missed out on as newlyweds developing new routines and traditions together. But since we have moved back to Ohio and started over in a lot of ways, I feel like we are just now getting to figure out what sorts of things will be the ones we come back to time and time again for the rest of our lives. And no, I don't think that many traditions like this are planned. But I also don't think it hurts to be intentional about creating opportunities for traditions to be formed. Spending regular time together, cherishing and appreciating the little moments that make up the bigger picture.

  2. Oh yes! Being intentional, working hard at your marriage, spending thoughtful time together, all so important! Enjoy this new birth phase of your marriage, friend. :)

  3. That nighttime routine is the most romantic. :) Off topic- I have a college friend who worked at Shenandoah Joe for YEARS.

  4. Thanks Tina :) We think so too.

    And I can see why--Shenandoah Joe is the best!


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