I’m well into my first week of hotel living, and I have to say, it’s grand. I’ve never been one to pine after my “own bed.” I’ve always preferred trying out new beds; beds that offer the potential of something better - fluffier pillows, softer sheets, loftier comforters. I’m also not (ahem) the neatest person, and neither is Josh. So the fact that someone else makes our bed every single morning, hospital corners and all, is fabulous.
Most of my friends, who do not share my perspective, have reached out to express their condolences. “We’re praying for you,” they say, to which I reply, “Thanks – what for?” I am genuinely confused as to why anyone wouldn’t choose this life if they could. They, however, think that I’m being super spiritual about it. “Way to turn lemons into lemonade!” they say, as I happily sip said drink, which someone else served me, poolside.
Now that we’re 6.5 days into it, I am starting to notice a few downsides - though I’m embarrassed to admit what they are. In ascending order of annoyance: 1) I’m over eating the same breakfast buffet each morning, 2) they serve Diet Pepsi instead of Diet Coke in the Club Lounge, and 3) I’m required to take our golden retriever, Jack, everywhere I go. Apparently, he isn’t allowed to be left “unsupervised” in the room, so he’s my heavy-breathing, seriously shedding sidekick, every moment of every day, until we’re back in our own home.
My only legitimate concern over living in what amounts to a studio apartment (minus anything useful), is doing so with Josh. Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband, and want nothing more than to spend as much time with him as I can. But to say that we had “our own lives” before we met each other is an understatement. Part of the reason we work so well as a couple is that we’re both independent people who love our solitude. On any given night, he’s downstairs playing the guitar or watching reruns of Arrested Development, and I’m upstairs reading or writing. Sometimes, I go to bed first; other times, he does. Neither of us is affected by what the other does or does not do, because there’s plenty of room for each of us to “do us” in our own house – separately.
A hotel room, on the other hand, allows for none of this. If I wake up, so does he. If I need to work, he can’t watch tv. If he’s showering, I have to wait until he’s done before I can blow out my hair. There are no second bathrooms to get ready in. There are no places we can go to cool off after a tiff. Every hiding place we had in our home is now demo’d. We’re a couple, living with one very furry golden retriever, in very close quarters - and we’re going to have to learn to work together as a unit.
This arrangement will either go well, or poorly. As an only child who married late in life, I’m pretty set in my ways, and so is Josh (maybe even more so, given his “advanced” age). I can also be stubborn, as can Josh. So really, it’s up to us as to whether this experience brings us closer (emotionally, obviously – since physically, we’re stuck), or makes us miserable.
So far, it’s going well. But so far, I’ve been traveling a lot for work, and so has Josh. While he was gone earlier this week, I got into a new little morning routine of praying, reading my devotional, having breakfast with my step daughter, and taking Jack for a stroll. The first morning he returned, all of that fell to the wayside. Josh wanted to sleep in, and I wanted my routine – potential conflict #1. I decided not to disturb him, and stayed in bed - praying, reading Jesus Calling, and catching up on email. Could I have gone about my day as usual? Sure. But I chose, instead, to defer to his need for sleep, and stayed in bed so that he could. Unity = 1.
Then, this morning, Josh decided to go for a bike ride at 6am. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm clock went off at 6:30, just as he was headed out. The little flashlight on his phone was on, and he poked around in the darkness of our blackout curtained room, looking for his water bottle. I couldn’t help but notice how cute he was in his cycling outfit. I also appreciated that he’d used the flashlight on his phone to look for what he needed, rather than turn on a lamp, which would have made it a whole lot easier for him, but would have also woken me up. Unity = 2.
It may be a little too early to declare it, but I’m just gonna go ahead and do so anyway: we’re on a roll!
Now whether we stay on this “unity train” is entirely up to us – and the only part of “us” that I can control, is me. So I’ve decided to ask God every morning to help us turn this three or four month hotel stint into a blessing beyond those I’ve already identified. Yes, I love having someone else clean up after me (and him). Yes, I love not having to cook or putting away dishes. Yes, I love not taking out the trash. But I’m believing for so much more than that.
When we first moved into this hotel, I honestly thought this experience was just going to be a physical one. With every passing day, however, I’m realizing that it's really more of a spiritual and relational one. How we engage each another in this 400 square foot room will test my faith and affect our marriage, for better or worse. I'm obviously praying for "better," but the choice is still ours – or more specifically, mine - every moment of every day.
God, help me to be the one who raises our game, every housework-free, Jack-filled, poolside lemonade day that we're here.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you. – Matthew 7:12