Neither, Nor (31 Days of Balance – Day 25)

My husband and I are homebodies. We love, love, love to be at home. There are few things we like more than getting food from somewhere (because – duh – I don’t have to cook) and watching a movie curled up on the couch. We are content living in our little house way out in the country, far away from drop-in visitors and the traffic that reminds us that we are a tiny part of a great big crazy world. We’ve created our own little world out here, and we’re quite comfortable in it.

Sometimes, though, I get cabin fever. Bad. I get cranky and frankly, I doubt my husband really likes being cooped up in that little world with me. I become irritated by the very things that I craved when I needed some down time. The rumbling purr of my cat sleeping on top of me becomes akin to nails on a chalkboard. The cozy shadows of our family room are no longer comforting, but suffocating. I need to get OUT. Out of the house. Into sunshine and wind and, possibly, the crazy company of the world from which I was once fleeing.

There has to be balance. Balance is really finding that place of neither this nor that. It’s not that extreme over there on one end of the spectrum, but it’s not that other thing on the other end, either. It’s something in the middle – that comfortable place of equilibrium. It’s the point of no extremes, but of comfort.

In our introversion, my husband and I have had to seek balance in big ways. In the early days of our marriage, we fell into the trap of isolation that befalls newlyweds sometimes. We had our own little world, and we were okay with that. We didn’t realize, though, that we were hurting ourselves. We didn’t realize until too late that we needed other people. We needed community. We needed to be in a small group of people from church who were in similar places in life. We needed one-on-one get-togethers with friends, just to talk. We needed people other than just each other.

What we deal with these days, though, is the opposite extreme. We have SO MUCH going on that we have to intentionally schedule time together. It’s every bit as deliberate as it sounds.

We have a standing, scheduled date night alone on Saturday nights. We deliberately schedule “meetings” where we sit and talk, whether it’s about nothing or something in particular. We have to do that because if we don’t, we could lose touch with each other.

Balance. It’s about not letting your marriage settle into the dangerous territory of isolation, but not letting yourselves drown in the demands of community and the outside world, either. It’s about finding a place of each of you reaching for your individual purpose while not losing sight of who you want to become as a couple. It’s about weighing every opportunity and engagement that comes our way – individually and together – to see if it fits the picture of where we are and what we want for our family

Balance. It’s a deliberate choice for neither this nor that. It’s working to find a middle ground. For us, the challenge is always to sway toward neither isolation nor excessive busy-ness. We have to deliberately make choices against our hermit nature while not allowing the opposite extreme to take hold. For your marriage it may well be something entirely different. You may be trying to find that middle ground between excessive materialism and spending nothing. Maybe it’s workaholism versus apathy. Maybe it’s something entirely different. If you don’t know what it is, take a step back and ask yourself what it is that usually irritates you about your life and marriage. If I were to answer that, I’d say I get most irritable when I need down time….or when I just need to get out of the house and do something. What is it for you?

This might be an entirely new thing for you to consider – something new for you to explore. It’s a journey. The exciting thing is that in a marriage, you get to take that journey with someone else of your choosing. It’s harder, perhaps, but it’s so worthwhile.

This is part of a 31-day series on balanced living. Click here to read the introduction to this series, and click here to read all of the posts.

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