My wife and I were watching the movie Grown Ups this weekend. The characters were talking about relationships and marriage when this pearl of wisdom came out: "In life, the first act is always exciting but it is the second act -- that's where the depth comes in."
Immediately, my wife chimed in, "That's US babe, we're in the second act." I countered, "I don't want to be in the second act. Why can't we still be in the first act?" I wasn't really joking. Sure, we met 20 years ago this month. We've been together ever since, now married 13 years, with two kids and a dog and a pretty happy life. But the second act? How did it happen all of a sudden that we went from young couple just starting our lives together... to married couple... on our way to old married couple. I'm not ready for the second act yet. We still haven't used some of our wedding gifts.
The big question I have is how we can keep the first act going for longer... Can we?
In the first act, we went on getaways at a moment's notice -- New York City, Savannah Georgia, Washington DC. In the first act, we had money to splurge on fancy holiday gifts and concerts and Broadway shows for each other. In the first act, we didn't have to worry about kids if we wanted to get amorous in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend in the middle of the living room or somewhere else, for that matter. The first act was exciting and fun and unpredictable.
In the second act we plan each getaway. Carefully. Our money, like many working family's, is spoken for when it comes to bills and expenses for the kids and a mortgage. In the second act, with our working schedules, we've pretty much identified Sunday night around 10 p.m. after "The Good Wife" as a good time to find some alone time together. The second act is a carefully choreographed family maneuver of many moving pieces just to make sure we don't leave a child somewhere on any given day.
Hold up. Intermission. The second act for us is also two wonderful kids. The second act is one daughter who thought enough to sew a doll for her sister. The second act is watching the joy my wife gets being around her two girls... or the pride I get when they grab my hand to hold it just one more time. The second act is teaching them to ride bikes, watching them play with their toys, seeing them grow out of each little outfit. The second act is my wife excelling at an inner city charter school where she helps these kids get into college. The second act is me excelling in my journalism career and now having four Emmys -- even if the kids use them to hold their My Little Ponies. OK, so maybe the second act really IS the "depth" as my wife and I start to see the life we've built with each other.
I'm not much for New Year's resolutions but this year, I have one: To try and keep some elements of the first act as we forge ahead in the second act. This past weekend, I surprised my wife with tickets to Evita. It was the first show we had been to in forever. Maybe if I put my mind to it, we can recapture the spark. Maybe, just maybe, the second act can be just as good... if not better... than the first.
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