I won't say that I'd have our lives set up any other way if I had the choice. It's not as if I'd wish I had a cubicle to stuff myself into every day so I'd really know what I was missing. On the contrary, there are those mornings when the temperature is just right and neither of us is too buried with work and we'll pack up the computers and go for a walk or hit the thrift stores. There are the afternoons spent at the park with Mattias, chasing ducks and filling our shoes with sand, but I guess when I imagined working from home, I expected to end up doing a lot more of that than I actually do.
The reality is that we don't work any less because we are on our own schedules. In some ways, we end up doing more because there is no one there to tell us to go home, unplug, and get a real life. My laptop stays running about three feet from my spot on the couch most every minute of every day I'm awake. Amy has joked about being jealous of the time I spend with my Toshiba, but she's only halfway kidding.
As for Amy, a minister never really takes off from work. The next phone call might be a life-or-death crisis, and people aren't really forward- thinking enough about when they die to plan around your date nights. A church member is just as likely to have a stroke at 3 a.m. on Friday as they are to call with news of a new job right in the middle of lunch. Your availability is part of what people are paying for in giving a minister a full-time salary. Just what is meant by "full time" isn't always exactly clear, but it has something to do with being available when people need you, which is anytime, anywhere.
So we both have careers that allow us, in some ways, to be more present to one another and, in other ways, to always have one half of our brain committed to something else.
Back to date night. This particular Friday night, we had arranged for a babysitter to come take care of Mattias and made plans to visit our favorite restaurant in town. In Pueblo, Colorado, where we live, you basically have two choices when it comes to dining anywhere other than in a chain restaurant, so you'd better like Mexican or Italian food. Turns out, fortunately for us, that we like both.
On the rare occasions when we have the chance to share a whole night with each other, it's also a special treat to share a bottle of our favorite Chianti. The only thing I love more than homemade Italian food with a glass of Chianti is sharing the two with a hot chick. As a man who has been married nearly eight years—and who would like to shoot for many more to come—I would never suggest that there's a single minute of any day when my wife is not attractive, but this night was one of those nights that provided extra opportunity for me to reflect on my spouse's natural beauty.
It doesn't take a genius to see where this night ended up, but I should back up and address the first point about how much the rhythm method sucks. This so-called contraception method involves mapping out your partner's menstrual cycles so you know which days of the month are safer than others to have sex without protection. And though we're Protestants, we knew it was the favored strategy for horny Catholics and Mormons who, by mandate of their faith, are not allowed to use condoms or other birth control, but who still like to doink as much as others.
Amy had stopped taking her pill back in January following the "screw it" conversation. For a few months, I wavered between moderate acceptance and near impotence- inducing anxiety about the realization that any amorous encounter could have a much bigger payoff than the average romp. In fact, my own discomfort with the pressure got to be so bad that we had just had a conversation a couple of weeks prior about exploring other methods of birth control, since it's not a good idea for a woman to go on and off the pill very often.
In an effort to help me feel better, Amy had discreetly printed out a calendar of her projected ovulation times, complete with the most fertile days highlighted in yellow so you knew either to target them or avoid them, depending on your intentions. I guess the combination of knowing, based on this piece of paper, that she should not have been ovulating, combined with the emboldening effect of a half a bottle of wine, made me feel like kicking things up a notch once we got home. Sounded like a great idea to me.
"You know what?" I said, as we lay together on the couch after the babysitter drove herself home, "We really should have sex, don't you think?"
Another thing I truly love about my wife is that she never takes a roundabout invitation to sex as a rhetorical question. She was practically undressed before I got "don't you think" out of my mouth. And don't get me wrong, it was the perfect end to our first date night in more than a month.
Do I think Amy manipulated her ovulation calendar on purpose in order to lull me into sleeping with her? Of course not. That's just not the kind of relationship we have. Sure, go ahead and be cynical if you want, but as stressed out as I may be about having another baby, there's not a single part of me that thinks Amy did this to me. I have control over my own body parts, where they go and what they do. Now I may have a little worse judgment after three glasses of Chianti, but I still can't blame that on anyone but myself.