When they moved to Puyallup though, few of the old habits worked any more. In the middle of the demands of his new practice, finding a new home, and settling in to a new church family, Dolly and Ethan had to find a new rhythm. A new way of making marriage work.
It turns out, flexibility is the key.
“I wasn’t much help while I was in school; frankly, I wasn’t even home much. Now that I’m no longer in school, I’m home much more often. I’ve had to learn how to help Dolly, and how to take care of our kids so she could have a break.”
These days, you won’t find Ethan off camping or hunting with the guys; he doesn't pursue a bunch of his own hobbies. “With our kids this young, they are my primary hobby. They are what we do. We know it won’t be like this forever; but for now, they are our focus.” In fact, Ethan has only recently taken up his first adult hobby; he trying to learn to play golf.
As for marriage? “I find that we treasure those few minutes between the time we get the kids in bed and the end of our evening. We sit on the couch together and talk—first about our day, and then about the deeper things that are going on around and inside of us.”
Ethan isn’t embarrassed to call Dolly his best friend.
Sometimes during that magic hour together, they watch television; sometimes they read while sitting on the couch together. “It’s not like we sit there staring deeply into one another’s eyes,” Ethan laughs. “Sometimes we share the things we discover in books and articles, and I find myself listening to Dolly read something she found exciting or challenging.”
While Ethan and Dolly don’t follow the prescribed methods recommended in the latest marriage books, they’ve found what works for them. “No one in my life will ever know me the way that Dolly does. I feel completely safe with her. She is my big motivator.” Those quiet evenings alone in the family room have become the anchor for their relationship. Life together isn’t what it used to be, but to Dr. Ethan, it’s just the way it he likes it.
What about you? What is the thing you and your spouse share that keeps your relationship alive?
Dr. Ethan Larson,
(With Bette Nordberg)