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In family circus, save a spotlight for spouse

Published March 26, 2006

My husband was propped up in bed, reading the novel Wicked, when I told him I had some paperwork to do before coming to bed.

"But I miss you," he protested. That might sound like a strange thing to say to someone you live with, but over the years that's been our code for, "I need your time and attention" - things that have been in particularly short supply since we had a baby and began working opposite schedules.

So I snuggled up to Wayne and we talked - about things going on at work, about 5-month-old Toby's latest accomplishments, about the movies playing at the drive-in that weekend. Eventually we drifted off to sleep.

Then, at 6:30 a.m., the phone woke me up. It was Wayne. He had been in a car accident on his way to work.

He said he was fine, although he was sore and shaken. A careless driver had blown through a red light at Little and Fivay roads and plowed into my husband's car. The passenger side of our green Honda Civic was smashed.

As I got ready to pick Wayne up, I was shaken, too. But I was grateful that he was okay, that no one else was hurt, that the accident wasn't his fault, that the other guy had insurance.

And I remember being especially grateful that I had spent the previous evening cuddling and chatting with my husband instead of taking care of paperwork.

Every once in a while, life brings you a reminder of the importance of making time for those you love. You never know what the next day might bring.

My husband's accident was a particularly poignant reminder for me, because I've spent the past few months juggling so many things - taking care of Toby, reading up on his needs, meeting deadlines at work and handling the steady stream of laundry and meals - that I sometimes fail to make quality time for hubby. Of course every family struggles with that. The parenting magazines are full of articles suggesting everything from date nights to exchanging small, thoughtful gifts once a week (gee, no pressure).

I know concerted efforts are necessary. But I hate the thought of putting "time with hubby" on a to-do list. It seems like quality time should be more seamless than that.

One article made the practical suggestion of running errands together over the weekend, so you can spend that time with your spouse.

Most weekends our idea of quality time is a quick lunch, a trip to Publix and a TV movie - and that's fine. It's a low-key way to enjoy each other's company. I also keep an eye out for baby-friendly outings, like drive-in movies (Toby sleeps nicely at those) or last month's Shakespeare by the River festival at Sims Park.

Still, there are the other unscheduled moments when your spouse needs you to put down the bills, forget the laundry, step away from the circus of family life and give him your attention. He needs it.

So do you.

I know Wayne thinks this column is long overdue: "All I had to do was get in a car accident?" he jokes.

Well, yeah.

Just the previous week, another reporter and I were marveling at the fact that, whenever we write about someone unexpectedly losing a loved one, the survivor always says something like, "The last thing I told him was, "I love you."' I cynically wondered, how come it's never, "Your snoring kept me up last night" or "Could you pick up some bread on the way home?" Do people really manage to say "I love you" before disaster strikes?

But, as I discovered a week later, if they're lucky, they somehow do.

--Bridget Hall Grumet can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is

[Last modified March 26, 2006, 00:26:15]

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