So Brian and I have been going to counseling. It's been wonderful. One thing to know is that up here, in seminary world, most everyone is in counseling, and if you're not, your friends will tell you that you should go. There is no stigma attached to it like you might find in the South, even among Christians.
One of the things Brian and I are learning about each other is what our individual needs are when he walks through the door in the evening. We're so not on the same page throughout the day here that re-entry can be a shock if either of us has had a particularly hard go of it. And we're learning that we say we just get it and don't care if the house is a mess, but both of us get instantly more stressed if he walks in to a messy house.
So I was reminded of what Annette Johnson once told a group of us. They raised 4 kids, all born within a 6 year span (sound familiar?), and they reconnected like this. When Johnny got home, the kids knew it was Mommy/Daddy time, and he and Annette sat on the couch--uninterrupted--and caught up. Brilliant! Her encouragement to us was to make the kids understand that the marriage comes first and to get real time with your husband so that when the kids all leave you still know each other.
So for about the last 2 weeks, when we're home and Brian walks in the door, and the house is mostly straight (or not), we set the timer for 15min. and park it on the couch to hear about each other's day. I'll have to say it's made a huge difference for us. The anticipation of "our time" brings as much joy to both of us throughout the day as the 15 min. we're there. It's also good that I am eager for his return for him, not just for his help. It also lets us carve out quality time for us, not just taking the left-over time around 9pm when all the chaos settles and we're consequently wiped. Plus, I actually put on shoes and lipgloss and sometimes even think to bring a beer up from the downstairs fridge. OK, so I make one of the kids do that. But it's good. And it helps. Yay for wise counsel!