40-Day Challenge: Night (Day 22)

Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

When I first laid out the plan for these 40 Days, “U” stood for “underwear,” how the condition and style of one’s intimate apparel says something about your attitude toward marriage. Then I opened my own delicates drawer and realized I was the LAST one to say anything on the subject. Except: Victoria’s husband must be one lucky guy.

Night (can’t believe we’re up to “N” already!) is another test of marriage: how the nighttime falls in our homes. Somedays it’s a ticklish flutter: the children in bed, the cell phones off (with any luck, the computer, too), the last cup of tea or a sip of wine. He tells you about his day, you tell him about yours. Soon it is time for bed and all that entails. Sometimes it’s more like Elie Wiesel’s version: suffering and loneliness, a churning, mind-spinning sea of frustration and, on the worst days, anger and regret. More of a slam than a flutter.

Growing up, I had a front row seat to my parents’ special routine (I’ll spare you the details, except to say it wasn’t the kind of thing that would have put us in therapy) that they always did together. There was no such thing as a master bath that house – my parents shared a bathroom with the rest of us, and the walls talked. So we overheard this daily intimacy from the respectful distance of our respective rooms. It set the bar of my expectations pretty high (gotta be careful with those expectations, right?).

Yes, “N” stands for “night.” “Nakedness,” too (and not just the physical kind). Naked and not ashamed. There are times in every marriage when sex is on “hold” due to illness or exhaustion, but it can do real damage if we withdraw from that daily intimacy in which loving hearts are joined. The kind where, if one is struggling, the other soothes. If one is missing, the other can’t sleep ’cause it’s just too quiet on the other side of the bed.

You can get through most things in the daylight hours, as long as you have that night ahead.

Today’s Challenge:  Pick a book you’ve always meant to read, and for one week, turn off the television and take turns reading to one another. (If you need an idea, try Sheldon Vanauken’s A Severe Mercy.) Don’t forget to “pretty up” before you slip between the sheets.

Today’s Prayer:  God, thank you for my husband and my children. Thank you for the daylight — but most especially, thank you for the night when we all sleep “under the mercy.” Amen.