This morning was the first time K and I sat across the table from each other in a long time. He’s been in the thick of summer camp busyness since early May, and as such our time together is usually either very early in the morning or very late at night. But today, on his day off, we got to sit across the table from one another. We didn’t even talk really, but enjoyed quiet fellowship with one another as we had our separate quiet times. Actually, I’ve since moved into my office to write up these thoughts real quick, but every so often I hear him clear his throat in the other room, still at the table, still reading the bible. Makes my heart so warm.
Staring across the table at him this morning I realized how special this kind of time is, and how valuable the space that makes it possible. Our little green kitchen table has been a player in our marriage for a long time, from when we first came home from the honeymoon and shared our first meal together (take home Torchey’s tacos, thank you very much) to this morning, fellowshipping silently while sipping coffee and reading the bible. I remember picking out this little green farm table at an antique store outside Austin when we were engaged. I saw it, sat at it, and pondered if this was the one for quite a long time. Since then, it’s been a sweet space for a lot of good nights (and bad, too). But the bad nights, I’ve found, are just as important as the good ones. 🙂
So with all this in mind, I’ve decided to write up my second installment of “3 Ways” with your kitchen (or dining room) table in mind! If you’d like to read the first installment (featuring your nightstand) you can do that here!
3 Ways Your Table Can Honor Your Marriage
1. Use it. This might seem like kind of an obvious idea, but for us this has actually been a novel concept. After a long day, it is so easy to scrap together a quick dinner (or even spend time and energy on dinner) and then plop down together in the living room in front of the TV. It’s easy, it’s entertaining, it feels restful (I’d argue that after a certain point it is a counterfeit kind of rest) and it can become habitual. To actually use the table as we share a meal, for us, is hard because it takes effort. At the end of the day all we want to do is chill. To sit at the table means to engage, and yes, that requires energy. You’re either talking and listening to one another, or you’re quietly eating together, not talking but still very much in your own mind, not numbed out by some kind of mindless entertainment. As hard as it may feel just to use the table to share a meal, we’ve discovered every time that it was worth the effort. With nothing to look at but our plate and the other person’s face, it forces us to dig a little deeper than just, “how was your day?” We end up reflecting, asking questions, prying into ideas, reminiscing on old stories, or dreaming about new ones. Additionally, our little green table has countless times been the counselor that guided us to work through an argument or some marital issue. To sit at the table and dine together can truly be a discipline, and to engage together can certainly be a sacrifice of comfort. But those two things always pay off highly in the long run. For us, I’ve found that to choose the easy route every time (TV, couches) is to choose to invest in temporary comfort and solace that soon expires (basically as soon as we turn off the TV), and to choose the table for a meal was choosing to invest in the future of our marriage, which has proven to be much more profitable. (*Note, I’m not saying that the TV and couches are the enemies here. There are certainly days and times for dinner and a movie. Those days can be really nice. I am saying that only TV and couches while sharing a meal has proven to be less fruitful for our marriage than mixing in evenings at the table – having a good balance has been crucial.)
2. Make it sacred. Another way the kitchen table can honor your marriage is to make it sacred and special. When we sit at the table, phones are no where in sight, the Apple watch is bye bye, and the TV is off. We do like to play some happy music (John Mayer and Ed Sheeran are our dinner table go-to’s). Another great idea is to set it apart by making it lovely. If the table is also a work-space, clear it off of all computers, drifting pieces of paper, writing utensils, etc. Adding a vase of flowers and some candles can make it special, too. Honoring the physical table in this way serves to likewise honor the forthcoming fellowship. It is special. It is intentional. It is rare. Making the table a sacred space for that fellowship is a great way to usher in even more memorable evenings enjoying one another’s presence. And tip – a great way to do this is just grab a bunch of flowers when you’re at the grocery store and boom, you’ve delighted your table for a week! But we’ve had times when even buying flowers at the grocery store was too much for our budget. You don’t need to spend a lot to make the table sacred. I love to use springs of lavender, rosemary, basil and mint cut from my potted plants (oregano also looks pretty, though it smells savory!). What’s fun about using herbs is that they will look pretty and stay alive in a vase of water for a really long time. But what if you don’t have potted plants? You could use cuttings of trees and shrubs in the park, wildflowers on the side of the road, or even get creative and use some candles and rocks you find on a walk to create a unique centerpiece. My point is you don’t need a lot of money or fancy decor to make your table look and feel special.
3. Make it a priority. Life is insane, isn’t it? It’s so easy to find that weeks have gone by and we haven’t shared a proper meal together. We try to fight this chaos of life by prioritizing at least one night a week where we plan around having time at the table. Before summer, it used to be Sunday nights. We’d plan to spend time together every Sunday evening at the table, over a meal, talking about our week, our finances, and our hearts. And each Sunday, as we talked about schedules, we’d make a plan for the next week, and agree on the set aside time for the next table meeting we’d have together the following Sunday. Having this plan in advance and prioritizing that time together gave both of us such a feeling of safety and comfort in our marriage. It helped us to be on the same page, it helped us to feel unified and connected, and it helped us to feel known by one another. Those Sunday check-ins become something that we each refer back to when it’s the middle of the week and things are insane. The feeling of living two separate lives really begins to dissipate when we have those weekly meetings together. We’ve found that prioritizing our weekly table check-ins has been a secret to learning to communicate really well.
So that’s three ways your table can honor your marriage! There are certainly many more ways, but those three have proven to be incredibly helpful and fruitful in my marriage to Kenton. I really love this series, so I think I’ll keep writing these “3 Ways” posts! If you have ideas on what other home spaces you’d like to read about and how they can honor your marriage, please write them in the comments below! I’d love to know your thoughts!