“One cannot collect all the beautiful shells on the beach. One can collect only the few, and they are more beautiful if they are few. One moon shell is more impressive than three. There is only one moon in the sky.” Ann Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From the Sea

Peering in one telescope after another, I was as astonished as every other astronomer-for-a-night at the Oregon Observatory last week. Adults and children alike waited excitedly for their turn to gawk a galaxy, a cluster, or a nebula: innumerable stars on an infinite canvas. The most impressive aspect of the observable cosmos, at least to me, was the sheer magnitude of the numbers: time, distance, and quantity—represented, not on paper in abstract—but by tangible, living bodies; worlds I hardly knew, or could ever know, yet…should I know? Something deep and far away told me that since I was connected, even related, to every one of those stars, it would be so cool—I mean, neighborly to the extreme—to at least know their names.

But my turn was up. The pre-adolescent boys behind me were chomping at the bit, so I made my way down the stepladder and turned the biggest of the telescopes over to them, even as Honey waved me over to the much smaller piece of equipment he’d been gazing through. This time, I went straight to the head of the line because there was no line.

“Look at this,” Honey said. “It’ll knock your socks off.”

It did.

It sent my socks, hat, and preconceived notions into the stratosphere.

The moon, our closest galactic neighbor, filled the entire lens.

The moon!

With an Apollo astronaut’s intimate proximity, I could see, even scrutinize, craters and mountains and plains. Oh my. Detail like I’d never imagined was revealed and emphasized by shadow and light—although half of the moon remained pitch black. Later on I learned how fortunate that was. If we’d happened onto a “full” moon, the “full” sun would have obliterated the more subtle features I could now (ironically), in the half dark, fully appreciate.

My Honey and I have been very busy this year. Our careers and our growing multi-generational family, (plus home and community responsibilities), keep us constantly hopping from one person and project to the next, like lunar leapers with little gravity. We love it, and yet…we both could sense it was time to come back to earth this summer: our earth, the one where he’s the only man and I’m the only woman and everything and nothing revolves around us.

So, that’s where we’ve been. For most of July. (And by the way, there’s no phone, no email, no Facebook on our planet.) The wonder in this type of concentrated couple time—when all other relationships are eclipsed by the gigantic nearness of one single person—is that I am reminded not only of the mouth-dropping detail in his personality (which I tend to skim over or take for granted otherwise), but I am also reminded of the glaring fact of his unique importance, even his pre-eminence. For here is the too-easily-forgotten-truth…

Although it’s a beautiful blessing to love and to be loved by so many; that is, to be involved in numberless lives other than my own in one way or another, to one degree or another; none of those lives, none of the many, has the day-to-day-to-day-to-day-to-infinity-and-beyond-impact on me personally, that my spouse has.

Like the moon, he is ever-present—even just the fact of him when we’re not in the same room or hemisphere. He is forever filling the sky, exerting an invisible force that pulls and tugs at my moods, the way the tidal moon pulls and tugs at the ocean. It’s so natural, so integral to life, I cannot resist the attraction. We gravitate toward one another; keeping each other in balance; indeed, in life-sustaining orbit, at every turn.

But the best part, on the best nights—that is, when we’re in high altitude, and the air is crystal clear—is the way his pure presence comes through my window. I fall asleep, perfectly loved.

No distant star or millions of stars can ever, will ever, do that.

There is only one moon.

And he’s mine.

“One sets it apart by itself, ringed around by space­–like the island… For it is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant–and therefore beautiful.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift From The Sea

Make Space for Your Spouse

1. Imagine your To-Do-List glad to have a break from your scribbles and scrutiny, wishing you a good time! We all start out thinking it’s so wonderful to be our husband’s best friend and favorite playmate, but you know, as time goes on and the laundry or stack of assignments at work pile up, we go into “git-er’-done” mode, paranoid that if we slack on the stack, it will only get higher and higher. Give it up. The idea that you will ever catch up on that to-do list is a fantasy. If anything, just put and keep your husband at the TOP of your “to-do” list.

2. Be wary of the Super-Mommy syndrome. If she’s not careful, she forgets and wears that cape everywhere she goes. Some Super Mommy’s even forget to take off their capes at bedtime. And you know what happens to old Super Mommies don’t you? The ones who forget how to take off the cape and be Super Friend or Super Lover to their husband?  The little people they took care of so devotedly, so exclusively for so long, once they fly away on their own power, leave Super Mommies super lonely. They’ve lost their best friends – including sadly in many cases, their own husband.

3. Carve out a private space and a private time every single day. Deep, authentic intimacy can only be discovered, nurtured, and matured inside exclusivity: that’s the one-on-one, pure relationship that, for even a few moments, is free from the pull of other relationships. The confederacy of marriage is like a walled garden which has to be watered regularly; or the castle on the hill, which has to be guarded constantly and reinforced frequently. Closed doors, turned off phones, and set aside time everyday, even from the children, will be the saviors of your marriage. And if you are apart because of travels, prioritize meaningful conversation over the phone. A weekly date night is a must in my book, and has been for 38 years.

4. Go “somewhere else” at least once or twice a year. The town, the city, the park, the beach, the canyon, the desert, the mountainside, the world. The change of costume and character rejuvenates. Realizing that you are not irreplaceable (at home) liberates. Exclusivity as best friends and lovers revitalizes. And memories pile up like wood for winter fires. For a night or two or three, anything is possible. You don’t have to have loads of money or time or independence to finagle a get-away. Get creative. Get support if you need it. It’s so worth the effort because there is a particular kind of moment that can only happen somewhere else.

What challenges do you face in making space for your spouse? or How have you found a way to make space for your spouse?