I'm in sixth grade, and it's field day. This is the one day, a celebration of sorts, when students have free reign of the football field as a reward for their good behavior throughout the course of the year. Some students use the time to perfect their kickball skills. I use the time to sneak to the edge of the field with my sixth grade crush with only one objective.
Today I would hold his hand.
Holding hands was a scandalous thing, back in those elementary school days. Probably because it meant something. To hold someone's hand was the equivalent of declaring "I like you." And for a sixth grader, that was a bold message to send to someone.
So, we held hands and walked around the perimeter of the field, with our Sour Straws safely secured in our leftover hands.
Fast forward almost twenty years, and I'm desperate for relief. Long car rides with teething toddlers aren't for the faint of heart. I'm sitting in the passenger seat with a coffee and a pulsing headache. I just want to get to where we are going. Actually, I just want to beat my head against the icy glass windshield.
My husband tells me to relax, which is nothing new considering our recent history of tantrum-filled car rides. I roll my eyes, and then I feel the hand he had extended in my direction. It takes me aback.
I clasp on for dear life, and we continue down the road.
I love my husband, and I know he loves me. But we all know that sometimes love isn't enough to get through the tough times. Those times when you think the world might come collapsing in today. Those times when you don't know if you can deal with one more complaint from ANYONE.
But extending a hand says more than I love you. Although it may sound silly, sometimes a gesture to say "I like you" can do more than the words "I love you" are capable of. Holding hands says "I like you" and "we are in this together." There is an unmistakeable sense of partnership between two people holding hands.
At our core, human beings long to be loved, but we also long to be liked. Liking someone is much less obligatory and can feel much more meaningful. Example: My mother is obligated to love me because, of course, she is my mother. But to be liked says more than "of course I love you." It says, I enjoy spending time with you. It says, you are more than my spouse, you are my best friend. Every human being needs to feel liked, and often.
Loving someone is passive, but liking someone is active.
Liking your significant other isn't always easy, so holding hands doesn't come naturally some days. In fact, if you are married, you understand how hard it is to continually like your spouse day in, day out (don't lie). Liking means laughing at the jokes you've heard 14 times, and complimenting efforts in a project that may have gone awry. Liking means pretending to be interested in your spouse's hobbies just to humor them, even if you are lost within the first 30 seconds of them talking about it.
Sad to say, but many spouses who claim to love each other, stop liking each other somewhere down the line. We've all seen it happen, and know how it usually turns out. But we can't kid ourselves- it's not just "those people". We are all guilty of forgetting to like our significant other from time to time.
Liking takes constant effort, and sometimes that effort slacks. But if spouses don't strive to like each other every single day, the love will never be enough.
Thinking back to sixth grade and the not-so-poinient, yet super relevant words of Hootie & the Blowfish: Holding hands means "I'm gonna love you the best that I can."
I pray that I can find new ways to like my husband everyday, not just sitting back and taking for granted that he knows I love him. I want him to know that I like him too, not because I have to, but because I want to. I pray he can find ways to like me as well- for all of our days.
But if neither of us can think of anymore ways to like the other one, I hope we can remember to reach out a hand, and pace through life together, like it's a field day we never want to end.