“Making Rounds” :: Staying Connected to Your Spouse

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Most nights of the week, after the sun sets and the kitchen is cleaned, my husband says, “Well Sarah, it’s time to make my rounds.” Already in bed with my nose in a book or scrolling my phone, I glance up and say absentmindedly, “Okay, love.”

15 to 20 minutes later he returns to our bedroom, slipping in beside me under our heavy duvet.

“How’s everybody?” I ask.

“All tucked in,” he responds.

It’s a rhythm we’ve created in the last few years as our children have grown more independent. Apart from our daughter with special needs, our children no longer require being “put down” for the night. Often, they fill their last hours before bed finishing homework, talking with friends on the phone, playing with toys, or listening to music. At bedtime Tony makes his “rounds” to check on each of them, tucking them in for the night. He reads a short book to the six-year-old and brushes her teeth. He then asks the older two about the next school day. “What tests are coming up this week? Are you staying focused?”

Last night instead of crawling in bed early, I joined Tony on the front porch. We are facing some important family decisions and needed to unpack pros and cons. It was a weeknight, so we wrapped up by bedtime. Walking inside together Tony invited me “to make the rounds” with him. “Sure!” I said, adding “I think it’s so great you do this with the kiddos.”

“Of course!” he answers heading up the stairs. “Gotta check on all my patients!”

I stopped mid-step on the stairs and laughed. “Oh my goodness! I just now get it. You’re ‘making rounds’ just like you do with your patients at the hospital.” With a self-effacing facepalm, I whisper “Duh!”

“Making Rounds”

My husband is a surgeon at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. “Making rounds” is what he does in the hospital at the beginning and/or end of each workday, going from
hospital room to hospital room to check on his patients. He and his team check how patients are healing from surgery, making sure their pain is managed properly and that no complications have arisen overnight. Based on patient needs he might order further testing or make a recommendation for rehabilitation therapies. He might modify their diet. Often he just listens, lending an ear to patients in recovery and their families, hearing what ails them or their fears about returning home.

Checking on his children before bed, Tony makes “family rounds.” This particular night, I play the part of a medical student, shadowing him and smiling, imagining him at the hospital with his patients. His patient care is not something I will ever witness first-hand but it’s nice to imagine him in his field of work.

How We Stay Connected

It’s a rare thing for spouses to work together professionally, often leading to an incomplete understanding of our spouse’s influence, responsibilities, stresses, and joys.  One way we have learned to bridge this gap is for me to accompany my husband at national surgical conferences. Sometimes I will sit in on one of his lectures or attend social events, listening in on conversations with his peers. I love to witness the mutual respect and camaraderie expressed among surgeons of all ages, and I always come away with a deeper regard for Tony’s influence outside the home. 

COVID offered a unique opportunity for Tony to observe my world as a stay-at-home mother and writer. Even though the children have returned to school, Tony is able to attend some Zoom meetings from home. As a result, he observes a few rhythms to my day. He hears the alarm ring on my phone indicating my 30-minute morning pick-up time is done, feels the boom of the front door slamming as I walk outside to water the plants, and listens as music pours out from my writer’s nook as I start my day’s edits. Tony will find other ways to stay engaged in my day-to-day life apart from him. “Hey, I’m stalking you on Life360: thanks for all the driving around you do with the kid’s activities.”

We also stay connected by sharing a calendar on our phones. Tony will often text me to say, “I see you have writer’s group this morning, how did it go?” I treasure these digital signals sent across our daily divide that communicate, “I see you. Your work is important! I am grateful for you.” He edits my writing when time allows. He listens as I unpack a life group lesson I will be teaching.

20 Years Together

Tony and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage on December 15th of this year. Anyone who witnesses our marriage up close knows it is far from perfect. There have been seasons we’ve gritted our teeth, committed, forgiven, and fought for one another and our family unit. Yet, through the years what has come effortlessly is our admiration for one another.

As we grow old together, may we continue to be curious. May we continue to cherish and honor one another in our separate life callings. May we support and cheer one another on as we accomplish our goals both in the home and outside of it. Most of all, may we be unified in all our callings.

It can be a challenge to feel connected to your spouse as the years pass, as our children grow older, or as our careers take off. We must stay curious and interested in one another. For our marriage, I cannot say what “making the rounds,” will look like in the next twenty years, but I will continue to pray that we will be able to do them together.

Heading on our honeymoon. December 15, 2001

 

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Sarah is a native Texan. Growing up, if she wasn’t in a tree channeling her inner Anne Shirley, she was riding her bike on adventures through Texas pasture land. Sarah fell in love with her best friend Tony after they shared an on-stage kiss in their high school play, Arsenic and Old Lace. Together Sarah and Tony attended Baylor University where Sarah received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Sarah practiced as a speech therapist for several years before moving to Birmingham for Tony’s residency in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. After a brief stint in Jacksonville, Florida, Tony and Sarah moved back to Birmingham where they now live with their four children, Sophia (age 11), Vincent (age 10), Luisa (age 6), and Grace (age 3). Sarah juggles managing her home and caring for her four children, while also pursuing her passion for writing. She is currently editing the manuscript for her first book, a memoir of her motherhood journey through Luisa’s diagnosis with Rett Syndrome, a rare neurological disease that has left her daughter with multiple disabilities. Sarah believes that life’s contradictions are merely an invitation. Her writing focuses on the intersection of faith with brokenness, and the extraordinary beauty that can be found in the ordinary days of motherhood. You can follow her on Instagram @morlandt1201 or read her writing at morlandt.blogspot.com.

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