I am a creature of habits – of cereal and coffee for breakfast, packed sandwiches for lunch, and pizza every Tuesday. I like the familiarity of a favorite coffee cup each morning and a Wednesday morning run with a lucky pair of sneakers.
Not too long ago, though, I started to worry the routine I embraced so readily in my day-to-day life was a bad thing for my relationship. I worried that, sure, meetings should be scheduled, but shouldn’t love be spontaneous? And if a relationship runs like clockwork, does that mean you’ve lost your groove?
You see, when my boyfriend Kevin and I started dating one of my favorite parts was the disruption it gave to normalcy. If Parks and Rec didn’t air…ooooh! I’d be so livid at the interruption to my week, but if Kevin brought over pizza? I’d clear my plans. There were new activities to do, new friends to meet and families to charm, new CDs to try and new favorite foods to sample. We sled on baking pans through the snow spontaneously. We took a late night trip to a 24-hour diner where he introduced me to what a “slider” was in all its chili-eggs-sausage-and-toast glory.
Then, time passed, and some of those surprises passed with it. I had to think harder to come up with questions about him I didn’t know the answer to. I could anticipate his movie choice on Netflix, the hat he’d wear to the game, and that, yet again, he would get a slider at that diner. I always liked routines for me, but I worried that sinking into a routine with Kevin meant taking each other for granted, losing the momentum that comes with making memories and sinking into a complacency that came with settling down.
This stressed me out and it worried me, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I was wrong.
In looking for the big moments and big surprises that came when we started dating, I’d stopped noticing the little things that only come when you know each other well. There were early morning texts of “good luck” before a big day and pep talks tailored to exactly what I needed. There was the wordless way we bought our favorite pint of ice cream and ate it with two spoons, and there were sing-alongs in the car to songs we’d loved two years ago and still remembered verbatim.
Sure, those sing-alongs are routine, and the ice cream is perhaps a little bit too routine, too, but they’re routines of the best sort – the kind where you can’t imagine your life without them, and wouldn’t want too, either.
And besides, while these routines may be more standard than the surprises of three years ago – there’s still plenty of room for new experiences, new travels, new restaurants to sample or (if nothing else) new TV shows to try out on Netflix. These new adventures though, are paired with a sense of belonging that early-in-relationship Kate, I think, would’ve been so thankful to have.
I may be a little bit too attached to my planner and a little too distraught when my pizza place is out of my favorite slice – but I am not distraught to discover the joy and beauty of finding a routine with another person – a partner who shares my habits, but isn’t a bad one to have.