Jenna, just married: “M” is for “movie”

Jenna Stephens-Staff Writer

Now that we are Mr. and Mrs. Stephens, the term “movie” is no longer code for “make-out session.” Crazy, I know.

Do you remember the ending of Tangled?

I don’t.

After picking up a few items at Walmart the other day, my husband Conner and I stopped short of the second set of sliding doors and made our way to the Redbox kiosk. Scrolling through page after page of titles resulted in the insertion of a credit card and the ejection of Patriot’s Day, a 2016 film about the Boston Bombing, starring Mark Wahlberg. We made a solid choice. There’s no way anyone would get so distracted by love and attraction that they’d kiss during such a serious movie.

Later that day, Conner sent out a message inviting some friends to watch it with us. Adam Heynen accepted the invitation and arrived promptly at 7:30. We had to start the movie early – when you’re married, bedtime is at 10:00 sharp. Adam sprawled out on the vintage floral couch, and Conner and I snuggled up with a blanket on our other, much more comfortable one. Conner hit “play.” We were in for two hours of bombs, gunfire and the eventual revival of a city rocked by terrorism.

GetFileAttachment-1.jpgThe time spent watching this movie was different than in the past. Conner might have put his hand on my leg, but I don’t think the three points of contact – shoulder, hip, knee – were ever made. Halfway into the movie, Adam looked a little restless and tried to readjust his pillow; like seven times. We knew he had chosen the crappy couch, so as good hosts, we invited him to join us on ours.

So there we were, three friends sitting on the couch, all sharing a blanket and eating sour gummy worms. It looked like the most innocent situation ever.

And this was refreshing.

No shoe in the door. No roommates walking in. No distractions. No touching. Well, a tiny bit of touching, but squishing three adults on one couch makes it kind of inevitable.

First of all, you obviously don’t kiss when you have guests over. But it also seems like we have gained this added level of self-control now that we’re married. Are we still in love? You bet. However, we find so many other ways to relate to each other and enjoy each other’s presence without having to be physical. When we were dating, I thought kissing proved that our relationship was healthy. If we didn’t kiss, I went to bed that night playing scenarios through my head about what might be wrong and what I had done to cause it. Looking back, I know that was a confusing and ridiculous way to gauge the health of a relationship.

Conner and I are seven weeks into marriage, and we have experienced some changes in how we relate to each other.

Now we share meals at our dining room table, brush our teeth in front of the same mirror and wake up next to each other. We pay bills and do laundry. We talk through challenges and struggles. We laugh. We pray. The health of our relationship is revealed through seemingly unimportant, everyday interactions. I am convinced that these new gauges of relationship health are more accurate and significantly more effective in growing our relationship. And that’s exciting.

Do you remember the ending of Patriots Day?

I DO, and believe me, it’s actually worth watching.

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