Silence in the McDonalds
Every now and then I take my kids to McDonalds for a special treat. My kids love to play on the playscape, and I like to people watch. There are all kinds of people at McDonalds: families playing with small kids, old people enjoying an afternoon out, a businessman working through lunch. Sometimes I see couples enjoying a meal together. If I watch them for a bit I can tell how long a couple has been together, and every once in a while I come across a couple who is shy and awkward around each other. Those are the kinds of couples that make me smile. I’m not laughing at their embarrassment, but rather I commiserate with their situation.
It was the summer of 2005, and my husband and I were that couple. Well, we weren’t officially a couple yet. He was home from BYU for the break. We met at a church activity for the young single adults in the area. Even though he is quite introverted, he worked up the nerve to talk to me after overhearing that I had served my mission in the same area he had served. After that first day, we saw each other a couple of time at church, then we started making up reasons to see each other more. He invited me to attend the family home evening group that met at his house. Then, in a desperate attempt to see him more, I asked him to help my mom and I move her real estate business from one office to another across town.
To my amazement, he accepted my offer to perform manual labor for my mother. In return, I promised to make him lunch back at my apartment. He arrived promptly that morning and we made short order of lifting heaving furniture and boxes of files. Then we moved our, so called, date to my studio apartment where I offered to dazzle him with my amazing water boiling and jar opening skills by making spaghetti. Whether it was his sense of propriety, his desire to uphold the BYU honor code, or the fact, unbeknownst to me, that he doesn’t really like marinara sauce, I may never know, but he offered a counter proposal to take me to lunch at the closest fast food restaurant, McDonalds. So I acquiesced to his request, and we headed back to his car.
He was, as always is, the perfect gentleman. Every door was opened for me. He ordered our meals, paid for us, and we found a table for our meal. He even offered a prayer over our lunch. His chivalry was very attractive. Then an odd thing happened. We started our meal in silence, and the quiet kept lingering. So we sat in our shared solitude for a brief 15 minute meal, but in our uncomfortable taciturn, it felt like hours. The whole time my poor brain was thinking that this relationship was doomed because I was not a fan of silence, yet I lacked the talent for small talk. We had known each other maybe three weeks and we had covered every possible discussion topic. I really liked this guy, but how were we going to move forward in a relationship when we had nothing to say. I was sure this was the last time I would ever see this guy again. I hid it well, but after he dropped me off I was pretty distraught that the most promising relationship I had in years was already over. I was mopey for the next week.
I was sure we would never talk again, but we saw each other the following Sunday and everything was okay! The truth that Hollywood, the media or even our friends in committed relationships forget to tell us is that dating is not always a perfect thing. Rarely do two sets of eyes meet across a crowded room and that instant connection is perfect for the rest of that couples’ lives. People attracted to each other have awkward moments, dull moments, and even embarrassing moments. It is easy to believe that we have to show our perfect self at all time or no one will like us, and that is a lie. Two people destined for eternity will pass over the awkward speedbumps of life and continue on the road together. Relationships are meant to be traveled together, through the ups and downs, while we learn to accept the other person for their strengths and weaknesses.
Things in our relationship progressed pretty quickly after that quiet lunch date at McDonalds. He introduced me to Star Wars. I invited him to meet my friends. He held my hand in the Celestial room of the San Antonio Temple, and two days later on Independence Day we became an official couple. Six weeks later he asked me to marry him, and four months after that we were sealed for time and all eternity. It has been nine years since that summer. In those years we’ve lived in two apartments, bought two houses, held one amazing job, have 3 precocious children with one more on the way.
Recently, my husband and I went to McDonalds with our kids. Sitting in the room with other families, we smiled at each other over the roar of screaming, happy voices. Sometimes my husband and I have many topics to discuss. Together there are choices that we face in raising our family, and we take our responsibilities seriously. Sometimes we talk of the things that happened during the day. He shares something interesting from work, and I tell funny stories about what the two year old did. We talk about the kids’ school work or their progress with their activities. On rare occasions, we don’t talk at all, enjoying the quiet comfort of the other’s company. The quiet doesn’t bother me as much anymore, because I know we’ve built a relationship full of trust, companionship, and sometimes, not a lot to talk about.