On not “firepitting” our marriage (or our children)

We’ve got a new metaphor in our house to describe a bad habit that we often fall into. We’re calling it “firepitting.”

It’s one of those things that a lot of people do . . . that tendency to live your best life when others are around. A prime example of this is our backyard firepit. We pull it out almost every time we have guests over. We love sitting around it, listening to music, talking, or roasting marshmallows.

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But here’s the thing: we NEVER pull that firepit out just for our kids. We never set up the firepit after the kids have gone to bed and enjoy some wine just as a couple. It’s a thing we do when other people are over.

Similarly, we had some friends visit a few weeks ago and we decided to rent a duffy in Newport Beach. This is one of those things we’ve never done as a family, even though it’s close and not that expensive and a really fun way to spend the day. It’s the firepit phenomenon.

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Firepitting is when we get a babysitter for events with friends but fail to secure one for a date night. Firepitting is when we go to Balboa Pier every time the cousins are in town but never when it’s just us. Firepitting is when we see a new restaurant and talk about who we could go with instead of just making plans to go there ourselves. Firepitting is lighting candles and putting on mood music when we have dinner guests but never doing this when it’s just our family. Firepitting is finding fun adventures to do when someone comes to visit instead of just finding them for ourselves. Firepitting is the fact that we’ve made home-made icecream numerous times when we’ve had guests over but never when it’s just been our kids.

It’s cleaning house when company comes over instead of just keeping it that way so that we can enjoy it.

I think it’s a normal human tendency. We put more effort in with our friends than we do with our family. We want to be hospitable, but we also want to impress. And while it’s wonderful to feel like we can be comfortable with our own spouses and children, I find that sometimes this means that we put less effort in, too.

It’s just one of those things I’ve been aware of lately. Mark and I had a great talk about it the other night, and we both agreed: we want to stop the firepitting phenomenon. We’re trying to be more intentional with our date nights and also with special moments with our kids. What that looks like: I ordered a new firepit . . . and we’re going to use it as a family.

We went on a date night and watched the sun set, with wine and music and a blanket, and then tried a restaurant we’ve wanted to visit.

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We made cookies and had a dance party in the living room last night . . . for no special reason.
And while I’m letting myself off the hook that every moment has to be precious and special, and I’m not going to feel shame about the fact that I love hosting and entertaining, I am also trying to focus on our own couple and family experiences. Because I never want my kids to look back on their childhood and think that people outside of our family got the good stuff.

Is firepitting a struggle for you? How do you combat it?



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