Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Navigating our ‘Puzzling’ Relationships

IMG_2523Over the holiday break, my husband and I were discussing how busy and chaotic our schedules were in 2018. While we both work from home at times and are ‘physically’ in each other’s presences more than most couples, we realized that we didn’t necessarily have enough ‘quality’ time together.

We have different interests, we like different television shows and we are on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to tastes in movies and outdoor activities. We racked our brains for something we could share together – beyond our faith. And, we decided on a puzzle.

I have to admit that we were a bit over confident standing in the store aisle looking at our choices. The puzzles ranged from 200 to 2,000 pieces and after a deliberation of about 20 minutes, we decided that we could definitely conquer a 2,000-piece puzzle in a short amount of time.

We were wrong.

After setting up one table that was much too small, our ‘puzzle area’ grew into a two-table and two-chair space with additional lamps. We began the task of separating pieces and gathering the end pieces to form the outline of the puzzle. And then, we realized that puzzles are really not that much fun.

What we thought would be a great way to spend time together has turned into a fury of frustration. We find ourselves sighing loudly, navigating around each other to match up pieces that clearly don’t fit into the spaces we want them to. We have yet to feel satisfied with the activity, but we are both too stubborn to stop. We are on a mission.

While I’ve focused primarily on the negative aspects of putting together a puzzle for the past month, I realized today that our ‘puzzle adventure’ is not necessarily a failure.

By working on something together, making time for each other and finding ways to collaborate and cooperate, we’ve modeled something very important for our four children. The questions ‘Where is mom?’ or ‘Where is dad?’ typically ends with another one of our children responding with ‘Puzzling.’

Our kids may roll their eyes at us and refuse to get involved in our puzzle adventure, but they see us trying to accomplish something together. They see that we care enough about each other to make quality time a priority.

Our decision to get a puzzle may not have been a direct way to model relationship goals for our children, but indirectly, we’ve shown them that our relationship matters.

And, we’ve shown them that we are committed to each other and that frustrating puzzle for the long haul.

– Shannon Philpott-Sanders
Originally published in The Messenger, the newspaper for the Belleville Diocese

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February 2, 2019 - Posted by | Sample Work

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