Our best dates are midday dates.

As parents of young kids it is difficult for my wife and I to carve out an abundance of quality time together (I know, take a number). When the kids were pre-school ages we had a series of dates that ended up as paid sessions to fight—we went out, paid a sitter, and the unsaid or unresolved hurts of the past few days would inevitably blow up before we got to the movie, to dinner, or to friend’s houses.

The past year we shifted our time together to lunch dates. The kids are in school, hopefully learning, and we have more unfettered time. We had such a date today and while free from the potential of kid interruptions, it did have potential for a good old fight.

We needed to talk through several things that had built up with the onrush of church ministry kickoffs, sports, and back to school.  We were not connecting, so over Chipotle bowls we began to talk, listen, argue, exclaim, apologize, reconcile, and frankly just be married. As fights go it was a good one; honest, open, hearing, and moving to deeper things. We’ve come along way from the paid fight-date.

When I officiate at a wedding I remind the couple that there is no more important vocation (other than their relationship with God) than the vows they are about to make. This person they are covenanting with is sui generis, one of a kind, of singular importance to who they are and are becoming. The couples usually nod along with me as if they understand. But I didn’t fully understand when I got married and neither do they.

It’s easier to say those words than to live them. In the spiritual classic I and Thou Jewish theologian Martin Buber describes what it’s like when we violate our fundamental ontology as beings created in the image of God. We stop treating others as a thou and start treating them as an it. We objectify them. We sin against them.

That’s what I was doing to my wife. I dare say she was doing it to me too. It’s a tragedy it happened and it’s a moment of redemption that she forgave me. We left the lunch seeing each other truly, as Thous, as bride and groom and lover and friend; as the best, and most important thing. It pleased God, and was an undeserved means of grace to me.

Dean Miller is a husband, a father of three, and a priest at The Falls Church Anglican.  A graduate of Regent College in Vancouver, B.C. he loves a good book, ice cream, walks instead of car rides, all sports, and any great story.  He can be reached at [email protected].