I asked my husband out on a date for next weekend. He paused for a second before he said yes. That was weird. Why did my own husband pause when I asked him out? He was trying to figure out what I meant by, “Would you like to go on a date next weekend?” Your guess is as good as mine as to what he thought I meant. Clearly, we don’t do this often enough.
For my husband and I eating dinner alone in a nice restaurant doesn’t happen a lot. Experts say Date Night should happen once a week. Those experts’ kids must be in college. Or maybe they never had kids. Whatever. I figure if my husband and I can reconnect in a romantic atmosphere once a month or so, we’re doing pretty well. We’re not heavy romance kinda folks, anyway. Grabbing an ice cream treat at the Dari Hut and bringing it home to surprise my husband in the evening is fun with just a nice enough touch of romance. For me personally it’s about the time we spend together– not what we’re doing– that matters.
For our upcoming date night I have everything planned. I have my outfit all picked out. I lined up Grandmom & Poppy to baby sit our two little girls, ages two and four. I made reservations at a restaurant that has tablecloths and a piano bar. We’re both looking forward to it, but I have to say, I am feeling a little nervous. Because we don’t spend a lot of time alone together these days, I thought it might be a good idea to establish some “ground rules” for our date. These rules could help you, too, if you spend more time in Family / Mom & Dad Mode than you do in Romance / Husband & Wife Mode. Here are the rules I came up with:
1. Set a pre-established time to talk about “business”: the kids, the house, finances, work, etc. When the time elapses, stop.
OK, so what topics does that leave? Do you remember what it was like to date your spouse? Before you had kids? Before you lived in the same house and shared every intimate detail of each other’s laundry and other personal habits? No? Join the club. For conversation starters, you might have to do some homework. Read a book so that you can share the plot over salad. Find an interesting story to share. Ask your spouse about his favorite restaurant as a kid. Or what was her best Christmas/Hanukkah/birthday gift ever? Or what was his favorite part of your honeymoon– you could even bring a few photos with you to jog your memory. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you know everything. There’s a still ton to discover.
2. When one of you veers off-course (which you likely will), the other should gently guide the conversation back to more partner discovery. If he says, “That little league game was great! I was so proud of the way Johnny caught that fly ball.” She can say, “I’m proud of him, too. I’m also proud of what a great Dad you are. The first time I was proud to be with you was when….” See? A gentle transition away from the kids and back to memories of you.
3. Flirt with each other. Use your non-verbal messages in that “come-hither-after-dinner” way. Why not? You ARE married, after all!
4. Order dessert. Forget about your diet. Indulge a little. It’s not like you do this all the time. Don’t order the fruit cup with a tiny little plop of Grand Marnier cream, unless you live in Alaska, it’s the dead of winter and you miss fresh fruit– or that’s what you REALLY want.
6. Hold hands. Share a few bites of each other’s dinner. Look at each other. See #3 above.
I hope you have a chance to use these rules with your spouse soon. If you don’t already have your next date night planned, here’s your opportunity to plan one. Do it right now while you’re thinking of it-even if you have to plan it for a couple of weeks down the road. Then you’ll have something fun to look forward to and a few rules to help you enjoy the evening when it does arrive.
© 2007, Felicia Slattery.