When we were going to school at Bear Valley Bible Institute of Denver, the preacher of the congregation there had two special nights every week. Monday was salmon night and he cooked for his bride of 40+ years. Friday was date night and they never missed one. Using their example as well as advice from our favorite marriage book, “His Needs, Her Needs,” we do our best to have a date night every week. Most weeks we succeed because we think it’s important. Besides, it’s fun. But here’s the thing: we live far from any family or anyone else who might be able to keep our kids for a traditional date night. Plus, dinner and a movie out would get very expensive very quickly. So… we do in-house, late night dates… and I’m inspired to blog about it by my friend who has her own fantastic blog (check it out here: http://theplantedtrees.blogspot.com/).
Now, I’m really blessed to be married to a very romantic guy and he does most all the heavy-lifting for date nights. If your spouse isn’t the romantic type, don’t wait for them; just jump in and do it for him/her and for your marriage. Here’s how our date nights work…
1) Jeremy picks a night when I’ll be out of the house. This used to be on Thursdays when I was at Tae Kwon Do, but I’m not doing TKD right now (hoping to get to a new dojo in October, but that’s another topic…). Actually, the way our schedule is right now, we don’t have a night when I’m out of the house. Sometimes Jeremy will send me for dessert or I’ll go sit at Starbucks or cruise Walmart (small town equivalent of the mall with the advantage of being open 24 hours). Other times I help with date night preparations or just sit in the front room working on Come Fill Your Cup stuff. Tonight, I sat in the hall and started this post while policing Ean in bed! haha
2) He plans a theme for the night. This is the thing that really makes it over-the-top special. For a while, he took us on a culinary tour of Africa. He did Madagascar, Ethiopia, Morocco and several others (he got his recipes and info here). Morocco was my favorite. We prepared the meal together and he set up our den like a Moroccan dining room with pillows on the floor and our food on the coffee table. If you’re interested in doing a country-based theme, a good source would be Global Table Adventures. She’s cooking around the world– all 195 countries.
Sometimes the theme part doesn’t work out, and that’s okay. It’s not about a theme; it’s about spending time together and investing in our relationship. On the few occasions I’ve been in charge of date night, it’s been a given that a theme just isn’t going to happen. I did our date night last week and just cooked stuff that I knew we’d love but we’d never cook for the kids and costs a bit more than we would usually spend on a meal.
Sometimes the theme is loose and easy. Tonight we had a P.F. Chang’s meal from the freezer section with brown rice and some matcha green tea. Theme? umm… Asian, I guess. He got out the chopsticks (even though he hates them… he knows I like them) and the matcha set and we ate. :o)
3) He gets the kids in bed. This is kinda the only real crucial step. When I come home from wherever, the kids are fed (sometimes even bathed!) and in bed. The house smells great because he’s cooking. Sometimes (especially if I didn’t actually leave the house) I help get the kids in bed, but date night really can’t start till they’re settled. When we’ve had an infant around (especially a nursing infant), sometimes they sit with us, but we try to not have that happen.
4) Date night begins. We sit, we eat, we talk, we watch a movie or a show… whatever. Sometimes we’ve done something super romantic (candles, bubble bath, massage, etc.). Sometimes we just eat and talk. The point is the togetherness. We do often watch a movie (probably our most common thing), but the caveat is that we must talk about it. It’s pretty widely agreed upon by marriage experts that movies, TV, etc. don’t count as together time because you’re not doing anything really together. But we disagree. That’s when we get our cuddle time in! And it gives us something to talk about… even if it’s how terrible the movie Open Water is. If you don’t know what to talk about, movies are a great place to start. Even the most comfortable, talkative couples sometimes find themselves at a loss for words. Tonight Jeremy got out cards from a game called “The Game of Things.” Some of the questions were weird and we skipped them, but we were talking. There are tons of 1,001 question books and the like. You can find conversation starters online. Or just ask something you’ve always wanted to know. Really, when it comes to marriage, talking and open honesty is the KEY. I’m completely convinced of it.
That’s it! It’s really not complicated, but it is important and it is fun. Maybe you’d like to try it out. If you do, I’d love to hear about it. :o)