I have a love/hate relationship with "date nights." It's similar to how I feel about my birthday and New Year's Eve.
Let me explain.
Side note: I think they're important. No doubt about it. The reasons are obvious; especially if you have kids or extremely demanding jobs that result in scattered time together. That's not what this post is about.
It's about the pressure. The same pressure that rolls around every late December or early October (in my case).
"So......what amazing thing do you have planned for New Years?"
"Oh......you don't have anything big planned? Just hanging out with some friends at home?"
"We're celebrating New Year's with Ryan Seacrest on top of the Empire State Building while taking in a private Beyonce show to be followed by a toast at midnight with Justin Timberlake."
"You know.....just something simple that we decided to do this year."
"Soooo, it's your birthday!"
"Are you going to have a big party?"
"You're not? You don't love big huge surprise parties that cost $700?"
And the same kind of thing happens when it comes to "date nights."
I remember one day about five years ago I was lamenting an incredibly crazy week at work to someone. I'd worked till eight or nine each night, two of those nights had been parent teacher conferences, one was grad class that actually lasted until ten, I had a horrible cold, we'd run all over town for adoption fingerprinting, doctor's appointments, and pet vaccination paperwork, and I was beat. This well intended individual asked what we were going to do for the weekend to re-coop.
"Honestly," I said, "I want to lay on the couch and watch mindless television and hit up our favorite Mexican restaurant in a sweatshirt and baseball hat on Saturday night."
"You guys should get away. Drive up to Traverse City (a three hour drive)
, get a great room, go wine tasting (I loathe wine)
, and just live it up,"was the response.
Hearing her describe a weekend like that after a week like I'd had made me want to gouge my eyes out and I'd venture to say it would have been detrimental to our marriage instead of helpful.
And I've had similar responses from people when I mention we're going to go to dinner and a movie again,
that we're not going out of town for our anniversary, or that we haven't specifically gone out just the TWO of us in a month and stared longingly into each other's eyes over fondue (as if I could talk Chris into a fondue restaurant?)
And I've started to wonder where all this pressure comes from. It's like "dates" have to all of a sudden be Pinterest worthy too. And frankly, it's exhausting.
It's crucial and non-negotiable for couples to spend quality one-on-one time together. But why do we all of a sudden have so many parameters and made up definitions of what that time must consist of in order for it to count as a "date." Even the word itself. It's as over-used as man-cave.
I start feeling like the two of us playing backgammon (Yep. We do that. Because we're that cool......)
on the living room floor or watching a movie or just talking in the kitchen while we clean up the day isn't enough and I get this false restless feeling because I've been told we should be doing more. Even though I'm perfectly happy doing all of the things I previously mentioned.....because it just feels like us.........I start listening to all those Pinteresters of dating and that horrible monster, comparison, starts to creep in. And where I was once happy and content and peaceful, now I'm frustrated that we're not going to some five star restaurant and a horseback ride along the coast. Or a hot air balloon ride. Or a box seat at the symphony. Or a ballroom dance. Or......just something different than what we're comfortable doing.
So we all just need to stop. Stop putting the pressure on. Let people be comfortable doing what they do.
Like dinner and a movie. We saw "Jobs" this night. We talked about it for 45 minutes afterwards. Dinner and a movie. I will always stand by that as the best date option ever.
And there was this night..... (about two months later and Chris is wearing the same shirt.....I guess the mall should be on the agenda for our next night out)......dinner downtown......and some art at an art competition
in our city.
And sometimes.......a lot of times.....we choose to do this........
Because it's honestly where we're happiest. And I'm pretty sure that's okay.
There's a lot of reasons to go on big extravagant, knock-your-socks off nights out. There's even more reasons to make sure you're spending time together in a way that works for you. Even if it's simple and under-stated.
And especially if it's authentic.