Since 2001, The Beautiful One and I have had a “Date Night” every Thursday night. Although there have been occasional work-related interruptions, a little rough calculation puts us at about 800 plus date nights so far.
Since the real her spends half her day or more with one, two, or three grandchildren, she is typically ready for adult company come Thursday night, as evidenced by the text message affixed to this post.
Before I was married, I would hear people say things like “don’t stop dating after you are married,” and I was puzzled. What exactly did that mean? Was it about spending money? Dressing up? I didn’t really get it, and I’m guessing more than one guy out there has (or has had) similar thoughts. “Date Night” sounds like a gimmick.
Then I got married, a man with a son and stepson, marrying a woman with three daughters (4 of those kids in their teens at the time) and I realized within the first year how difficult it was going to be for us to really spend any time focusing on each other.
When you get no time to focus on each other, many things go unsaid, and many stories go untold, and much laughter goes unlaughed. Marriages (especially new ones with multiple teenagers) need all the laughter laughed they can get.
In addition, for at least one night a week and to the degree possible, the tasks of cooking and cleaning are nice to forego.
We’ve gone in phases over the years: restaurants (many now closed) that we favored, or long stretches of seeing movies. Thursday night is a great movie night, as it is often not terribly crowded.
It is hard these days to get the early start required for a movie, as we are usually waiting for one or more of our daughters to pick up their children. So, our tendency now is to eat out, maybe take a walk, then come back and watch an hour or so of a TV show together before getting ready for bed. Which we did last night: I came home and played with our grandson (taking over the Star Wars themed duty she mentioned earlier) until his mother and father came to get him. We then headed to a very informal local Italian restaurant (her preference last night was not to go anywhere dressy), walking around the neighborhood the restaurant is located in immediately after. We came home and watched two episodes of the old British series As Time Goes By, then each got ready for bed, where we spent the rest of the night.
Over the course of the evening, our conversation strayed all over the place.
We talked some about her work and some about mine.
We talked about two of the kids, and where they are in their lives.
We talked about a friend of mine who is having a very difficult time right now.
We talked about the grandkids, of course, and how the new baby is doing.
We talked about a guy from the local gym (a few doors down from the Italian place we ate at) who likes to walk around after working out, shirtless. I believe my wife’s exact comment about him was “Dude, grow up.” The manager of the restaurant laughed (we had been discussing it at the checkout register) and said they wanted to keep a spray bottle for him there for “glistening purposes”.
She tried to get me to interpret a dream she’d had that a prominent political figure was her stepfather. I had nothing.
I told her, later in the evening, and in reference to her text message of the afternoon, that I had never actually played “spin the bottle”. She said she got her first kiss that way, and it was apparently disgusting. I remember going to one party as a teen where the game was being played, but I wasn’t having it.
Her: Why not?
Me: I was very misunderstood as a teen.
Her: I don’t understand. How is that relevant?
Me: When you are misunderstood, you don’t dare try anything you might enjoy. That totally ruins the effect.
Her: Ah, I see. I think all teens are misunderstood.
Me: Plus, I was worried I’d be bad at it. If you are going to suck at something, you want to keep your viewing audience to a minimum.
Much of what brings us real joy in this life is decidedly non-dramatic.
Closeness. A meal. A walk. Laughter.
It’s not fancy, or impressive. It’s just… good.
It’s just… love.