Date nights- we used to have to plan these when our children were younger. Sometimes we planned them weeks in advance when things got really hectic. Then we would both anticipate what we would say and do when the evening came. Sometimes by then we might be too tired to stay out late, even if we had a babysitter, but at least we would try to make the most of those precious hours together—filling each other in our most pressing concerns, triumphs, and future plans or desires. We learned early on that if we didn’t get these times to re-connect, our everyday irritations would soon boil over into major conflicts with much gnashing of teeth and snarling at each other.
Now that we are empty-nesters we don’t schedule date nights anymore. But that is not to say that we do not need them anymore. On the contrary, we still can bottle up resentments if we don’t re-connect on a regular basis. It is just the nature of our date nights that has changed. It used to be that we would go out to dinner, see a show and then maybe have a drink before driving home, dismissing the babysitter, and then sneaking up to our bedroom for some romance. Now most of that is gone. We often have re-connection time driving down here to the coast, like last evening. For three hours Bryce drove while I sat and kept him company, discussing everything from therapy ideas, boat projects, money issues, healthcare reform, and yes-even the meaning of life!
Now I don’t want you to think that we don’t go out to dinner together anymore. It’s just that we don’t have to orchestrate it weeks in advance. We can be much more spontaneous. And that is always good. But if we don’t have our date nights, be they spontaneous like last evening, or planned, like in the early years, the consequence is still the same. Yes, date nights are very, very important for us as a couple. Helen (1/22/2009)