Have a Weekly Date Night

For a number of years, depending on whether we could get a babysitter earlier in our marriage, myself and my wife have a Date Night.  For a few hours, usually on Thursday night, we go out to dinner and just spend some time with each other, and although 90% of the time the conversation focuses on our children, we make the effort to spend alone time together. 

There was a time when we first began dating that we could spend every minute with each other and it still wasn’t enough.  I remember getting butterflies when I saw her and just how excited I was to hear her voice on the phone, get an email from her, meet her for lunch and see her after a day of work.  We treasured the opportunity to spend time together just talking.  We could talk for hours.  As we settled into our relationship, and got comfortable, the dynamics of those first few years changed.  It wasn’t that we had grown tired of each other, our lives, on many levels, became more independent than interdependent. 

I speak about our relationship in these terms because if you look at any relationship as something that “evolves” over time there are 3 stages: Dependency, Independency and Interdependency.

Depending on your relationship and the time that has been invested will determine where you are.  From our perspective, Julie’s and mine, we have decided that having an interdependent relationship offers the greatest opportunity for growth and longevity.  In 20 years of marriage we have been through the dependent stage and the independent stage and right now we are, most of the time, in the interdependent.

The independent stage creates a paradigm where maybe both people as individuals are able to evolve, but the marriage evolution stalls. The dependent stage holds one person responsible for the physical, emotional and spiritual guidance of the marriage.  As you can imagine, this stage creates a paradigm of imbalance if left to subsist over long periods of time.  While interdependency acknowledges the independent and dependent nature of relationships it is focused on creating an environment of sharing, understanding, and collective mentoring.

Our marriage started in the dependent stage and then after our first born moved into the independent stage when Julie threw all of her energies into mothering.  I went to work and she took care of Jake. It was at this place in space and time that changes began to occur. Now there were two little people that required our deepest attention and keeping up the triad of relationships:  The relationship we have with each other, our Relationship with them, and then the relationship we have with ourselves.  I can only imagine after focusing your energies for so many years on your children’s; school, sports, dance recitals, birthday parties, sicknesses, peer pressure, boyfriends and girlfriends and a thousand other issues that one day, when they have gone off to college or moved out, you can wake up, look at your spouse and ask “Who are You?”.  That is not to say that our children are not “Life” endeavors. We care for them, worry about them, and are vested in them forever, but at the moment, when they are gone, the focus does shift.

We began date night as a way for us to reconnect.  We had become so thoroughly independent; her with Jake and Blair, and me, too tired after I got home from work to engage in anything more meaningful than watching TV.  Date night is a time when we remove ourselves from the kids and just talk.  Some nights we get along great and some nights we fight.  Regardless of the outcome of Date Night it gives us time to focus on our marriage.  

Don’t misunderstand Date Night has not made our marriage perfect, far from it. What it has done is create the understanding that both of us are committed to making our marriage work.

I have found that when one person is on a path of growth and development and the other person does not choose that path it opens the door for problems.  The disparity that arises when both people are on separate paths is sometimes too much to overcome.  That is why having a chance to connect, on a weekly basis, can help to open the lines of communication, that have a tendency to close down when 2 people are on different paths caught up in their own worlds.       

Sustaining a thriving and evolving marriage takes patience, understanding, selflessness, honesty, a commitment to making it work along with a hundred other things.

It also requires an investment of time.  We live in an age when the pace of life is highly accelerated and the forms of communication that we choose; like email, texting, Twittering and Facebook updates, are woven into the fabric of “How” we interact.   Although these modalities of communication serve a purpose they all have the tendency to be misused and overused.  I say that because I speak from experience.  Connecting, one to one, without the use of email, texting or any other digital modality is a dying art, but a necessary art if we are to evolve and grow ourselves and our marriages.     

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