Originally posted Aug. 1, 2009
Your friends do it, your neighbors are doing it and even the
Obamas do it.
What's all the rage? The latest craze? So novel that
editors the world over pay big bucks to get a shot of America's
first-couple in action?
Date night. Date night? Yes indeed. What a
Last month I wrote about how to talk to kids about
divorce. Wouldn't it be nice, though, if you could avoid
having this talk with your kids in the first place? Try
talking with your spouse, instead. Not the passive chat about
the 'honey-do' list or about who picks up the kids and the
dry-cleaning, have a real conversation on an actual date.
You're busy, interesting people. You grow, you change, and if
you don't keep in touch with each other you'll quickly grow
People often doubt the simple cure. How many times have
you popped a pill to cure a headache you've had a mere five minutes
instead of just drinking a glass of water, taking a few deep
breaths and closing your eyes for another five? Perhaps
you're just dehydrated and overwhelmed.
Marriages also need to be watered on a regular basis, but unless
they earn bunions standing in line for some new relationship guru's
best-seller or sank hundreds on the latest boutique couple's
therapy, many couples won't give simple strategies a second
thought. Date-night is an old concept, but it can still work
wonders. Rather than wait until the engine light comes on in
your marriage, remember that marriages are like cars: they also
need regular tune-ups - especially when children are in the mix -
so pick a day every week or every other to have a date with your
Perhaps payday is a good day for your dates, but they don't have
to cost a thing. You don't have to jet off to Manhattan's
theater district like the Obamas did on their last outing. I
did a quick Google search of 'free things to do in Chicago' and
found several cool ideas that you and your hubby could try, and
don't forget how easily you can swap babysitting duties with a
friend: your kids will be doubly happy and you'll both save a
bundle on childcare. If going out doesn't always appeal, pull
the curtains, light the candles and have a picnic in your living
It doesn't really matter what you do, as long as you do it
You'd be surprised by how invigorating it can be to simply
'change the scenery' around your relationship. Do you and
your mate tend to always do the same stuff whenever you do actually
get around to going out? Work-related events don't
necessarily count, by the way. Are these the only times you
get dolled-up? These can be stimulating, but take a second
look: if one of you is busy talking shop while the other is
stuck engaging in inane chatter with other spouses, reconsider.
Think you're too busy to try killing two birds with two stones
instead of one? Think again. If the country's first
couple can find couple-time, separate from any official engagements
(aside from their date, the couple's day trip to NYC included
absolutely no official functions), what's stopping you?
With time and money non-issues after all, what if you still find
the idea of purposefully planning time to be with your mate
unappealing? Are you feeling bitter about some unresolved
issue? Have your positive feelings for your spouse simply
dried up from the cumulative effect of years of dirty diapers,
mounting debt and the basic facts of a life filled with multiple
demands? Something's got to give. What's it gonna
be? Your marriage?
Making it work is an act of will. The spark may be out for
now but like any good cook knows, the best result occurs when the
flame is low and slow. Stir the pot and take your
relationship out for a test-drive on a date or two and see if
anything comes back to you about why you married this person in the
first place. You're intelligent and have good taste,
right? You must have had pretty good reasons for getting
My husband and I have been married fifteen years this
month. Even though we experienced some very rough waters and
came quite close to calling it quits several years ago I am often
pleasantly surprised by how much fun we manage to have whenever we
make couple-time a priority. On a date we aren't forced to
arbitrate how many mozzarella sticks each kid gets and actually get
to relax and enjoy adult conversation. It's when we finally
end up having a good laugh that the thought occurs to me about just
how nice it is to still be married to this person.
What startles me is how simple it can be to reclaim this
feeling, and how easily we can let couple-time slide. Without
it a marriage will die from neglect, so get out on that date with
your mate. It might actually feel good and besides, your kids
will thank you for not having to have that other talk with
Jennifer DuBose, M.S., C.A.S., is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Batavia.
See more of Jennifer's stories here.
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