Friday, September 10, 2010

Date Night and Quality Time Realizations

I've never been a fan of the terms "date night" and "quality time." I was even a bit smug about it, thinking "I don't need to set aside time for dates. We have fun together all the time. We get out and adventure around LA and the surrounding areas regularly. We hold hands and make fluttery eyes at each other all the time. Date night is for people who find themselves in a rut. Date night is for people who rarely have the privilege of getting to spend so much fun time with such a compatible partner. Date night is for people who have to schedule in reminders for fun and romance. In other words, date night is for other people (the poor saps)."

Can you tell there's a comeuppance coming? 

 It took a while to realize just how little quality romantic time we've been spending together, because we spend so much quality other time together too. Usually, our calendar is booked up months in advance, but we're spending most of those booked weekends together. Unfortunately, those booked weekends together don't mean that we're truly making time for each other over the scheduled activity. And suddenly, during our vacation in Oregon, it hit me just how much I've been missing Jason, even though we see each other all the time.

We've fallen into the patterns that are easy for most couples who are living together: much of our shared time is spent is spent engrossed in our various projects, getting things done around the house, or planning out to-do lists and coordinating schedules. Yes, there are concert nights at the Hollywood Bowl, dinner parties with friends, stories about our week over Thursday night dinner, and hikes in the nearby mountains, but somehow we've been losing sight of the romance.

Despite all the hand-holding and schmoop woven throughout all that weekend and evening time together, we haven't really set aside real chunks of savor-the-relationship time. We haven't had date nights that end the way date nights should. We've had date afternoons that rushed into dinner obligations. We've had dinner obligations that run until midnight and leave us exhausted when we get home. We've shortened our dinner conversations to rush back into side projects, equally worn out by our hectic lives and long workdays. We've allowed ourselves to drink too much wine during at-home Friday night TGIF dinners that lead to collapse in front of our favorite TV shows instead of collapsing elsewhere.

That calendar full of do-it-together activities distracted us from what's really important about setting aside time. We were reminded that an uninterrupted stretch of nothing whatsoever can feel divine as we held hands while exploring the Alberta District in Portland, trying to decide on a restaurant for dinner. We shared something more important than a must-see concert while drinking wine and eating cheese at Kings Estate winery outside Eugene. We reconnected during a wordless afternoon as we sat on a seaside cliff in Yachtas, taking in the view of the beach below, reading books under the late summer sun. We promised ourselves that we need to remember what our vacation felt like, and that we're going to take a little bit of our vacation home.

So we're scheduling in a once-a-month date night/afternoon. It's like a mini-vacation from our everyday. It's a time to remember and reconnect and savor. We're not really picky about whether it's a dinner, a street fair, or a simple walk through a park, so long as we give ourselves a real stretch of uninterrupted time and - this is key - we have to promise not to schedule anything afterwards. Our time can't be bookended by work, projects, wedding talk, family talk, or stress and to-do list obligations. Because date night is about "quality time" and I finally get it now.

9 comments:

  1. We took a mini vacation last weekend with the kids and it was wonderful (no bow chicka wow wow, of course). It was like a date-night for the whole family, and it was really, really awesome -- enough so that we've decided to work in cheap weekend trips every couple of months so that we have some real "together" time, which is so different than "hanging around the house" or "going to activities" time.

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  2. The husband and I just instituted a date night for pretty much the same reasons you discuss here. It's funny/scary how you can forget to include quiet romance in your schedule when you're seeing your partner, like, ALL OF THE TIMES. And while I truly love slouching next to him on the couch, eating wings and watching old episodes of Northern Exposure, I don't want that to become our default, ya know?

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  3. Yeah, everyday stuff somehow takes over and absorbs whatever you let it. we spend almost all our free time together and you'd think that'd be enough but somehow it's just not the same. We had a lovely vacation that gave us some of that much needed time recently. I'm gonna talk to him about this because you make a good point.

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  4. I hear ya! We spend a ton of time together but when we really stop and think about it - that time is rushing around doing errands,working on projects, meeting up with other people, etc. Our weekends and nights are booked up for weeks doing wedding related stuff, visiting with friends (together and solo) and work obligations. And if you don't really stop and make the time, it's so easy to just continue this way and fall into it.

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  5. We had to schedule date nights and quality time for this very reason. So much of our time & energy is taken up with work and social events that we're rarely just together, just be-ing. For awhile, time for us was in the interstices, but then we realized that we didn't want just the left-over time when we're both tired and distracted - we needed to appropriate some time for us to keep building our relationship, without pressure to go out or be somewhere. We pulled out the calendars, and set up date nights throughout the fall semester... seems funny, but writing it down is the only way to make it happen.

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  6. official blog sisters.

    http://happysighs.blogspot.com/2010/03/date-night.html

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  7. I LOVE THIS.

    my favorite date afternoon is when we spend Sundays at antique shops and thrift stores. we pretend we know what we're looking at and we estimate the value of things, sure we have no idea what we're talking about, but it is fun.

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  8. Ugh, this has been the past few months for us. People keep making sadface eyes at me when I say I can't wait for the wedding to be over (it is next Friday), but it's so I can actually SEE MY HUSBAND AGAIN.

    Oooh, I get to call him my husband soon. :)

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  9. okay, but just don't call it "date night."

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