The other night, my husband and I went out to eat with my sister and her husband. My sister mentioned how funny it was that so many couples were sitting there alone, eating.
I was telling her how important ‘date night’ is as a couple. She is newly married, so every night is date night for her. But kids come along, and work, and life. Suddenly, you find yourself sharing 4 words a day, “good morning, good night”, and if you are not too tired, 3 more, “I love you”.
The lifestyle we grew up with did not include restaurants and take outs. Such things were a treat for the family. So for her to suddenly come to New York, where this IS the lifestyle, it was strange. And couples spending money to go out to eat by themselves, with no friends, is a waste of money. Eat supper at home and go to bed.
But is it really like that?
My husband and I rarely go out to eat. We like to keep the “treat” feeling to it, but we still make date nights. I think most couples do this. So what is a date night? Is it just me, or does it seem like ‘date night’ most often means a meal or a drink out somewhere?
No. Not in my world, anyway. I am sure I am not alone when I voice my concerns over spending money just to have some enjoyable time with my husband. Why spend on drinks when I have in the fridge? Why spend on food when I can make it, cheaper, myself? So I am going to give a couple ideas for alone time and hope that people add to my small collection. We are always up for new ideas!
One thing we both love is the couch. We dim the lights, switch off the phones, and sit with a blanket on the couch. I like this because even when we are niddah, we can still do this (we put a large item between us and have separate blankets) but it is all about the talking. Even if it lasts for 15 minutes before the baby wakes up, or it is for those 5 minutes that the supper is heating up, you are taking a time out.
It is funny that as kids, time out is a big punishment but for us adults, time out is all we want and often need.
I also love going for a walk in the park, or on the boardwalk. It is often hard to find a babysitter, so we may take the baby in the stroller. In the summer, it is so nice at night. A slight breeze, the sky at dusk, sitting on the swings or watching the waves against the rocks. It is relaxing in itself and sometimes you don’t even have to talk. The silence is the connection and it goes deep.
Rachel Naomi Remen is a Clinical professor of family and community medicine. She once said, “The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give to each other is our attention….A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words”
Listening is hard when the children are crying, supper is burning, and dishes are falling out of an overflowing sink. Connections are hard to make when there are distractions. Of course, life today is a distraction in itself. But some things are just more than others.
So turn off that phone, hold your husbands hand and sit together in quiet. Or go to your guest room, change the scenery, watch a movie, have a cup of water (or wine) together, lie there and think how lucky you are that you found 5 minutes to spend with the man of your life.
Photograph by Rivka Bauman Photography