Friday, July 8, 2011

The Drama with Date Night for Married People

Oh hilarious.
This morning my husband gets that he has been super focused on his book and work lately and not present with me. He asks me if we can have a date, the kids will go to the hourly drop off child care place that they love, Super Fun, dinner and maybe a movie, and I am delighted. "Ok it's a date!" He says with bravado, and I am grinning like a silly wasn't always this easy to get a date with my husband.
Ben, in his Star Wars underwear, perched on the arm of our couch, pipes up, "But Mom, if you and Dad are already married, why do you have to go on a date?"

A giant Man Committee in my head shouts "YEAH!!!! WHY? We did the courting! We wooed and won you over, why do you married women need us to do that darn date stuff, and PRETEND we are having a date?" I laugh as I hear men groan around the world.
I ask Todd if he heard and we chuckle together. Then I get to answering my son's very good question.

"Well, Ben, it's like you and a friend. You make a friend, and to be REALLY good friends, you need to spend time together and play, laugh, learn what the other person likes right? Well, Mommy and Daddy need to do that too. We spend time where Daddy only focuses on me and I only focus on interruptions from Bronson, laundry or the phone."

He nods understandingly. But I appreciate his question. Men from all cultures have it that when they woo and date a women, once they get her the ring, marry and give up all other temptations from other women, gosh darn it, then that should be enough! It just doesn't make a bit of sense to men that they should "have to" keep trying to win their women's affections when the winning has been won. In other words, game over. I imagine that men say it to each other all the time at Bachelor parties... "Game over man, You're DONE. After tomorrow you only have one women for the rest of your LIFE."
The courting and hunt for a woman is done after marriage. The game has been played. Most men want to just kick back and enjoy their life, retire the tux and the suit and tie, have time with the Misses be watching TV together, maybe a drink together, and straightforward roll in the hay. No fuss no muss. Why not? He earned it!
The whole idea of a "date" with a wife just doesn't make any sense. Especially to couples without children. Why get all gussied up for each other when we can just stay home and strip and get straight to it? Total insanity! A date is what you do when you want to get to know, romance, woo and entice a woman. Your wife, well, you know her and she's supposed to be a sure thing now, right?

And for married men with kids, well, a date is just frustrating. First of all, there is the hassle of the babysitter. Usually the wife takes care of it, but the man always gets bothered by who or what time or driving her home or something...and then there's the cost, sixty bucks for some teen or college girl to come over and get the kids ready for bed for an hour and then sit on her butt and watch TV for the next three hours. What a rip off.
Second, there's the getting dressed up thing again, which is a pain, and that look your wife gives you like, "You are going to wear THAT?" Men never had to put up with that when they were actually dating...the women got whatever shirt the man damn well felt like wearing and looked DELIGHTED to see him, yes, in THAT.
Thirdly there is the cost of the dinner and maybe movie too, all in all it could be almost 200 bucks for a night out and sitter and in a day or two the wife will bitch about how badly we need money to save for college. A guy just can't do enough.
On top of all that, unless we throw a few more hundred dollars out there and get a hotel, the supposed "sure thing" for a married man with children is definitely not a sure thing. The kids might be a tangled mass, sleeping in our bed, one might wander in just as we are starting to get to bed, or as soon as we get home the wife might remember that she needs to make brownies for tomorrow's potluck or patch together that costume the kid needs. The man's shoulder drop, defeated again...duped into playing the "game" of Date Night that he just can't win.
To a man, the whole Date Night concept can be a big farce. Sure, some get excited about the movie out and the good steak, but their idea of the date night is totally different from the wife.

She wants to relive the romance, the starry eyes, the candle light. She wants to feel whisked away to a fantasy place that smells like flowers and spices while he stares into her eyes and her eyes only. She wants to feel adored and desired. Even if he has to pretend, she doesn't care, just muster up your attention for one night once in a while and look into my eyes and find me Fascinating, dammit!!! She really doesn't care as much about the point of the date, warming up for the jump in the she really wants the experience of the desire and romance beforehand. The married woman often feels like she has been duped...all that courting and romance in the beginning and NOW look what I get. What a farce! I've been tricked!
She really doesn't get why her husband doesn't WANT to do a Date Night with her. Why he is not excited to get dressed up, oogle her in her perfect dress, kiss her neck as they go out the door, hold her hand and rub the small of her back as they wait for a table. She doesn't GET why he doesn't WANT to go on a date, whatever it costs, to spend time alone with HER, he used to practically drool when he saw her dressed up! Logically too, she doesn't get why he doesn't want to keep the marriage blooming and growing, thriving instead of surviving each other. The wife with children is desperate for date nights to "get away" as well, but may also feel guilt over leaving babies or small children. She may worry so much that a date night is just too stressful, so she gives up. She resorts to taking scraps of connection, like an ice cream outside on the porch to look at the moon and talk for a half hour after the kids go to bed. "Ok", she sighs in her head, "I guess that was a date."

That is the real point. That a Date Night really is whatever the couple creates that it is. And it doesn't have to be "settling". We can actually be thrilled about an ice cream and the moon. I will never forget the date Todd took me on recently to watch the sunset over a huge lake and eat chocolate and drink a glass of red wine and talk about everything and nothing. Last year, the time we took to ask each other what the perfect date night would be for each of us was a huge shift in generosity for me. When I heard him describe in detail, going out for a nice casual dinner in comfy clothes, talking about our books, going to a book store and checking out the latest books, then maybe a coffee or dessert too, that was a great night out too. And it included learning something new as well. I resisted it, because I wanted Date Night to be all about ME, but I have to admit I loved the idea of that evening too.
When we did that Date Night, and I actually enjoyed it, something shifted for Todd too, he saw I was willing to acknowledge his desires and his desire to fulfill my desires...well, let's just say we have a lot more Date Nights now! :)
So, a Toast to Friday night Date Nights everywhere,however they are, creating moonlight and merriment, married and in love.

Zen Honeycutt

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