Our Story Begins:
Why This Dad CRAVES Date Night
It might seem a little odd that a guy who’s not married any more would write you an entire article about “date night.” But stick with me here . . . there’s a reason it comes up.
I was flipping through channels over the last weekend, a brief moment of solitude in the life of a single dad. Stopping at a random movie channel, that I came upon the movie King Arthur. As historically inaccurate, critically panned and artistically questionable as some people may have found this Antoine Fuqua movie . . . I love it, but not for the reasons you’d think.
I hadn’t seen King Arthur since it was in theaters in 2004. Even then I had no desire to see it. The movie came just about a year after my twin sons were born. Those first months to a year were some of the hardest we’d had as a married couple. I don’t think we’d been out together, alone, in that whole year. Before you criticize, I know that wasn’t healthy and we both understood how tired, run down and snippy we were with each other.
This was the point in our marriage where Andrea came home from work and immediately changed into sweats and a t-shirt, no matter how gorgeous she looked in her business suit. I plopped on the couch and watched TV after changing my own clothes. We grunted our terrible parts of our day to each other and never managed to tell each other the obvious: “It’s better now that you’re here!”
This date night was, for whatever reason, like a real date. Not “date night” but an actual, put in the time, the effort, makeup, nice clothes, groom yourself to look nice date. I opened the door for my wife. We went to dinner at a restaurant that didn’t offer a kids menu. We had actual pauses in our conversation.
When we decided on a whim to see a movie all the huge releases were sold out or there was nothing we wanted to see. To have a night together, rekindling all those memories of our past . . . we saw what was left: King Arthur.
This wasn’t about the movie. This was, quite simply, revisiting our relationship after a painfully long delay. The lesson I learned is that we had both taken marriage for granted. When we went out, we did what was convenient. We didn’t get new clothes or dress up or go out and treat the other person like they were the only person in the room. This night . . . this crazy, silly, innocuous night . . . we suddenly saw the reasons we’d gotten married. We laughed, we acted silly, danced on the sidewalk and we didn’t take the other person for granted.
I remember, in vivid detail now, watching Clive Owen and Keira Knightley on the screen and feeling my wife’s hand make its way into mine and how warm and caring this small little gesture was. I remember kissing her at the door, just to be silly and funny . . . and kissing her for a long time. The memory’s so vivid I can feel her hand and her lips even today. This was our lesson. Marriage is an effort and lots of work. We’d put in that work when we were new to the relationship. We both realized we had made it routine.
After losing Andrea it became clear I didn’t do enough of that. With her gone I don’t simply crave companionship; I actually miss the work it took to get there. So this is my lesson to all of you that have the option: treat your spouse like you were dating. Your kids are not an excuse, if they see you making time to be the person they fell in love with . . . they’ll take that as a lesson for their own future. The person you fell for is there, I promise. They may be tired, beat up, maybe a few more lines on their face or what have you . . . but they’re there. If you put in the effort they will too.
What about you? Do you follow the routine? Is there a “date night” that’s as routine as your daily life or do you tear it up when you’re together? What do you do to keep things alive?
Dave Manoucheri is a writer, journalist and musician based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins is a chronicle of their life after the loss of his wife, Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.