J was looking a little morose as he left for work this morning. “Cheer up!” I said. “It’s date night!”
“Oh…right!” he said, feigning enthusiasm. Hmmm, I thought. J does not seem very pumped for date night. Could it be because we spent our last “date night” caulking the bathtub? (I wish I was kidding.) Actually, he caulked the bathtub, at my request. I felt guilty that he was spending the evening working, so I deep-cleaned the kitchen. We collapsed into bed around midnight, exhausted and smelling of Comet (me) and mildew (him), and declared our date night a dismal failure. I comforted myself with lies: “After 13 years together, we don’t have to actually be in the same room to enjoy eachother’s company!” Uh-oh. I think we’ve hit a low point.
Because every women’s and parenting magazine I read insists that without regular “date nights” our marriage will fall apart, Fridays have been designated “date night” in our house for awhile. We don’t actually go on a real date. No, we have two very small kids and a going-out budget of approximately 0 dollars, plus, going out would require us to change out of our sweatpants. Date night is usually spent on the couch in front of the TV. We’re okay with this. At least, I thought we were, but, as it turns out, it’s a pretty slippery slope from hanging out on the couch together in our sweats to using that time to, well, re-caulk the tub.
It wasn’t always this way. On our first designated date night, I bought fresh mussels, sourdough bread, and arugula, and cooked a real dinner, which we ate by candlelight after the boys went to bed – meaning we didn’t have to wolf down our meal while getting pablum flung in our faces, and our food was still hot, two huge improvements over most of our meals these days. I even changed out of my yoga pants and put real clothes on, took my hair out of its perpetual ponytail, and put on some mascara. We talked about things other than the kids and our to-do list. In my rosy memory of that evening, there is a string quartet playing in the background, flirty glances are exchanged, wine glasses clink…I may be adding elements from a jewellery commercial, but it is a lovely memory nonetheless.
Fast forward a few months and date night “dinner” is usually a Delissio pizza (which, on the night of the tub-caulking, I somehow managed to botch by forgetting to remove the cardboard under the pizza before I put it in the oven), the sweats stay on, and one of us is generally asleep before 10 pm.
Obviously we need to shake it up. So I turned to the internet, which has no shortage of “date night in” ideas, beyond the standard “Have an Italian theme night!” (way too much work) and “Have a picnic on your living room floor!” (But the table…is…right…there!) How about:
- Host a book club…for two! The instructions for this date say “Check out two copies of the same book at the library and discuss the book as you read it.” This made me laugh out loud, for real. Maybe its just because J has read about four books the entire time I’ve known him (he’s the smartest man I know, honestly, but the guy is not a reader), or maybe its because this sounds like English class. And there’s nothing more romantic than similes and metaphors and plot arcs.
- Make out during the DVD menu music! Really? Am I the only one who finds music on a 45-second loop to be incredibly distracting? And am I supposed to do this before or after the movie? Because if it’s before, we’re probably not going to watch it, so what would be the point? And I will no doubt be asleep by the time the credits roll, so after isn’t really an option either.
- Babysit for a friend! Bahahaha! I highly recommend this one to all our childless friends. Come on over. Spend the evening with our twins. The teamwork required to get them fed, bathed, and in bed will surely strengthen your relationship. Listen with bated breath to the baby monitor, waiting for one of them to wake up just as you pull your patented yawn-and-put-your-arm-around-your-date move. It’ll be great.
It looks like the internet has failed me once again. What to do? It’s date night. But my carpets could use a good steam cleaning, and I have one of those delicious garlic-bread-crust Delissios in the freezer.