When things start to get a little bit tense around the home you can bet your bottom dollar you need a date night.
But a date night is not just for young couples raising kids and struggling to find quality grown up ‘alone’ time.
As much as I know how precious that time is, when you’re surrounded by children all day and you start to wonder if you will ever again see a candle lit meal or open your sexy lingerie drawer, that time will pass all too quickly and you will be waving your kids off to new adventures before you can blink an eye.
I remember how valuable those days were when we were raising our kids. It often felt as though our children were the only thing that we had in common and I would wonder, if we took them out of the equation, would we have anything left to talk about? So date night became a life line, an anchor to adult conversation that was about us, as a married couple, as lovers and friends and we had a rule never to mention the kids.
The thing is, eventually the kids did grow up and are for the most part ‘out of the equation’, so to speak. And inevitably the big question hung larger than life, looming over our marriage like a super cell storm formation. Did we still have anything in common?
Over the last few years our date nights have become few and far between, I suppose partly because our kids were in transition from living at home, to moving out, to moving back home, to moving abroad. We were downsizing from the farm to a suburban home, and our business was suffering from the commodities downturn. Date night just got forgotten about.
So when the dust finally settled and we stopped to take a breath I realised I had lost touch with the person I was married to. It was time to reassess who I was as an individual and who we were as a couple.
After your kids leave home you will inevitably find yourself asking the same question I did. Do we still have anything in common?
You may also find at this stage in your life you hide behind ‘busy’ work. Things like house repairs, work/running the business, re-designing the layout of the pantry…you get where I’m going. Basically, we are playing the avoidance game, too scared to ask the hard questions that will inevitably come.
The thing is, sometimes we allow ourselves to deny the hole in our heart that is created when our children leave home. Laughing it off with comments like “finally; I thought they would never leave”.
But inside we are breaking.
And for a little while, that is O.K. You both need time to adjust to the quiet.
But sooner rather than later we need to address the white elephant in the room. Our relationship with our spouse.
The gaping hole left by the absence of children, the need to re-evaluate personal desires and goals, and the realisation that you are not as young as you think you are can leave us detached from ourselves and our partners. Uncertain of how this void will be filled and uncertain if the marriage is strong enough to weather the storm.
Such emotional turmoil can raise an ocean of questions.
The answer to these questions will be different for every couple, but if you have the desire and commitment, you have a pretty good chance of re-booting your relationship, bigger and better than ever.
The Power of date night.
Now if you have let your date night practices slip over time or never actually embraced the concept; after the kids leave home is the perfect time to get on board the date night party bus and head on over to happy town.
The simple act of going out to dinner with your spouse can build the same sense of expectation that once flooded your senses as a teen heading out on a first date. Your pulse may quicken and you may indeed feel some sense of anxiety. Will the well of conversation be dry? What will you do if you have nothing to say?
But mostly you will hopefully feel a sense of excitement.
You and your guy. Out on the town. Definitely selfie worthy.
Dress yourself up, put on a bit of lippy (or Man balm) and get your sexy on. After years of parenting conversations now is your time to get back in touch with your inner siren and live it up a little.
Date night is now all about you and your spouse, just like the pre-kid good old days.
No longer do you need to check your watch to monitor your baby sitter check in times, or race home early because little Tommy won’t go to sleep. No longer are you tied to the constraints of being a responsible parents. And no longer do you need to wait up till all hours to hear your P plater son return.
No, this is your life and now is your time to live it.
Mature age Date night gives you the chance to re-kindle the romance between you and your partner with no limits. And I mean NO LIMITS. Lose your inhibitions and get adventurous. Even if its just once, try something you haven’t done before…I will leave that up to your imagination.
But seriously, date night offers you the chance to ignite that flame that perhaps flickers perilously close to extinguishment. It gives you a chance to remember the attributes that drew you to each other in the first place and an opportunity to fall in love all over again.
And who doesn’t love that feeling of falling in love.
Date night Suggestions.
Now, the first thing people say when you bring up date nights, is that it’s too expensive. And sure, it is very easy to head on out to a 7 star hotel and spend a small fortune.
But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is up to your imagination and your budget as to what you get up to on your date nights and what it ends up costing you.
So, here are a couple of low cost suggestions to get you started.
Home movie festival;
Dim the lights (or turn off a few strategic lights), light a few candles, and snuggle up on the couch with a glass of your favourite beverage accompanied by a cheese platter, and settle in for a great movie marathon from netflix. Or just gaze into each others eyes like you used to in the back row of the cinema.
Naked Pasta Party;
Now this is a party for two in my book, but feel free to invite some adventurous friends if that is your thing. 😉
Start with a nice bath or shower together, so your all mellowed out and ready for a bake off. Drop your towels and don an apron, of you must, and set off to create the worlds messiest past dish.
There is something strangely seductive about making pasta from scratch, especially if your man stands behind you and helps you need the dough.
Ultimately, if you manage to get most of the flour in places it should never be, you are on track for the perfect naked pasta party. If you somehow get a few strands of pasta in the pot to eat it…bonus!
Read 50 Shades (together);
do I need to explain this one?
Life after kids can be one of the biggest tests your marriage will have to face. So it’s just as important to take a little “us” time when the the kids have flown the coop as it ever was when they were clinging to your legs while you made dinner.
Ultimately, like everything in life, it’s not about what you do but how you do it. It’s about having fun together, having real conversations, and it’s about finding a new common ground.
When you develop that new foundation you will see your relationship grow, stronger than ever and able to withstand the harshest of storms you never thought previously possible.
Until next time
Stay safe, laugh and love lots, and be happy.