Wednesday, October 8, 2014
How To Go On Dates With Your Spouse
This post is in response to a request. I love getting requests for topics (email me if you have one), both here and at the ol' YouTube channel, and I try to respond to as many as I can.
Request posts are usually fun and challenging, since it's usually on a topic in me ol' wheelhouse, but coming at me from a slightly different angle than normal. This one is extra-specially fun and challenging, not to say flattering, because it's on how to go on a date and my own wife told me I should write it! Victory and wifely affirmation!
So here I am, starting this post off with a little braggadocio and a little establishing of the bona fides. Wifey says that my approach to romance and going on a date is worth sharing with the world. Hey, I let another praise me. And then I pass it on.
You can see that I'm as pleased as punch to be praised by wifey in this way. I hadn't realized I was so good at going on dates, especially since it seems that we never get to go out. But apparently I'm a master, and I'm here to share my craft with you.
I am going to propose a certain way of looking at going on a date with your spouse, then explore what how that attitude might unfold practically. Whether you are young and childless and "going out" is an easy and frequent thing, or whether you are seasoned and weathered like wifey and I, with each date we manage to go out on being a precious treasure, I think this approach will help the romance without being desperate (for the busy parents) or contrived (for the young and free).
This past month wifey and I were able to go out on two dates (mirabile visu!). If we get one date a month we count ourselves blessed, which can put a lot of pressure on one evening, especially for wifey, for whom just leaving the house some weeks is a treat. The first date was a disaster, mostly because we can both be jerks. But for the first time in our fourteen years of marriage we had a conversation about what a date was, and what our expectations for one were. It was eye-opening for both of us. Our second date was, of course, marvelous. After we had that conversation, wifey said that she'd never thought of a date in the way I'd explained it, and told me that the blogosphere needed to know about it.
So here I am.
Very often a date, especially when it's a treat, is seen as "we can finally do that thing we've been wanting to do" or "I can finally go to that restaurant I've been dying to try". We've really been wanting this, or even we've really been needing this.
That's fine as far as it goes. There's nothing wrong with wanting a little relief, or a little treat, or a little variety. But often the wife can feel like she's owed something, and the husband can feel bound to provide that, or, archetype-of-all-archetypal-marriage-memes, the husband is left trying to guess what the wife wants out of her evening out. And if both are trying to maximize date payoff, things can get stressful.
Husbands and wives, you may have noticed, are not very much alike. Some spouses share interests, but many do not. It is not often that you find a married couple who have both been dying to go to the same new steakhouse, or see the same movie, or visit the same museum.
It is easy for a date to become about what one spouse wants, or, more commonly, to be a compromise between what each would like to do. Now, compromises in marriage are no bad thing, but they are not at all necessary here.
Let me suggest to you that, instead of seeing a date quantitatively, husband and wife should look at an evening out exactly as they would look at a dance.
The dance of a date means that the husband leads, and the wife responds. Importantly, this is not the same as doing what the husband wants. Nor is it guessing what the wife wants. Instead, the husband, who has studied his wife all these years, makes a plan for the evening completely geared towards her, and he leads her through that plan. The wife then responds, not by having specific expectations, but by allowing herself to be delighted by whatever he has chosen for her, confident that, clumsy or graceful, he has chosen everything for her enjoyment, not his.
You can see that, if you are one inclined to feel pressure or stress over a date, this would disarm any traps that might be waiting. Everything is for the wife, but she is not stressing about maximizing enjoyment because it's not her agenda, it's his. He has taken the lead in the dance, but, let's be honest, he's not on the dance floor for any other reason than that his wife wants him to be. At least, that's how dancing is for many of us men. The responsibility is his, but the fact that the agenda is his means that the wife is approaching the date as a gift, not as something that is owed or deserved or needed.
A fun way to do this, by the way, is for the husband to be coy about what the plans are. This reinforces the dancing husband-as-lead role, and increases the play of surprise in delight. Sure, wife might think that you're going to eat, or that a movie or a walk in the park might be included in the evening, but she doesn't know. She has few expectations, but is responding.
Of course, the fact that there's a plan doesn't mean it needs to be stuck to. Husband can call an audible if he likes; he responds to her as he leads. And if she doesn't know exactly what was going to come next, she doesn't even have to know that husband called an audible. She only knows that somehow this evening he knew exactly what she wanted.
So that's it. Dates as dances. That's what my wife wanted me to share, and it is done. Leave a comment below telling whether this is helpful or not, and how it resonates with your past experience. What were your best dates like? Did they look like this? Does this seem easier or more difficult than what you've been doing? Or is this too way too obvious, and you've been doing things this way since you were eighteen?
Happy loves, folks.