Friday, October 14, 2011

31 days || fourteen: date night.

 {photo by Kris Kimel}

I have decided that I am going to tell you what no one else tells you. 

Dating is the easy part. 

Now look; don't misunderstand. 

I love my marriage. My husband is a blessing to me, and our wedding day was one of the happiest of my life. I am thrilled with how God’s plan took hold in our lives, how He brought us together and made us to help each other through this life. 

But dating was easier. 

Easier because in dating, you know what you have to do. It’s right there in the word itself. You have to date. 

You have to make effort, have to get dressed, go somewhere, pay for dinner or a movie or a museum, eat a picnic, take cheesy pictures, pretend like your breath never stinks, etc., etc., etc. 

Marriage is a little trickier. 

Because now, you are grown-ups. 

And you have to work all day. 

And when one of you gets sick, the other one is sure to come next. 

And you will live in this cycle of sickness until you think you can bear it no more. 

You will go from seeing each other constantly to seeing each other rarely. 

And that is a tough adjustment. 

Which is why Jordan and I instituted date night at the very beginning of our marriage. 

For those of you who haven’t been reading this blog for very long, Jordan and I got married right in the middle of his law school career. I was the sole breadwinner for our family. Money was tight. 

But that didn’t stop date night from happening. 

Every Friday night, Jordan and I drop what we are doing, and we hang out together. Sometimes, that means getting dressed up (defined: nice pair of jeans) and going out to our favorite restaurant. (We have a few; they're all local. At the risk of sounding like some hipster snob, you should be eating local too.) Sometimes it means cooking together and going out for dessert. (Tricky since I married someone who abhors ice cream. For shame!) Sometimes it means ordering pizza and getting in our pajamas and setting out blankets on the living room floor. Sometimes we go see a movie or watch something on Netflix. We drive to Thomasville or attend first Friday art shows. We hang out at Barnes and Noble, and I beg Jordan for a new book.

It doesn’t really matter what we do. 

We just make sure it happens. 

And if Friday night is the only time our friends can get together for dinner, or if we’re headed out of town for the weekend, or some family function overrides our date night plans?

Well, we just go out Saturday. 

Or we have a lunch date during the week instead. (I love lunch dates. Love them.)

Date nights are essential. 

And I know there are a million and one reasons not to do them. 

But for us, they are a rescue raft. A lifeline when our lives are drowning in busy-ness and jobs and stress and full calendars and flag football and tutoring and church and friends and stuff

Without date night, our marriage could quickly become a "You’re an awesome roommate" situation. (For the record, Jordan is the best roommate I have ever had. I had some serious roommate issues in college.)

During the week, we try to make time for each other by walking and cooking together. We catch up as we check the mail and cook our favorite meals. But soon the television is turned on, or one of us falls asleep (me), or the telephone rings, or Leslie Knope says something funny.

So it can be easy to kind of lose touch throughout the week. 

But date night?

Oh, date night is fun. 

It takes me a little while to warm up, to shake the fog that follows me home from work, to ignore the part of me that just wants to crawl into bed when Friday night finally comes. 

But once that fog has lifted, I am present, and I am grateful. 

Already, I think, we are learning how marriage could look. And we don’t always like what we see. 

We are all too aware of what marriage can become, of how excellent can become good can become okay can become not-very-good-at-all.

Dating is easy. You can quit. You can give up. You can see each other most any old time. 

Marriage is hard. It is effort. It is choice. It is a decision that has already been made. It is largely dependent on the work you choose to give it.

My marriage is easy in the sense that I firmly believe God helped me choose the right person. God opened my eyes to a nerdy curly-haired boy who loves and respects me in just the ways I hoped for. 

My marriage is hard in the sense that I am selfish. We are selfish. And the world can be a stressful place. And there are a lot of okay, so-so marriages out there. 

We want excellent. 

And date night, as silly as it sounds, helps make that a possibility. 

---

Single, dating, or married, what are your favorite date night ideas?

9 comments:

Relevant Notes Blog said...

I love the idea of having a date night when my fiance and I get married - it definitely doesn't sound silly!

How on earth is it possible to abhor ice cream? I'm in shock. ;)

Cindy P said...

Collin and I have date night every week ourselves. It is extremely important to keep the spark going in our marriage. And like you, it's usually Friday nights but sometimes other events make us move it to another day. Most of the time we find something cheap (or free) to do together but we always make sure we are together and having fun. I think my favorite date night though is going to Chick-Fil-A for dinner and then walking around Ross or Marshall's and just seeing what kind of fun stuff they have. And most often we don't buy anything, we just like to dream about our future home when we have a little extra spending cash.

monster cakes said...

Amen. We have a hard time keeping a weekly date night since his schedule shifts every week, but when we do have date night, I wonder why we would ever willingly miss it! It's so sacred and special and necessary! I love when you said "it is choice" about marriage. I've always tried to think of love as a verb and not an adjective. That way, when I don't "feel" the love, I am practiced in still acting it out despite the lack of emotion. And some days I'm so full of love, acting it out is a piece of cake. Just as long as I remember it's an action. A choice. Favorite date night ideas? Scrabble. Driving and singing to old high school tunes in the car at the top of our lungs. Smoking a cigar together after the sun goes down (the occasional bad habit, but makes for the best conversations for us). Wandering through Target and each getting a $5-10 limit. Yey for date night!

jordancristine said...

thanks for the date night encouragement! "our night" is thursday, and i do love it and look forward to it each week. it's been tricky lately with a tight budget and two little babies, but i am thankful that it's becoming a routine. now you have me dreaming a little about what we can do next thursday...:)

Sydney said...

that just made my day! I'm not married yet but I LOVE things like this, messages that I know I was supposed to read. Thank you so much for sharing! It really does make a difference, your 31 days are going great so far!

Elizabeth Dean said...

One of my favorite dates that K and I had were to go to very small town local museums. We are both history nerds and loved seeing how Appilachicola celebrated their history with the world's 'first' air conditioner. I am making a dissertation chapter out of the Stephen Foster museum in White Springs.

I love local history.

TefMarie said...

I like having my own date night with Andy Bernard from 'The Office.'

But maybe one day, my date night will entail each of us taking turns doing something the other enjoys, whether it's football games or a trip to Bass Pro, or a walk around Hallmark and gelato.

Annie said...

I love this. Date night is something I definitely want to make a priority when I get married.

Sabrina said...

The other night the moon was just gorgeous and it made me think a late night picnic would be a perfect date.