how come you're here at like the Gas 'n' Sip on a Saturday night completely alone drinking beers?
I've learned a great deal in my years of marriage. How to compromise on decisions (Check that. How to make a decision when no one else steps into one). That it's better if we don't share a bathroom. Always have a book to read when there's 12 episodes of "Farscape" on the DVR and his itchy trigger finger is on the remote. That even though someone says they believe they'll die if they eat onions, they won't actually do so when you cook with them anyway (case proven time and time again).
In all I've learned, however, there seems to be one thing I've forgotten.
How to date.
Of course, this is good news for my husband, what with the vows we exchanged and all. He's forgotten how to date, too, so props to us on that whole marriage thing working out so far.
But the gist of this is that in our amnesiac state - not necessarily brought on as a result of marriage, but perhaps contributed to - it does seem we have forgotten how to date each other.
Being a reader with a magnetic core that propels me toward the self help and sexuality sections of every bookstore I enter (I leave it at home on the nights I'm scheduled to work because aside from shooing away the silly 11 year old boys giggling over a drawing of boobs in some sex book, it really gets in the way of accomplishing anything), I'm well versed on the whole idea that dating your spouse helps keep the romance in marriage alive. It sparks conversation and makes you eager to be around each other. And, of course, these marital dates often result in sex, so you skip past that whole awkward "do you really make that face when you eat?" stage of getting to know someone. You know they already do.
They also dig lots of science fiction television and you can live with that. Because you have a book.
Anyway, before my husband and I created heirs to our substantial pop bottle redemption fortune, we'd often go out. We'd go for drives in the middle of the afternoon simply to spend the time together. We'd make out (that's code for "not just make out") at a drive in. We made those faces.
Fast forward a few years. The kids are little and cute and the grandparents loved to oogle over them, so we could visit them and then sneak out of their houses and have a couple hours to ourselves before they ever realized we were gone. Dating and swooning still well in place.
Hit the brakes on the present. We still rely on the naivete of the grandparents to care for our children (they've never had childcare other than a family member because honestly, I have to figure out a way to pay for my kids to go to college and I can't afford to be giving beer money to the teenage girl down the street on a regular basis). The grandparents are a bit older. The kids are a lot more responsibility. They're noisier and require a bit more entertaining. So we don't tend to foist them onto them as much. We wait around and hope that one of them will call and offer to keep them for a few hours or (jackpot!) overnight.
My mom offered to do just that this past weekend and I was ecstatic. I love these boys with everything I have, but sometimes I need to recover my house and restore my ability to mother them by not having them around for a few hours. Plus, I'm eager to spend some time alone with my husband. We do much independently of the other these days, just by the basis of schedules and abilities, I felt it was important we connect.
So Friday night, he returns from dropping the boys at my mom's. We're broke in the sense that cobwebs grow in our pockets, so we cooked a nice meal at home and ate it outside. In silence. Except for when my husband would talk about the boys. Or work. Or work the boys could do around the palace.
"We're on a date here..." I'd remind him.
Then we'd go back to eating quietly.
Granted, we're both stressed. We don't have the money to capriciously go out and do fancy things (or cripes, even not so fancy things). There's lots of things coming down the pike here that never make just relaxing and giving it all up that easy to do. But the goal of the night was to do just that. So my hopes were raised a bit when we ended up on the couch in our darkened living room. I've done some quality dating on a couch.
However, an hour later, we were still each on opposite sides, the sun has set and blackened the room completely, and we're debating (complete with eye rolling) the existence of hell as spurred by an episode of "20/20". Jealous yet? "20 - freakin' - 20"! I've not seen an episode of that since I was 12 years old.
An hour later, he goes to bed. I'm up flipping past the 12 episodes of "Farscape" on the DVR, and I'm thinking just show sucky the night was. Completely. That I should have just worked, as I typically do on Friday nights, that I'm irritated at the inability to have a conversation, and that I just simply miss knowing how to date.
Perhaps I put too much pressure on the idea of this rare time we get alone. Maybe I expect entirely too much. I may acquiesce to some of that. But not entirely, and not just because I enjoy debating things aside from the existence of hell. What do you think? Do you still comfortably date your spouse? Do you find that I lost my point in this entry about the middle of the third paragraph? Do you think we put too much pressure on the other person to be the one who comes up with stellar ideas? Do you believe in hell?
I do, just a little bit. At least it felt like last Friday night was a little like a low rent version of hell. And I believe the kitchen uses onions there, too, so you still can't get away with that whole "I'll die if I eat another onion" argument there, either.