Tonight is date night. I love date nights. It’s kind of a big deal to me. Maybe it’s the prospect of eating food I didn’t have to cook, or the opportunity to put on some lipstick, great shoes, and feel to pretty, or maybe it’s just the promise of an evening out with my person, but even after 13 years together and countless dates, it all still makes me a bit excitable.
I will be the first to admit though, that sometimes my expectations get a little lofty. Sometimes I hold Date Night with such a high regard that I darn near expect it to be some kind of magical, mystical experience. Why do I do that, I wonder? Expectations are tricky little buggars.
It is at best, unwise, and at worst, dangerous when I let my expectations dictate my actions- in marriage, in work, in friendships, in just about anything. An attitude of “I’ll do this for you, if (or because) you do that for me,” or “I’ll work hard at this, only because it might get me that”, or “I expect you to be A, B, and C to me, and if you aren’t, you are letting me down,” is very dangerous ground to tread, especially in marriage.
I’m guilty of this. Whether I realize it or not, I often let selfishness lay the groundwork for my expectations of others, which in turn lays the groundwork for disappointment, resentment, or hurt.
Date night for us usually includes a trip to the movie theater. We are movie people. Roughly %60 of all our conversations are comprised of movie quotes strung together to form some kind feeling or idea. It’s how we communicate. It might not be normal but it works for us. We often don’t feel like we’ve actually seen a movie until we’ve seen it together.
So we have a little movie ritual. For 13 years, without fail, every time the lights begin to dim and the popcorn and hot dogs on the screen stop singing and dancing, I’ll lean over and say “Make it a date” and he kisses me, thus commencing the “date” portion of the evening. One, maybe two times he forgets or I forget, and my stomach lurches as I realize with horror “what we’ve become.” We forgot to kiss! What does it all mean?
At dinner, instead of relaxing and enjoying the comfortable silence that settles between us I’ll let my inner monologue take over. “So 13 years, huh? This is how long it takes? To become that couple? That couple with nothing but dead air between us?” It doesn’t help that my inner monologue is wildly imaginative, a bit of a stress case, and also appears to pose every sentences as a question.
I wonder how many times my poor husband has walked unaware into a booby trap that I have unwittingly set. It’s silly, really. I never used to think twice about this nonsense. Maybe it’s the change that inevitably comes with having kids. Maybe it’s the million little outside stresses of work and responsibility and money and life that can often creep into our happy, intimate little bubble. Maybe that’s why when date nights or the rare vacation together come along I put so much pressure on these events to be something fantastical.
Maybe it’s just growing pains. Ah, but growth it a good and necessary thing, isn’t it?
The real truth is that my inner monologue is a bit of a fool. The real truth is that what we share is lovely. It’s familiar and comforting and easy. It is good and solid and weathered and strong. It has grown down roots. It’s still even romantic and twitterpating- maybe not all the time, but it’s there when we open our eyes and see it.
Sometimtes it’s a passing kiss in the hallway while we gather up kids’ backpacks in the morning, or a smile that says “I love you” when our eyes meet in the middle of the dinnertime fray. Sometimes it’s the usual dinner+movie date night. Sometimes it’s making out on the end of a pier in Mexico and remembering that making out is fun! Sometimes it’s the solid comfort of leaning my head on his chest while we watch tv on the couch. Sometimes it’s waking up each day and making the choice to love, even when it’s difficult. Sometimes it’s the joy of finding that it isn’t difficult at all.
Whether it’s unexpected and exotic or mundane and reliable, the romance is there. We need only to seek it out. It’s not hard to find.
* This is Day 17 of a 31 Day series on Keeping It Real. You can find all of the posts in this series here. I hope you follow along and join the conversation! *