My husband and I celebrate our five year wedding anniversary this weekend! I cannot believe how fast that time has gone. At brunch yesterday, as we reflected on our first five years in marriage, we agreed our life doesn’t look very much how we thought it would. But it’s pretty great nonetheless.
When we were newly engaged and planning our wedding, I naively believed that once we were married we would have all this time to just be together. Every night would be like date night with dinner and conversation and snuggling on the couch with our favorite books or a good TV show. Oh early twenties Sydney. How romantic you were.
Of course some nights are more traditionally date-night like. But mostly they are not. We work opposite schedules and even nights when we are both home, there’s still house work to do and dishes to clean up. (I also can’t stay up past 8:30 PM in front of the TV on a weeknight so there is that tiny flaw in the plan.)
So with the busyness of daily life how do people make time for date nights out? We don’t have children so this should be easy, right? So what are we doing wrong? How do we make time for each other? And friends? And all the other important people we want quality time with?
I realized this summer that my mindset around a date with my husband was the problem. I wanted us to have time for a long romantic dinner with hours to talk and then maybe a movie, and walk home holding hands would be nice. And if that wasn’t what happened I felt disappointed. Or like it didn’t count. Because I couldn't pull off what I thought a date should look like, I didn't even think to explore other options.
But then early this fall my mindset changed. Nick was working an odd shift that meant when he was on a work stretch, our hours at home together were 3:30 AM to whenever I left for work. We realized one day while talking on the phone that we hadn't spent any waking hours together in over a week, which meant we hadn't talked about anything other than administrative dog and household items. I didn't even know what he'd been up to at work, and I realized I had a long list of things I wanted to ask him about that were unimportant, but I knew he'd find interesting. We needed to find a way to make some time, and so we did.
The next day I went in late to work and Nick woke up early. We went out for breakfast instead of dinner and a movie. We only had an hour, but an hour is better than no time at all. I was worried about not being in the office right away, but work was still there at 9:00. I’m not saving lives, and no one really even noticed I was late. Of course I can't do this all the time, and to some showing up late is never an option, but it worked for us. And more importantly, it made me realize that sometimes an hour of face to face conversation with no agenda is really all you need to feel connected to someone.
Since our breakfast date, I've been reconsidering what "date night" can be. It can be grocery shopping together, a long walk with the dog before Nick leaves for work and I go to bed, or rearranging our schedules to make an hour during a busy stretch possible. I know that in reality, we're not that busy. Our schedules are just odd. And as introverts and people with quality time as our top love language, we require lots of quiet time together to really feel like we had the experience we wanted.
So if you're feeling starved for time with your spouse, roommate, best friend, sibling or anyone else important to you, try thinking about your time together differently. Short and simple can be more important than grand and adventurous if the latter will never actually happen.
Once I started viewing our time in a new way, I noticed lots of advice about quality time I had completely ignored before. In closing, I'd like to share this advice with you. I hope it encourages you to plan some quality time with someone you've been missing lately.
The Lazy Genius Goes on a Date Night - I was sold when she suggested browsing a bookstore or Target together.
Tried-and-Tested Strategies That Busy Couples Use to Spend More Time Together - A lot of this advice didn't ring true for me, but it did make me think about looking at my time differently, which proved to be super useful.
Go On an Errand Date - Gretchen and Elizabeth talk about going on a sisterly errand date. When I was growing up errand dates were the main source of quality time I spent with my dad. Who says I can't turn grocery shopping into an errand date with my spouse? Cub Foods is now the official host of many-a-date night at our house hold.