Lifestyle Opinion

One Mom’s View …

David and Adria Giordano on Valentine's Day 2015.

Thoughts and ruminations about being a working mom, raising two daughters, and being Italian … while trying to maintain my sanity and organized closets. (My husband’s laugh, red wine, and ironing make me happy.)

By Adria Giordano

Date Nights

We often hear how important date nights are for couples. How time spent together with your significant other is critical to maintaining a healthy and successful relationship. According to an article I read recently in Psychology Today, Date Night is not a luxury but a NECESSITY. It brings about an emotional connectedness and adds “depth to your relationship,” says author and therapist Dianne Grande, Ph.D.

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, I’ve been thinking more about this “connectedness” and what am I proactively doing to add to the depth of my marriage? We will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary this year and I can honestly say, that although we love each other, and are always there for each other, date nights are not at the top of our list.

I wonder if other couples, who are in long term relationships, have date nights? And if, so how many? And even further HOW do you find the time? And energy? If they are truly a necessity as Dr. Grande says they are, then shouldn’t all couples be dating?

Between family commitments (aka: driving both girls all over West Hartford for practice, dance, food, friends, and a thousand other miscellaneous activities), work, house, and just life, date nights seem to have fallen a bit off our to-do lists. My oldest will be getting her license soon, so she can help with the driving a bit, but to be honest by 8 p.m. most Friday nights, you can find my husband and I sitting on the couch eating spareribs and sesame chicken from Butterfly Restaurant, a tradition we began when we moved here. Saturday nights are definitely easer to schedule a date night, but most weekends, we are running around so much during the day we are truly exhausted to find another reason to go out.

It’s funny because I’m 100% a romantic, and after years of wonderful and creative date nights (think pre-children), how did we somehow manage to be okay with just sitting on the couch and watching reruns of The Office? Or calling Big Y shopping together a date? Are we settling, I wonder? Have we forgotten to nourish our relationship? Where is the depth? The passion? The excitement about going out?

I will tell you where it is. It is still there, but it is quieter. It is gentler. It is hidden underneath piles of laundry, dishes to clean, and dog walks.

A new Groupon study revealed that three in 10 parents of school-age children don’t remember the last romantic date they went on, and 81% of the 2,000 parents surveyed said they’d like to have more frequent date nights, but it’s exhaustion and other commitments which keep them occupied. When I ask my girlfriends, most say the same thing. They are exhausted. Whether it’s raising a family, work, school or volunteer commitments, date nights seem to be the first thing to go when the weekends hit.

And forget going out on weeknight. If you have children, there is no way homework and everything else in the world will get done if mom is not home. The homework they have to do as they get older is daunting. There will be tears, yelling, and other fun stuff (but this is for another post) so maybe a date night IS a good idea on a weeknight.

Early on in our marriage date nights were a regular part of life. Whether it was dining at the newest restaurant, a casual drink in a neighborhood bar or just checking out the latest movie, we were young and in love and it was fun to go out. We did not have any other responsibilities besides ourselves, work, and our own finances.

When the girls came along, date nights became much more of a planned event, with babysitters to hire (lucky we had both grandmas willing and able) and schedules to work around. Our date nights became fewer and fewer, as our lives changed, and our family grew. Priorities shifted and our focus was on our children first, and everything else second, third, fourth, and so on. It seemed like date nights became a thing of the past, or on a very rare occasion to celebrate, such as a holiday or special event. They became a luxury.

We still manage date nights every so often, and I’m sure as the girls grow older and we become empty nesters, date nights will again play a more significant role, but right now we are a okay with the status quo. We are connecting in our own way, in pajamas on the couch.

A few years ago, in between dropping off the girls at a local event held in town, my husband came up with a fun twist on the typical date night. It was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day and he suggested a “date day” at our favorite restaurant while the girls were at this event. It was the perfect solution. Not only did we have a much easier time finding a restaurant reservation, but it was fun going out for a date in the middle of the day. Something outside of our typical weekend routine. Something from the past.

I can completely understand why dates and focusing on each other is important. Even if it’s for only a few hours. And even if we only talk about the girls. Or go over our weekly schedule. (Or both). We hold hands, we laugh, and we remember who we were before we became parents, and more importantly who are to each other.

As we celebrate 20 years of marriage this fall, I’m looking forward to more dates. Whether it’s night or day, walking through the park or in aisle 7 of Big Y, as long as we are reconnecting it works.

Sitting on our coach definitely has its pluses, but I don’t think falling asleep in the first 20 minutes of our date is probably what Dr. Grande had in mind.

Happy Valentine’s Day friends!

~ Adria

P.S.: Looking for some last-minute fun and inexpensive ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Check out this article from Cosmopolitan . (#5 is my favorite, but I think we would fall asleep, #6 is more our speed 😊, and #7 I do for my girls.)

Adria Giordano describes herself as a mom, wife, fundraiser, party planner, and blogger. She is a currently the director of development for Chrysalis Center in Hartford, CT. She lives in West Hartford with her husband, two teenage daughters, and mini goldendoodle puppy.

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