Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Give Me Your Boring

Perhaps one of the reasons I am a self-proclaimed non-romantic is the idea that meaningfulness is supposed to be flowers and candlelit dinners and teddy bears with heart-shaped tummies. Now we all know that can't be all the time, the impassioned speeches of love, the "promises," the red roses. 

I'm more of an "everyday" sort of girl. I care about a relationship for the day-to-day. Sure, he can sing "Eshes Chayil" weekly, but how does that help me when I have an overflowing garbage can and too few hands?

Same thing with vacations. While I do enjoy seeing new places (although I am certainly not a good traveler) I don't feverishly plan them the way some others do. If I am leaving the country, nice. If I never do again, okay. Because I don't "need to get away."

Life is the everyday. Not the once in a while. 

Raluca State wrote "I Don't Believe in Date Night." (Horrors!) While it's nice and all, her argument is that getting out every once in a while and shimmying into something non-baby projectile friendly is not what keeps her marriage tight. 
I believe in everything that happens in between date nights.
Life isn't the romance or the getaways. Life is the tedious, the routine, the vacuuming. Sure, it's not dazzling, but it's real. And just because it's rather dull doesn't make it any less important. 

Take child care. Existence for full-time mommies revolve around nap times, mashed yams, and baby talk. While some may consider such a role to be intellectually oppressive, consider the greater picture: She is raising the next generation; she is teaching that child how to behave and how to believe. That can provide a great spiritual high, in my opinion. And I can say that after holding a vomiting niece over the bathtub.

"While you are scrubbing that pot," a psychologist guru would say, "you are doing your tafkid." Yes, even dishwashing can be elevated to a higher level. 

It's also about being in the moment. Let's say a date night is scheduled. Who's to say that either husband or wife will feel like chatting at that time? Deep "give and take" can't be forced. The best conversations don't surface at the perfect setting, but at the perfect moment (oversized t-shirts instead of Spanx). If one can see that the other half feels like sharing, one should seize that opportunity of making oneself emotionally available.  
So it comes back to perspective. Where should an anniversary be celebrated? At a restaurant, or at home, where the marriage actually takes place?  Put the kids to bed early, maybe don a clean-ish top, and turn off any phones. Nothing says "Happy Anniversary" like leftovers.    
So I don't believe in date nights. I think you should focus on your marriage when you're in the house -- no waiters, no specialty cocktails, no skinny jeans and heels. I believe it has made my marriage stronger. I believe it has kept it secure through ups and downs. I believe it can help you have fun with your partner again. And I firmly believe in saving the cocktails, waiters and skinny jeans for girls' night out instead. 


Mighty Garnel Ironheart said...

When I was single, I used to tell people that I wished the girl I was being set up with would show up without any makeup on. Yes, I know she wanted to make a great first impression (same reason I combed my hair and made sure I had matching socks) but I wanted to see what she really looked like. After all, if things went very well that face would be the first thing I saw every morning.

Princess Lea said...

And she would see your uncombed hair!

No way am I going on a date without face paint (I liiiiiiike my makeup) and since I slather it on Friday evenings, technically it would be the same face he will see on Shabbos morning . . .

Tovah11 said...

haha, good one, PL.

I really think date nights are important even though I don't have kids.

I just think it's good to get out of your everyday environment, clear your head and remember why you married the person you did.

Hard to do when you don't know when or why you're going to be disturbed at home.

Anonymous said...

princess lea, as someone who initially believed the same exact thing, i would like to make an argument in date night's defense.

i am only engaged, not married or a mother, but already the sheer amount of responsibility and the day-to-day grind - both of you working hard or studying hard or both, then having to figure out cleaning and cooking and in our case, a myriad random wedding trivia - can create a sort of 'purely l'maiseh' environment. your conversation time is so limited, and your together time must be so focused, that you can end up mostly talking about how to get done everything you have to get done, whether or not you did it, the problems you had, etc. and before you know it, you start to feel frustrated - what about all the deep conversations you had while you were dating? all the fun you had? where did that go?

date night - or any kind of special thing - is a reminder that all of it is special. and that it is important not to let the nitty-gritty become all-encompassing. and that you have to reach for that extra level - it doesn't always come naturally - of meaning, but it is there, waiting for you, whenever.

Princess Lea said...

Maybe it's because I'm a homebody, but this article really spoke to me.

While of course married couples should go out and have fun, I would say that it isn't in those settings when it is about the marriage.

But I think if someone makes a point to bring it to the forefront, deep conversations can be had anytime, anywhere.

Princess Lea said...

Anon: And congrats on your engagement!

Nechaama said...

Thats funny - I went the other way, anon. I used to be all gung ho about date night - we kept a weekly night reserved to get out for over a year. Now it's been petering... trying to gauge if we need it, but I still believe it's too important to drop entirely. So long as husband leaves his mobile phone at home, that is...

Princess Lea said...

Phones are the biggest problem. Even when not on date night, they should be parked at the door.