Who here likes dating?
No, I don't mean going on dates; I mean that period in your life when you have no significant other and you are "dating."
Good, because that's not what I'm talking about.
You wouldn't want to listen to me talk about that anyway except to learn the ways not to do it. It was never my strong suit.
What I am talking about is dating your significant other. That can have it's own special set of challenges. Just by the way in case you haven't figured that out.
My wife and I figured out a long time ago that we needed to set aside time together on a daily basis to keep our relationship strong and stay connected. Probably, as you read this, you're thinking, "Well, of course! Everyone knows that." But, really, how many of you do it?
No, I don't mean that each of you are in the same room together while you both do your own things. No, I am not talking about watching the same TV show together from your separate places while you mindlessly stare. Or even sitting next to each other while you mindlessly stare.
No, I am not even talking about working together on some household DIY project where your attention is on the project and telling your partner how s/he is doing it wrong.
I'm not even talking about going to the movies, because that's usually about as engaging as watching TV together (seriously, guys, ask your women if they consider that a "good" date; I think you're going to be surprised when you get a bunch of "no"s).
What I am talking about is time together when you are actively engaged with your partner.
So, yeah, we do that.
But sometimes even that is not quite enough. Let me explain:
For years, my wife and I have made it a priority to spend time together each evening. Sometimes, that even includes watching a TV show on DVD, but we don't do it mindlessly or ignore each other while we're watching. However, as my daughter has gotten more involved in softball and we spend about eight months of the year with softball practice two to three days a week (mostly on weeknight evenings) plus games and tournaments, our evenings became rather... routine. Which means through 2014 and the first half of 2015, most of what we did was watch a DVD on the nights we were able to do anything because, on softball nights, I generally get in too late for us to have time to do anything significant, including watching a DVD. And, honestly, during softball, I spend a lot of the time just being tired (it's not all because of softball; there's also the part where I get up at 5am everyday).
As I said in the first post, I'm pretty good with routine. My wife? Not so much.
So it was that I realized sometime last spring that my wife was bored with what had become the softball routine. I don't actually think she realized it herself, to tell the truth. In her (paraphrased) words, everything was fine. And that was true. It was "fine." But she was bored with it just being fine. Maybe I was too, although I think it all really had more to do with the fact that everything in our lives had gotten to be where it all revolved around softball.
Those of you who have been reading for a while may have noticed some changes in the blog through the second half of last year in relation to things I was doing, like seeing new bands, or going to roller derby, or taking my wife away for the weekend, or going to the opera. Well, all of that was to shake up our lives a bit, our dating life specifically, and make things more interesting. It was all a big deal.
It was all a big deal, because I did a lot of the planning for this stuff, something my wife has traditionally been responsible for. It changed the dynamic and has allowed us to, together, expand our horizons and be more free to do and try new things.
There was a moment when we were away for that weekend when we were sitting at dinner and discussing, I believe, dessert, but not just dessert, because the conversation involved something about the kids... I suppose it doesn't really matter what. The point is that while we were discussing whether we should do whatever the thing was we were discussing, I looked at my wife and said something about how we were away with no kids and no other responsibilities for that one twenty-four period and finished the statement with, "We can do whatever we want." Whatever we want. It was a big moment. When our schedules are so often run by what our kids are doing and we are putting things that we want to do aside because there is a softball tournament or a choir rehearsal or whatever, it was very freeing to acknowledge, "We can do whatever we want."
I suggest you try it.
Even with being back in softball and everything else right now, that one statement has continued to change our lives.