A few weeks ago, my husband and I had what many would consider an ideal date weekend. And it was, indeed, a lot of fun.
We left the kids with my parents on Thursday and headed out of state for a conference. The conference ended Friday afternoon, so we started the first leg of our trip home, stopping halfway for the night. We could have made it all the way to my parents’ that night. But we chose not to. We chose to enjoy some extra time together.
Friday night we ate supper in our hotel room and enjoyed a nice, quiet evening.
Saturday we took our time getting up and going. We wanted to time our traveling perfectly to enjoy lunch at PF Changs, our standard “no-kids” destination, before reuniting the family.
Yes, it was a lovely weekend.
Even so, the next weekend I felt as if I’d missed date night for a couple of weeks. I was so ready for our typical Friday night at-home date time.
I laughed as I contemplated this sentiment. You see, our first at-home date was chosen because we had no other option. At the time, we thought dates meant finding babysitters and getting out of the house. But that did not happen very often, thanks to lack of budget and babysitters. Despite the marital advice to date frequently, there were years when our anniversary celebration was the only date we enjoyed.
Until our eighth anniversary.
That year we had no child care. We had no options. So, we picked up take-out and prayed that our children would cooperate. And God answered.
If you have read my blog for any length of time, you probably have seen our date night story. (You can read it here.) I have shared why date night has become so important and why I recommend it to every couple.
But I see now that there is even more to the story.
You see, this idea that a “real” date involves leaving the children and going out has remained prominent in my mind. Our weekly at-home date is simply what we do in the in-between times while we wait for the chance to get away.
But, last month it dawned on me that even when we have our getaway opportunities, we still crave that at-home date night. Even if we have the chance on a Tuesday to be away somewhere, we still want to stop and be together at home on Friday night. We have come to crave that time of putting aside work and obligations and interactions with everyone but each other. We find rest in those few hours.
That realization was very unexpected.
Handling the Unexpected
Marriage is like that. It introduces the unexpected. We discover things about ourselves, our spouses, and our lives that we never would have known otherwise.
So, how do we handle the unexpected?
We have two choices when the unexpected washes over us.
- We can respond in disbelief, assuming that this new discovery cannot possibly be accurate because it’s not the standard answer.
- We can embrace is, allowing it to open our minds and train us to think outside the box regarding our marriages and our lives.
Date night is such a little thing. But nearly seven and a half years ago, we allowed ourselves to think outside the box by being willing to try to date one another at home. That one decision opened the door to many realizations about ourselves. It allowed us to think outside the box in bigger situations. And, it encouraged us to embrace the unexpected.