Cathy and I ran into some serious trouble in our marriage about ten years ago. At the time, we were the exhausted, distracted, over-scheduled parents of a nine year old and a two year old. We had our fast-paced and demanding jobs, a host of clubs, committees and Little League commitments and a million other things that somehow, over the course of time, took precedence over our relationship as a couple.
The Beginning of a Marriage in Trouble
Once we were past the crisis and had survived it, we were able to look back and see that the gradual replacement of couple time with time spent on everything else was the beginning of the trouble. We were in the rebuilding and recovery phase before we started doing something about that, but knowing what to do and putting that knowledge into action are two different things.
We had cut back on our obligations at work, making clear that career advancement was being put on hold so that we could have more life balance. We also opted out of a lot of social and community obligations and put limits on how many things Michael could be involved in at once. However, we still found it very difficult to find time to get any romantic time alone. We persisted in trying to steal away for a weekend in the country or an evening of dinner and dancing, but the opportunities to do these things were too far and few between to do any real good. The difficulty of making the arrangements also put way too much pressure on the date or weekend to be perfect-another recipe for failure.
That was when we accidentally hit on The 1 Hour Date.
We hadn’t had an evening out in several weeks, despite several tries. But one afternoon, we found ourselves with an hour to kill before picking the kids up from their grandparents. We decided to stop in at the Starbucks nearby and we accidentally had a wonderful date.
We laughed, we talked, we drank some much-needed coffee and when we left, Cathy remarked on what an unexpectedly great time we’d had. Simultaneously, we both realized that it was because there was no pressure, no expectations. We didn’t have to kill ourselves arranging child care, dressing up, making reservations or leaving work on time. It wasn’t A Big Date, so there was no Big Pressure to Be Romantic. The result? Well, we had some awfully romantic time as soon as we got the kids into bed.
Unexpected Romance While You Wait
After that afternoon, we put big date nights on the back burner and grabbed 1 Hour Dates as often as we could. We met in the park between our offices for a picnic lunch. We met for a drink in a nearby hotel bar. We bowled two quick games while Grandma took the kids for their dental cleanings. All of theses 1 Hour Dates were fun, most led to wonderful intimate encounter during or later and there was another benefit-they took the pressure off of our big dates. They didn’t have to be perfect, they didn’t have to be unique or extravagant. Which was good, because it was a few more years before they were even remotely frequent.
The upshot of this is that you need time alone as a couple, whether you’re going through a tough time or a good one. Don’t skip it altogether because you can’t make a big deal of it. If you do, The Big Date may come too late.