Reading today’s blog will save you some money. If you and your spouse go to a weekend marriage seminar that seminar will be structured in such a way as to have some kind of a “date night”. This will not be your average date night however; it will be at a nice restaurant and you will dress nicely but there will be “instructions” which be to discuss matters of the heart. These discussions will be related to the material in the seminar. Probably not what you did on your last date together! Sometimes the couples who go out on these “dates” end up having arguments, but the hope is that the public setting and the muted atmosphere will keep these fights to a minimum. In general, the need for a nice date is important for a couple. Even more important is the need to talk – really talk about all kinds of things. Not just relationship issues, but budget matters, how the kids are doing and what’s on the calendar. Really, those topics and touchy topics like parenting, money or even sex are NOT good to talk about on a date. The dates that I enjoy with my wife are usually light and breezy and FUN. Couples need fun. Yet, your wife needs to talk and you NEED to hear what she has to say. So, date nights often have cross-purposes. When a couple goes out dressed up for dinner, they can look really nice. The kids may be quite impressed at how attractive mom is when she not in that faded tee shirt, but if that couple has different expectations of what that dinner is about then it will not be a pretty sight when they return.
Speaking of expectations, this is a crucial issue. The wife may expect intimate conversation about matters of the heart, while the husband wants to keep it light with hope that they may be able to have some fun in the bedroom later. It’s a disaster! The funny thing is that both the husband and wife are right to have their expectations. Both good times and deep conversations are important to having a successful marriage. It was Robert G. Barnes in his excellent book, Rock Solid Marriage, that astutely observed that women often view conversation as a pre-cursor to sexual intimacy, and it was Pat Love in her excellent book, How to Change your Marriage Without Saying a Word, who astutely observed that men view touch and physical proximately as a pre-cursor to sexual intimacy. You see where this is going. You need both in a marriage.
So save yourself the money from expensive therapy and weekend seminars and do TWO THINGS: Have a weekly morning coffee time to discuss anything that your wife would like to discuss. Do NOT get defensive about what she has to say and do not feel that you have fix every problem she brings up. She needs to talk and you need to listen. Start there. Second, take your wife on a date and sit close. Go dancing or just have fun and make contact with each other. Hold hands.
For a couple of years now, my wife and I have been going out to a nice coffee shop on Thursday morning and having good conversations. We sometimes bring a list of stuff we need to talk about. Sometimes the talk is serious and many times it is simply mundane. We have so much fun, really, so much fun that date nights are less important. Coffee meetings cost about 10 bucks. You do the math. Consider the cost of the alternative.