Date Night is Great, but Date Day is better. Dr. Steve explores the need for dedicated time to work and play in your relationship.
“There is not enough time!” We live in a world of constant demands from all sides. Not only are there demands for our time but there are incessant demands for us to be better in our lives. To manage time better, to be a better husband, lover, to become better at anything we do. To make more money, and from the advertising world . . . to buy more, bigger, better and faster.
Somewhere in the cacophony of demands I hear my partner’s voice calling to me from far away as if in a tunnel. I hear her voice drifting over the waves of immediate demands of my material world as she tugs on my sleeve and implores me to be present, not only to her needs, but the needs of the relationship and myself.
As I bring myself into the present and examine my priorities, I see that as much as we love and care for each other, an essential ingredient is missing in the recipe for a happy relationship – time.
In my couples therapy practice, when a couple is in trouble I ask when was the last time they had a “date night?”
Invariably it was years ago. Date nights are great. It is time for just the two of you to have time alone and focus exclusively on one another.
However, as in my own marriage, I have discovered that date night, as good as it is, is not enough when both people are busy. And who isn’t busy these days?
Enter the concept of Date Day! Yes, this has been a boon to my sanity and a positive contributor to the health of the relationship. It all started on a dark and stormy night (just kidding, well maybe not). It was emotionally stormy, whatever the weather was outside.
Somehow, our weekends had stopped being free time to play and connect. They had transformed, incrementally, into workdays like any other. My wife and I do a lot of work from home and somehow we had let work take over our lives. And when not working, we were on our computers, writing one more blog post, article, or listening to a teleseminar.
We did make time for “date night” but it was just not enough. Weekend play time had shrunk down to a forty-five minute walk on the beach. Emergency action was needed and we put our heads together. If date night was good, why don’t we just expand that concept? That was when Date Day was conceived (can’t remember if we sealed the deal with love-making or not).
Inception was six weeks ago and we have created a winner. Yes, Date Day is more than I could have hoped for. But, like any newborn, it is not all fun and games.
First let me describe the ground rules. Yes, there are rules. These rules are simple and few, but they are important.
- Pick a day. Doesn’t matter which day of the week, just pick one that allows both of you to eliminate any other commitments.
- Commit to focusing on each other. You are not visiting your parents or friends or anyone else. The day is just for the two of you.
- No work related activity.
- Stay off the computer and do not answer the phone or text.
How the day works:
Now imagine this. When you wake up you do not jump out of bed. No, you wait for the other person to wake up and when they do, you start having a conversation. It can be simple, how did you sleep? Did you dream? About what?
If you are an earlier riser than your partner, you can get the coffee ready or make breakfast. But make sure you have breakfast together and no reading the paper or looking over the news on your computer/tablet/phone.
This is the start of your day together. It is unpredictable what will happen in your early morning conversation. You may feel anxious starting a new routine. You may not be able to relax knowing the lawn has to be cut, the gutters cleaned or that report needs starting. Alas, you have committed to your relationship, so everything else gets dropped for Date Day.
For me, this was a great weight off my shoulders. Because in truth, the world was not going to stop just because I didn’t do all the things I think I should. However, my relationship might, if I didn’t give it the attention it deserved. At best, without focused time, it was going to get worse – guaranteed.
Having literally nothing to do but focus on our relationship, felt like being on a holiday. We do not plan the day, but you could. We have decided that getting out of the city works for us. It reinforces that holiday feeling, we both like being on the road, and there is a sense of excitement as we hit the freeway.
Driving gives us time to talk, as does lying in bed in the morning. Again, we never know what will come up, and sometimes we even bicker. The difference with Date Day fighting is that we have the time and are in a less stressed state, so we are better able to work through the issues that arise. I know this because it happened this weekend. The first five date days were issue free – this one wasn’t.
Having a day to focus and see what arises allows unresolved issues to come into the open where they can be worked on rather than seething beneath the surface and erupting at inopportune times when there is no time to deal with the emergent crisis.
Date Day offers a couple the time to repair and heal rifts that have developed and come to understandings on complex issues that take more than five minutes to resolve. It becomes a time for intimate encounters that grow the relationship.
One day a week, that’s all, and yet it has become a life-saver for us.
Photo: Flickr/Pedro Ribero Simoes/Couple Playing