One of the best things about a career as a teacher: the breaks!
During the school year, routine is crucial for sanity maintenance. If you’re an introvert, like me, the weekends are for recharging your battery (hermiting). Sometimes, wining and dining my husband (or vice versa) falls to the wayside. We try to go on a few date nights per month, so we aren’t completely lacking romance and adventure, but it’s our routine reality, and that’s okay.
Consequently, I love all of these breaks because we have the time and energy to go on day trip adventures and spend quality time together. I’ve mentioned before that we already work together. We live together, drive to work together, eat lunch together, occasionally chat in the hallway, rinse, and repeat. That’s not for everyone, but it’s us, and it is all we have ever known. We have worked together since college, where we met at work. It’s a unique blessing to understand all facets of each other’s lives. We know the same people, have the same work environment, coworkers, and experience. It makes it easier to talk to one another at the end of the day. However, it’s still different to explore together and have quality time.
No matter your situation, whether you’re always together or apart, it’s necessary to date your spouse. There are key ingredients to the perfect date:
Dating doesn’t always have to be expensive. One of our favorite day date activities costs under $20. We drive to our college town, where there is a lush, green duck pond with a Subway across the street. We split a foot long sub at the duck pond, chat, and watch the neighborhood squirrels, chickens, ducks, turtles. After some time in nature, we head over to the small town movie theatre, where a matinee only costs $3. It feels lovely and reminiscent to move from the hot, humid outdoors to the cool, dark theatre, sipping on an ice-cold beverage. The whole experience transports us back to the time and place we fell in love. The duck pond has been a quick escape for us in life. We would (pretend) to enjoy running and meet up for early morning runs past it, and, once we were past the pretense, we would, instead, leisurely stroll to it from our town-home. The duck pond is right across the street from our college campus, so sometimes we make time for a walk through campus, stopping at our old work to see some familiar faces. Taking time to reflect on the past and how far we have come is always nostalgic and makes for a classic date. Bringing the past into the present is a great way to reignite a spark.
Sometimes, spontaneous adventure is the spice you need for a splendid date. Abandoning routine for impulsivity and freedom is essential for those typically chained to the clock. There are many ways to be spontaneous. Last Spring Break, we had the ideal impulsive date. We casually drove to the beach; made the impromptu decision to get a hotel and order champagne; drained the champagne; stumbled around on the beach; then ordered pizza in lieu of the fancy dinner we had intended. Figuring things out as we went along led to a kismet experience I’ll always cherish. It’s also something we won’t always be able to do. It’s easier to make sure dogs and cats are cared for on a whim, but not children. Of course, spontaneity is on a spectrum. (One day, we will spontaneously drive to Disney World.)
Sometimes, we think we know it all, have seen it all, have experienced it all. It doesn’t take much time out of your comfort zone to realize there is much to be explored where you live; you don’t need to travel to explore. We went on a date to the aquarium near us and found ourselves with extra time until happy hour at the restaurant. My husband suggested we go explore our city for an hour or so, and I thought it was a great idea. We have both lived in these suburbs our whole lives and never walked through the big city. How is that possible? The aquarium is located in the museum district, so we wandered around, admiring the architecture, ambled through some parks, and realized how much larger our small world really is at the end of the day. When we returned to the aquarium, I ordered a martini in honor of my new-found downtown girl attitude (although my post-sip expression revealed my small town sensibilities).
Sometimes, you have to embrace your inner-child with your spouse and throwback to times before responsibility entirely. Each year, my husband and I have a tradition where we build a pillow fort, drink champagne, and play video games. We watch my favorite movie (Jurassic Park) while we build it, then we regress to a childlike state and bask in pillowfort glory. This year, the pillowfort weather was fortuitous, with a groundshaking thunderstorm creating the ambience. We turned down the lights, and the lightening became our nightlight. I take a break from my obsession with cleanliness and order and indulge in careless, whimsical wonder. It’s the perfect date night at home. Just buy the cheap bottle of champagne at the store, and you’re good to go. I wear my Disney moo moo or a ratty t-shirt, and we play video games and have fun together.
When opportunity knocks, it’s important to answer. Freedom, time together, feeds our marriage, so we aren’t merely orbiting around one another, but constantly colliding. A date can be nostalgic, spontaneous, full of exploration, or simple – watching a movie on your couch in your pajamas. What is important is quality over quantity. It’s not the amount of time that you spend with your spouse that is important; it is the attention you pay to them and the love and friendship you have in each other whilst in their company.