Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rob: Dating Rituals Of The Happily Married Suburban Parent

I cannot in good conscience write this post without first admitting that I am perhaps the least romantic man in the world. I don't cuddle. I'm not a hugger and I'm definitely not a candles and flower petals on the bed kind of guy.

Actually, to be absolutely honest, I was never much of a "dater" growing up or even during my early adult years. Sure I had girlfriends, but it always seemed to go from zero to serious in a very short period of time. There really wasn't much in the way of real Hollywood style dating that went on.

Even with my wife, whom I met at work, I think I followed a somewhat similar path. Although, I do have a recollection of an epic early date with Laura involving a very formal gala, me wearing a suit with tails, a seedy dive bar and meeting her parents for the first time very early the following morning, we got serious very quickly.

Perhaps it's my interpretation, but when I think about dating, it involves planning, is a bit formal and requires at least some effort. The ironic thing is while I dated little as a single man, since getting married and subsequently having kids, I now date more than I ever did in the past.

As a dad with three young kids, a full time job, a running habit, not to mention my wife's photography business and all of her interests, it's easy to start to take one another for granted.  As a result, ever since having kids, we've tried to make time at least once a month to have a date night.



Based on my own experience and firm anecdotal evidence, I firmly believe there are common dating rituals within the married suburban parental habitat:

Once untethered, it tends to take about 30-40 minutes and at least one drink to unwind and get over the shock of not having someone tugging at your pant leg, or asking for food or wanting a drink or needing to go to the park or (insert typical child request). 

Once sufficiently relaxed, a fantastic conversation between the married couple follows, where there is actually an opportunity catch up on what's going on in each other's lives without resorting to checking Facebook. 

Please note: While parental dating rituals normally occur in the suburbs, any interaction with other children is strictly frowned upon.  The suburban parent reserves his best dirty look for any family that has the misfortune of being seated within his vicinity at the restaurant. Despite the fact that he was there last week and his kid had an epic meltdown.

Standard suburban date post dinner activities include a combination of: Going to the movies, a trip to the shopping mall or local Costco, or, in rare instances, a meet up with other suburban parents to compare stories and have a few drinks.

Please note: It is 100% guaranteed the yawning will occur at, or shortly after dinner. Yawning will increase at an exponential rate unless counteracted by alcohol consumption.  Consequences include: A mandatory child illness, dog escape or (insert minor crisis) for the hungover suburban parent to resolve within the following 24 hour period.

Six times out of ten, common sense or perhaps parental survival instincts kick in and the date is terminated at a reasonable time to avoid Suburban Karmic Kickback.  Reasonable is defined as late enough that the kids have been bathed and put to bed, but early enough for some lounging in pajamas on the couch.

But yesterday, Laura and I took it to a new level.  We had an appointment at the bank and used this as an opportunity to have an "afternoon date." Our date was a meeting with our financial advisor, then lunch in an empty Pho Fusion place, a wander through a couple of shops and followed by a 4:40pm movie.  We were home before 7:00pm.


You know what? Maybe it wasn't romantic, but I still loved every minute of it. I actually had enough energy to have a conversation with my wife. The restaurant was so quiet I could hear a pin drop and we purposefully picked an R rated movie so the theater was almost empty.

Perhaps we have stumbled onto a new, previously uncharted habitat for the suburban parent? Whether urban, suburban or rural, I'd love to hear more dating rituals for the married parent because I'm starting to think there's a coffee table book in the making here. That, or a Sociology PhD thesis.








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26 comments:

  1. It usually takes a two drink minimum before finding something other than the kids to talk about.

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    1. It's true. I swear we spend more time on our dates talking about the kids than anything else.

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  2. Matt and I don't have children yet. But with 14 years together and an attention seeking dog means our dates follow pretty much exactly this pattern!

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    1. It's true with dogs. We went through the same with our two dogs before we had kids. Thanks for reading.

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  3. Your dates sound like our dates ... productive, yet fun :) Fab post and a great reminder that me and the other half need to get out more.

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    1. Glad you liked it and glad I was perhaps able to give you a nudge to go out for a night or afternoon as the case may be. Thanks for reading.

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  4. ha ha! Me and my hubby need to date more! It's not really easy when I'm sick all the time and we have a child but.... we have had a few dates in the lounge lol. Ours are never really romantic but at least we spend time together and I think thats what counts!

    angela xx

    angela recenty posted I am the Mother Who http://wp.me/p5XRN6-20Q

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    1. You're right, what you do isn't really that important. It's about spending time together. Thanks for reading and I'll check your blog out.

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  5. Costco!! And purleeese sort out the cuddles :)

    Fab post. #anythinggoes

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    1. Can't be helped. I am anti-cuddle. I will say in my defense that when Laura and I got together more than a decade ago, I warned her that I wasn't a cuddler and you know what they say about leopards. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  6. I don't think it has to be all rose petals and scented candles - as long as you are connecting as a couple, but cuddles are a must lol
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes
    Debbie
    www.myrandommusings.blogspot.com

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    1. My pleasure Debbie. I've tried but just can't do the cuddling thing but I'll keep trying and maybe someday, it'll grow on me.

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  7. I'm glad that you make the effort, you and your wife are lucky to have each other. My husband and I have older kids and not normal schedules. We talk a lot everyday, spend most of our time together, the kids are busy. In fact, this weekend we had no kids all weekend, I'm not sure I liked it much.It's the first time since we met that we haven't had kids around us, at least at some time during the 48 hour period. So, kudos to you for making time for you wife, hopefully time will go more slowly for you, this empty nest thing is a bit strange!

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    1. I know what you mean about how strange it is to be alone. I spent a week by myself last winter when Laura and the kids went to Florida and I had to stay home for work. It was very quiet. Thanks for reading.

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  8. Our kids are still quite small and we've not had much in the way of "date nights" for the last few years - but agree that you need to be intentional to make space for it, otherwise everything else crowds in! I enjoy reading your blog #AnythingGoes

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    1. Thanks Luke and it's so true. With our first, we got out lots but it was with her and didn't spend a lot of time just us together. It takes effort but it's worth it.

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  10. The Wolf and I don't get much opportunity for 'dates' right now (living with my parents whilst we're selling and buying house, have two very young children and neither of us drive) so what you describe sounds amazing! My parents are out tonight, though, so I might even just suggest a DVD or board game once the cubs are in bed. Maybe we'll even have wine!

    #AnythingGoes

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    1. That actually sounds really nice. I hope you get the opportunity for a little stay at home date. We did the house sale and move when our first was 6 months old and it was tough. I hope everything goes well for you. Good luck and thanks for reading.

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  11. It hasn't been until the past couple of months...once the baby stopped nursing that we have had actual date nights. They usually are us going to dinner and a movie. However in May we went and rode go-karts and played in an arcade. I think that was the most fun we have had in a long time. It was totally worth being super tired the next day. #bigfatlinky
    Kristen
    http://mustachesandprincessmom.blogspot.com

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    1. Go-karts and an arcade. I love it and good for you two to get creative. It's so easy to fall into the dinner and a movie (which is great when you haven't been out in a long time) but it's also nice to find something different to spend time with your significant other. Thanks for reading.

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  12. My other half and I often use the late night shop without the kids as a date, just so we can fit an hour or so of time alone in somewhere (Yes I am that romantic!), our real "dates" occur about once every 6 months sadly.

    Thanks for linking up to #dadpostoftheweek

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    1. I hear you Ashley. We went through a couple of stretches too but stick with it, it's worth the effort. Thanks for reading.

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  13. Having a newborn its hard to incorporate date night, but once she is down for the night we do watch movies on the sofa or play a video game together which is nice :) #twinklytuesday xx

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    1. It's really tough when they are newborns. We struggled mightily with our first in finding time together but ended up doing lots of similar things. Thanks for reading.

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  14. We rarely have datenight these days — since we had our two little companions! But we DO go to Glastonbury every year *sans kids*!! Which this year was from Wednesday afternoon to the following Monday afternoon!! Not date night but date (almost) week!! ;) I'd forego date 'night' for that each year!! :) Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

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