There is certainly a part of me that feels a bit nervous to tell you that Old Chicago is a frequent date-night spot for me and my husband. I know, it’s nothing fancy. There’s sometimes loud, weird music playing from the modern-day jukebox, and the pizza and beer certainly don’t help our healthy focus. It has been a go-to for us for so long that even on my bachelorette night when we played a silly who knows the bride-to-be best game and the question “what was the couple’s first date?” was asked, many guessed Old Chicago. The servers know us, and us them. That’s how often we go.
But despite the silliness of Old Chicago being a go-to for date night, (and I’m not getting paid to mention them although that would be nice!) it gives my marriage so much of the important elements of a sustainable relationship that I’m not so willing to let it go. Even if it is a bit silly and has no sparkle. But honestly, what keeps a relationship going strong and the connection solid for a love that lasts doesn’t require sparkle. So in the spirit of vulnerability, I’m letting you know my slightly embarrassing date night spot so that I can share with you the elements of a love that lasts and it isn’t all about flash and pizazz.
Going on a weekly date night is a vital piece in feeding into a happy relationship. Or at least a bi-weekly connection time. I know you are a busy gal but when you don’t slow down the go-go-go and carve out time for your relationship then the connection is going to suffer. What’s key in carving out time is that you are establishing a consistent and reliable connection. Your nervous system needs those elements to feel safe and secure in your relationship and so does your partner. Sustainable Love is about consistent, reliable connection and without that your nervous system feels in disconnection limbo land, which makes things feel uneasy and not stable. Especially for women and their responsive desire, this base is essential if any physical fun is going to happen in the relationship.
So, you need a date night and one that is consistent. And just like Old Chicago, it does not need to be anything fancy. No need to get tickets to the new show in town, or visit the snazzy restaurant in town to try out their new chef. Sure, you can totally go to these things on occasion but if we feel that’s the expectation for every date night then the likelihood of committing to that consistent time together is going to last, well, likely only one date-night. And remember, we want a love that lasts. To have the consistency you need to minimize any pressure and expectation for the glam and instead lean on what you can stick to on a consistent basis. The known element of a frequently visited location also allows you to sink into a good conversation rather than be distracted by all the newness of a snazzy place.
My husband and I have had many wonderful and also difficult conversations while at our frequently visited go-to spot for date night. The servers have seen us laugh hysterically, and have also seen us cry in celebration or in frustration. It’s been our home base for many valuable conversations that have been pivotal to the growth in our continued connection. And when we don’t have anything particular to discuss, we like to pull out our “One Question A Day for You & Me” book which gives us some guiding questions to ask each other such as “Three words I would use to describe my partner are” and fun ones like “what kind of wild animal would you be and why?”. We don’t do each question daily but you could! Instead, we like to go through the questions of the past week during our date night.
For you to create ease and security in your relationship you need to have a system in place where there is a reliable time for you and your partner to chat, communicate, enjoy each other's company, and share in an emotional way. Date night is a great way to feed into this essential element. And your date night might not be Old Chicago like ours but pick a place where both of you can communicate with each other and share in emotional vulnerability. Remember, it doesn’t have to be big or fancy. The couch in your own home in front of the fireplace where you can chat over some tea works just as well. As long as it’s intentional the location doesn’t matter. Just keep in mind to not to let fido disrupt your connection time.
Even if quality time isn’t your primary love language, having a consistent date night where you can have meaningful conversations with your partner is pure gold for your relationship. The reason for this is that for most women establishing and maintaining a solid emotional connection with your partner is vital to opening more into the physical and sexual sides of the relationship because you know that relying on spontaneous desire isn’t a good idea. I don’t know about you but when I feel like passing ships with my Husband for too many days in a row without feeding into our emotional connection, the sexual side of me is likely to feel “heck no” to any idea of sexual intimacy.
Even if you have your Hello/Goodbye Ritual established so you are not completely missing the connection boat altogether, this isn’t enough on its own to fill that emotional foundation in your relationship. I urge you to, if you haven’t already, have a chat with your partner to set some time in your calendar for when you can have your date night. I personally like the same night each week so that I can plan for that time and commit to the consistency. This is great too because my friends and family now know when our date night is and they have learned to help us protect that time as well by making sure plans don’t happen on that night.
Perhaps your schedule isn’t as accommodating to the same day or time each week and if this is the case, put your date night on the calendar for the next two months as best you can. It may be Sunday night this week and, because family is in town the following week, you may have your date on Wednesday. The point is a consistent time for you both to connect and communicate and if it’s not on the same day that’s ok. The consistency is in a continued commitment to date night and not necessarily on a consistent day.