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Dating in Captivity

I want to start my thought by saying thank you for all the feedback we’ve received over the last few weeks from you. One thing we’re all wondering is, what will everyone do first once it’s deemed safe to venture out and recirculate? I know what’s on the minds of many of you ladies I’ve heard from – the nail salon! Some have said their perfect day would be getting their nails done, a massage, drinks with friends and dinner with their boyfriend.

From the fellas I’ve heard everything from happy hour beers with the guys, to watching their team (or any team!) finally play sports again, to just going back to a regular work day in the office. For those of you who are wondering what Alex and I are planning to do, tune in today at 1 p.m. for our weekly Thursday Thoughts.

For today, I want to talk about dating in captivity. Some of you may be thinking….what..? But I’ve had nearly six weeks of eight to nine hours of sleep per night. I’ve never in my adult life had that long a stretch of good sleep! My creative brain is on overdrive. I don’t want to say that we’re all in this together. That saying is getting old, and that Facebook meme points out that we’re all in different boats anyway. But, if you are quarantined with your significant other and you’ve mentally gotten past the worry about whether you’re going to die this month and what the markets will do, and your spring cleaning is completely done, and your landscaping looks perfect, and you’re pondering taking on the barbecue challenge with your superior cooking skills – well, the next challenge is, what about date night? I know, you’re thinking, c’mon Dave, seriously? Do I really need to think about that right now? My answer is absolutely!

A client recently sent me an article that addressed the idea of ritualistic behaviors and how they’re good for us. Rituals are important because they give meaning to the ordinary. I recently went for a period of time without my children. I was miserable and lost in my own time and I didn’t even realize it. Within a few days of parenting my boys again and having to follow their online school schedule of Zoom sing-a-longs, web-ex classes and Google meets – starting at 8:30 a.m. and going all the way through to 3 p.m. – I realized their schedule was making me treat every moment of my day with more intention. While they were away, I had the whole day for a project. Now, I have 45 minutes until I have to monitor the next login.

Okay, now you’re wondering what kids have to do with date night. If I have to explain that you aren’t doing your date nights right! The point is that our daily rituals of just getting my kids into a routine and getting them into their virtual classes on time adds meaning to my life and my presence on Earth. It’s allowed me to focus less on my own problems. Date nights can do the same thing – focus on strengthening your relationship instead of worrying about the outside world.

If you’ve run out of ideas beyond cooking dinner, opening a bottle of wine and having a deep conversation, I have one for you – have you heard of Date in a Box? I don’t remember where I first heard of this idea – probably a strategically placed Google or Facebook ad. Anyway, I clicked, picked out an option called Thankful For You, and immediately received an email congratulating me on my purchase and informing me that my box might be delayed anywhere from three to 14 days. Thankfully it arrived on day four.

The date came with instructions and activities for setting the mood, including a Spotify playlist created for this date box. It included dinner menu suggestions – aren’t we all looking for new ideas in the kitchen? The box also included talking points for the evening, caramel-drizzled popcorn, sticky notes, and a recyclable pen (so my date night didn’t accidentally kill a sea turtle). While eating our sticky corn, we could use the sticky notes to write down what we’re thankful for, and leave them around the house for the other person to find. The box also included a dry erase board in a nice wooden frame so either person can write notes of gratitude and change the message daily. It even included a word slam game (think Scrabble on steroids) and, if you’re competitive, a reasonable prize for the victor. (This may have happened…)

At the end of the date the instructions allow for reflection on what you’re truly thankful for, and it guides you on future date ideas spurred by your conversations from this date, whether a movie, helping the community or even a rematch for the word slam loser. I was inspired by the hope that there may be future dates – outside of the house!

Now you’re thinking, wow Dave, that sounds like a lot of work! It did take a couple hours and the evening was a nice distraction and change from eating dinner and then deciding whether to read a book or watch TV. We had different conversations, thought deeply about what we’re grateful for, and talked about future plans that don’t involve the living room.

The point is, whatever you do, to think outside the box (see what I did there?) and challenge your relationship, to communicate in new ways, and appreciate the gestures you and your spouse make for each other. And if you’re wondering what was written on the framed dry erase board that night, it said, “I’m grateful that you did the dishes!”

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