Thursday, May 29, 2008

TFT: dating

I'm hesitant to tackle this topic this morning, as I have very limited time and I'm afraid that means I might butcher what I'm trying to say. But I wanted to get this out there and won't really have time later today... so take it for what it's worth.

That being said, I should also preface this post by saying that I am in no way criticizing my husband... I'm not complaining, feeling sorry for myself, I'm not mad at him nor am I truly upset by any of this. I'm simply observing outloud and looking for ways to improve one lacking aspect of our relationship. That's not even lacking, per say, but you can always make things better, right?

I want to talk about dating. As in "dating" your husband or your long term significant other. Do you still go on dates? Years down the road? Who takes the initiative? Is it an equal thing, does your spouse plan things and make it a priority? Is that just a girl thing?
Here's where I'm coming from today...
Our anniversary is this coming Saturday. My problem is two-fold (and again, it's not so much a problem as just what I'm letting myself focus on right now). For one, Ryan is wonderful at remembering special occasions... he remembers everyone's birthdays, he would never ever forget our anniversary, and even remembers each year the anniversary of when we met (awww). But remembering is a broad based term in this area. Yes he remembers... days and weeks ahead of time in fact. But he doesn't remember until the last minute, or even after the fact. He just puts it off and puts it off until the very last minute. He'll remember his mom's birthday is coming, and talk about "remembering" it for weeks. But will he get a card sent out ahead of time? Nope. If he's good, it'll be in the mailbox the day of. Now normally, this type of thinking doesn't affect me. I could care less whether he buys my birthday present weeks ahead of time or goes out the night before. I don't live long distance, so it doesn't impact me! LOL! I know he thinks of it, I know he's a great and thoughtful gift buyer... in fact, he usually has exactly what he wants in his head way ahead of time; it's just still sitting in the store until the last minute. I could care less when he does it, the point is- he does it.

So to the example at hand... our anniversary is Saturday. Ryan brought it up like a month ago... we commented on the fact that it was hard to believe May was here already and wow, it's almost our anniversary again, and he asked what we should do, I had no clue, he asked if I wanted him to take care of it and I said sure. He said he would arrange for a babysitter and make plans for us. I was actually excited for once because now we have a couple of babysitters that we love, plus the Swinigans also offered to watch the kids for us (overnight even, if we wanted!) so I knew we had our bases covered.
Now, fast forward three weeks. I get an email cc'd to me yesterday to our friends asking if they would want to take the kids for us either Friday or Saturday evening so we could have our anniversary date... with an "I was just thinking dinner and a movie or something" thrown in there. Ugh.
I found myself picking this apart yesterday, and while I wasn't necessarily mad or irritated about this, I wasn't all that happy either. What happened to planning ahead? What happened to it being a special night rather than what I can take to feel like an obligatory dinner and movie quick date because it's our anniversary and you know, we should probably go out and do something.
It just kind of bummed me out.
And that all got me thinking about expectations and communication and all that good stuff in any given marriage. That I've been sitting here for the past month, fully knowing that Ryan hasn't lined up a babysitter, likely hasn't made any plans ahead of time, but instead of giving him encouraging reminders or subtle hints about fun things we could do, I just sit and let the unfulfilled expectation fester. Why? Why do we do things like that? Why don't I just take the initiative and do it instead of waiting to feel like it's not a priority or something special to him?? And then I can blame it on him.
Does this happen in your house?

The second part of what's been on my mind is this: we just don't date. And I think I'm realizing that is something that might be important to me. Don't get me wrong... I think we spend a good amount of quality time together. Our kids have early bedtimes and the evenings are our time. Most evenings we are doing things together; we often watch movies, we play scrabble (yes, we're old fuddy duddies like that), we even once or twice a month feed the kids early, put them to bed and then have a nice "grown up" dinner together of steak or carry out chinese or something with a side of adult conversation. That's our own "indoor" version of a regular date.
When we lived in Oregon and had three families worth of free babysitters at our beckon call, we got out and did a lot more just us. Now without our families around, a night out without the kids is so rare. And when we do finally do it, we often find ourselves wanting to take advantage of kid free time with other couples. I think we feel we spend enough time just the two of us at home, we love our friends, and often our first thought is who can we include in our activities?

But I think there's something to be said about intentionally going out, just us, getting out of the everyday, out of our monotonous surroundings, and spending time enjoying other things with each other besides our couch.

That's why when I came across this article about having regular 'Life Dinners' together, I was intrigued. I think it's a fabulous idea. I would love to incorporate something like this into our routine of life. Something intentional, something consistent, and like the author stated, something that would be an awesome "monthly touchpoint for our lives".
So here I sit, having read that article a few weeks ago, romanticizing the idea of those regular dinner dates, pretending that my husband has taken the initiative in making me feel special on our anniversary, and letting myself be disappointed in all of it. Gah! Why do I do these things?

Like I said, I have nothing to complain about, so please don't take this the wrong way. I have a fabulous husband, we truly are best friends, we get along, heck- we (gasp) are actually in love with each other. Imagine that! I know that I am blessed to have ended up with Ryan as my husband... he is so good for me in (almost) every way. I think we have a wonderful marriage... I just want to make sure it stays that way for years to come and not get lazy about things we should be more intentional about. So I want to take some steps to do that.

So what are your thoughts? Am I talking crazy here (about the crazy pms reactions to date planning) or does what I'm saying ring a bell with anyone (about the men not taking any initiative in taking over the planning of dates)? How does it work in your house? How is your "dating" life? What do you think about the Life Dinner idea?

8 comments:

AndreAnna said...

I wish I had some great advice but I don't. My husband and I have a wonderful marriage and go on dates when we can. Sitters around here go back to college for most of the year! Soon, with two babies, it's going to be really hard. But we'll try and we'll make it work.

As for planning things, I just think men suck at it.

jessica said...

I too think it's hard to keep dating. John and I are both talkers, but we aren't planners, either of us. This makes it hard to actually make things happen. Every time they have, we've had a great time and said, "We need to do this more often." We just don't seem to make it happen. When our kids got quite a bit older, like 5 and 7, we were actually getting pretty good about dating. Now, once again, we stink. We do get some lunch or dinner dates every once in a while. But even though we don't date like we should, I do think it's important. Not so much that it's a big production, but that it's happening.

And on whether his plans meet your expectations, that is your issue. You were right that you should plan the date if you have expectations. I know we want them to know what we want, but sometimes they don't. Just make it the best dinner and a movie it can be!

annie said...

Asking for a bbsitter four days in advance ISN'T planning ahead?? ;) I say, way to go Ryan! Plus, what is he supposed to say in an email to your friends besides making it sound casual (ie: "dinner or a movie or something"). He doesn't want to come off as a dorky romantic or make his friends' wives mad at them. Last weekend Kevin and I celebrated our anniversary (as you know) and do you know what we did? We ate at Cheesecake Factory and went to Woodburn to shop at the outlets before going home to watch a movie and have dessert and go to bed! He got back the day before from 2 weeks of traveling and we were both exhausted and frankly not on the ball enough to plan anything big. I think it would be "nice" if we'd done something more "special," but we had a great weekend together and spent our anniversary enjoying eachothers company without the kids. Letting Ryan know your expectations in a direct way might help, or planning the dates yourself, or you could just be thankful (as you said and I know you are) that he is a wonderful husband, father, best friend year round and cut him some slack in this area. :) I agree with the first comment - men (usually) are not great planners and I would probably add that the ones who are, probably suck at plenty of other "everyday" things. Happy Anniversary! Love you guys!

Tracy said...

I am SO with you on the part about your anniversary and wanting to be surprised with something special to do and not just the old dinner and a movie!! For our anniversary we went to Vegas...and yes that's something special, but I kept saying how on the day of our anniversary I would really love to do something special and for him to plan it. He agreed and said he would make sure to. Of course he didn't research anything before we went...saying he would figure it out when we got there. So what was my big Vegas surprise?? Dinner. Umm, ok. I was not too excited about that. It obviously didn't involve any planning...I mean it IS Vegas and there are only a million things you can do! So, yep, that was a bummer. Of course I had to come up with something else for us to do. That's how it usually is with him. He "tries", but says he can't come up with something, and I think last year was the only time he planned a babysitter. It's always just dinner and a movie, and while I do enjoy that, something else would be nice every now and again. And he sounds like Ryan with the gift buying...ALWAYS puts it off til the last second and quite a few times it's usually the day of, so I have to sit around waiting for him to go get me something, though he talks about going forever before the event. Ugh...maybe someday it will change ;) Sorry for the novel, but it hit a chord and it's nice to see I'm not the only one who's still waiting to be surprised with something different!

heather said...

Okay, you guys, I'm feeling like some of you are defending Ryan like I'm blaming him... which I don't want to do. I didn't mean that there was anything wrong with 'dinner and a movie', per say. It doesn't matter what we do, it'll just be nice to get out and do something. I can't remember the last time we went and saw a movie just us and that would be fun.
I'm just saying that talking about it weeks ahead of time and saying "I'll plan something" kind of to me, implicated putting a little more thought into something enjoyable for us to do besides the last minute fall back idea that 'dinner and a movie' seems. Does that make sense? I'm fine with dinner and a movie. I like dinner and a movie. Heck, I like just walking around the mall without the kids! I just let myself think that planning ahead meant something different.
Which was part of my point of the post... how I sometimes tend to dwell on my unvoiced expectations and that it's not fair for me to do that so I need to grow up and cut it out and/or just plan things myself.
I'm not ragging on my husband or an assumed inability on his part to plan such things... I simply meant to be observing outloud and pointing out to myself my own part in it. And also wanting to see if others relate and to hear other's perspectives and stories, ideas and advice.
That's what TFT's are all about...

CassJustCurious said...

I starred this to read when I wasn't really pissed off at my husband. But I figured I should comment TODAY so that wasn't going to happen.

The FH doesn't plan. He is not capable of making reservations, thinking of a special evening, executing on a single thing. He will go along for the ride and complain minimally....but that's the best I get.

I joke about finding a boyfriend to date. He always says he's "planning" something - I think it's pretty safe to say that after 3 years he's got one big freaking evening in planning.

Luckily I loved him enough to pick him and overlook this huge flaw of his.

beejo said...

Tom doesn't plan. I think he's almost incapable of thinking more than a day ahead. And also, he hates surprises, sooo he assumes that I do too. He can't ever surprise me with anything... if he gets me a present he ends up telling me what it is (which isn't the point of this post, but it just ties in with the whole idea that if he WERE to plan something, he wouldn't be able to surprise me with it - he'd have to ask for my input/approval - which is FINE, but every once in awhile a girl just wants to be taken care of). Seriously, about the only time he's actually planned anything was when he proposed.

Now - part of this is probably my doing because I am a HUGE planner. So most of the time I just take over, start bugging him about what we're doing this weekend on Monday, etc. Maybe if I just relaxed a bit more, he'd take some initiative. But I'm just going to guess that HE WOULDN'T.

As far as actually "dating"? Yes, we try. Ideally we'd probably get out on our own once a week. Up until Max was born, we had a weekly date night. And I would say we still do a pretty good job of it, and honestly it's not really Max that holds us back all the time, it's other things we have going on. But, I think it's really important to us to carve out that time together, preferably out of the house because at home there's always dishes and laundry and TV. You know?


And I don't think you have to explain or defend yourself, Heather - I know exactly what you mean. You can be 100% in love with and appreciate your husband while still wishing for a little bit of... romance? no, FORETHOUGHT? every once in awhile (funny that I equate romance with forethought :). And planning in general, I think, ends up being the woman's domain more often than not. I am almost always the one that schedules Max's doctor appt, sends back the RSVP card, buys the gifts, makes the reservations. And sometimes, it's just TIRING. That's all.

But. I've done the flylady.net thing before and one thing she always says about keeping your house clean has stuck with me - don't be a martyr. When you wash and put away a huge pile of dishes and your husband comes by and leaves his sitting in the sink, or when you clean off the table and he drops a bunch of stuff there, don't get crabby about it. Whatever work you are doing is for the good of everyone in your home. And eventually, he'll start to pick up on that... see that you are working hard, that you're trying and that it's not anything you're upset at him about... just something you believe in doing... and he'll be more likely to chip in than he would if you had just nagged him to put his crap away. Think of it like you're setting an example. And I think the same thing holds true for romance. You can plan dates, surprise him with gifts, etc... be an example... and if you're not a martyr about the unfulfilled expectations you have about what HE should be doing... eventually, maybe he'll surprise you. I need to work on that. :)

Just my $.02... or $2.00!? :)

anne said...

Some of what you have going on sounds eerily similar to my situation. I'm pretty sure all (ok, most) men have an innate inability to PLAN ahead. As you described in your post, my husband also always has good intentions to 'plan' for a special dinner or evening out to celebrate an anniversary or my birthday. And usually what ends up happening is that the day before the event rolls around, and he hasn't thought of where to go, made a reservation, etc.

As far as "dating", we don't really do a date night, but I have to say I think we are pretty good about getting out of the house, getting a babysitter, and doing something "adult." Typically this happens because we have plans to attend a party, or have dinner plans with another couple or something. Which of course is always fun, but sometimes it's nice to do something with just your spouse.

A few people mentioned being surprised and having romance in a relationship...I would LOVE it if my husband surprised me more often (okay, if he surprised me EVER). I would even get excited if he left me an unexpected post-it note with a little message on it somewhere! Just yesterday I got really excited because the mailman delivered a small package, and I couldn't for the life of me think of anything I had ordered. For a split second I thought "maybe Pat bought me something as a surprise and had it delivered!" Much to my chagrin, it was only my contact lens order:) Kim said maybe leading by example works...but I'm not sure that my lovely husband would take any such hints- like that he should reciprocate if I were to occasionally give him a card or buy him a little present. He's not one to take many hints, even blatant ones.

Like you, I can't complain though. He's a great guy, husband, and dad. And I guess if I want a dinner out, weekend getaway with him, or a present, I'll have to dial the phone myself, plan the trip myself, and buy myself some presents:)

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