A Very Chic Opportunity

July 27, 2011 by  
Filed under current, Relationship Space

Is going out on a date with your long-time partner something you’d only feel safe sharing with a select few people?

I’m not surprised! Considering some people’s reactions, you might as well be declaring that you were a virgin past the age of 21. It seems “dates” are like some quaint, old-fashioned custom that totally confuses some members of our sophisticated modern society.

Do you get that scrunched-up-nose, slitted-eyed, frowning look of horror and disdain from your listeners? Do the words “Good grief (or other more succinct terms) haven’t you two been together long enough to have left THAT behind?” burst out of their mouths?

Or, maybe it’s you who has rolled your eyes at the thought of long-term “Togethereds” going on a DATE!

Recently SweetP and I have introduced a weekly date into our empty-nest.

It’s a common recommendation I make to couples to help them rebuild connections.

However, for no particular reason, it’s not something we’ve ever done ourselves. We’ve been together 37 years this year. (Yes I AM still a very young 43, but that complex algorithm is for another day!)

If you are a regular at Relationship Space, you’d remember that SweetP and I are rebuilding bridges together. Not across a chasm, more like across a stream that threatens to wet our feet! (At 41, oops 43, I’m not keen on wet feet!)  We’d got complacent and focused on other things. Our relationship was suffering, so we wanted to make some changes.

And that’s how I discovered that many people, especially those in relationships, think that “Togethereds” going out on a date is weird!

When my clients rolled their eyes or were a little resistant, I’d always assumed it was part of the presenting problem.  But I’m astounded to find how widely disparaged this is!

Dating is NOT a sign of pathological co-dependence. There are no knotted apron strings involved.

Some people are actually still in conscious love with their partner and choose to nurture it with gourmet ingredients.

And that’s the difference between dating when you’ve been partnered a long time and those euphoric, breath-taking dates of your single days.

On the surface, they look pretty similar.  Dinner out. Going for a drive/picnic. The movies. Breakfast on a sunny sidewalk of a hip café. (OMG, take me there now, as I shiver in my mid-winter drear)

But they differ in purpose.

As I describe in one of my e-books, singles in that Romantic Love phase of their relationship …

… are on their best behaviour, putting their best foot forward, showing their most endearing sides, and the party is a BLAST!
Of course, they’re not intentionally trying to “pull a swifty” over the other. There’s no malice in that unconscious decision to put best foot forward.

(Turning Head-Over-Heels Into A Long-Term Relationship)

In contrast, Togethereds aren’t out to impress a potential lover. No need to pretend perfection, your faults have all been well and truly revealed!

Dating Togethereds want to expand the loving by being authentic and sometimes excruciatingly honest.  Those gourmet ingredients for their relationship are their desire to understand better, to continue to share plans and hopes and dreams and find ways to help each other be the best lover/human/parent/worker they can be.

They are there to deepen intimacy, that “into-me-see” intimacy that I keep banging on about. That’s what makes this feast of time so special. And just getting there has required some sacrifice and hard yakka.

A Togethered’s date is an opportunity.

It’s like a little mini-holiday, away from the usual crockery, the computer/TV, the kids, the comfy chairs. And for it to be successful, it requires some conscious focus on the other.

So who’s going to join me in making dating with your partner the Chic, New, Must-Do of this decade?


8 Responses to “A Very Chic Opportunity”
  1. Love the term ‘togethered’! … and I wholeheartedly agree with you Chris, if I could use a should word, I’d say it should be compulsory!! It’s a brilliant campaign and I’m quite sure you’ll garner a great swathe of cohorts! x

  2. Renee says:

    I LOVE date night and it was the best thing we ever did for our relationship. It’s fun and just a chance to relax and have laugh and remember why you’re together.


  3. Thanks for this great post Chris. For a completely left turn, after being seperated for the past two years, my husband and I are rekindling our romance and becoming man and wife once again. We have both done some soul searching and grown immensely in that two year period and constantly been each others support and remained friends. The natural progression is that we become a partnership again and I intend to implement your date night idea to ensure our relationship stays fresh and vibrant even as we move past the age of 43 (which isnt for at least another 20 years I think lol lol).

  4. You know Chris, I am so curious about people having a negative reaction to date night. In my experience, it’s more a yearning for that connection (usually just a chance to escape the kids and demands).

    I remember reading in the past about having rules for date night (ie conversation cannot be about x, y or z… must include discussion… etc). Do you advise any rules, or is simply being together enough?

    Grant and I have always taken the time to escape for weekends alone together at least twice a year right through our childrearing years. I think it’s one of the secrets of our success. ;)

  5. Basil says:

    As someone who is due to get married in just over 7 weeks, I’m going to take this advice and make it our “togethered” habit! Many thanks x

  6. Chris Owen says:

    Gosh lots of comments.
    Last night should have been our usual date night. But with our son away and our daughter-in-law managing a 2yo and a 6 week older, we had our granddaughter to visit for a sleepover! No time for talking, too busy running around keeping things stimulating, or sleep-inducing!
    And that’s one of the rules we have, we have a set night but it’s not entirely rigid. After all life throws in chaos all the time! But it must happen on another night that week.
    There’s so much to write about this…
    How about I write a post on my blog and come back and put the link here for you to read more?
    Is that OK with you Karen?

  7. My husband or 30 years and I started date nights some time ago when our children were teens. After realising that we really only went out with other couples or as a family, and knowing that “together time” was essential, we started a monthly date night. We took it in turns to arrange a surprise outing. Before a date I know only the time to be ready and what type of clothing to wear – warm and comfortable or formal, etc.

    Anyway, now that the kids have left home we have the luxury of time on our side and have many impromptu dates. And it’s more important than ever for keeping the spark alive, the communication flowing and both of us happy in our “togetheredness”.

  8. Hi Chris, I found your post via my colleague Angela Esnouf. I’m a mental health counselor and I appreciate your insights here. I must say I’ve never heard anyone mock the idea of togethereds having a date (other than their teenage children, but hey, they’re teens). My specialty is not couples or marriage counseling, so I see relationship problems in my clients secondarily if at all, but I’ll be on the lookout for this attitude now. Thanks!–Debbie Stanley, LLPC, NCC, CPO-CD, Thoughts In Order Counseling and Consulting