Valentine Centrepiece

Two months ago, Mark and I planned a date night. I looked up movie listings, and he asked his brother to babysit. After a busy Saturday morning, all three of us lay down for an afternoon nap.

Somehow, between lunch and date night, my husband’s back failed him. Something about the act of napping sent his spine into painful spasms, and when my brother-in-law arrived to take Annalyn to his house for the evening, he found Mark collapsed on the couch and me searching the Internet for urgent care hours.

We spent the evening child-free but not holding hands and catching up. We spent the evening in the emergency room and the pharmacy and, finally, on the couch with heavy duty painkillers and lukewarm takeout.

Later that month, we went to Pennsylvania for a family vacation. After days of creating memories and building stories we’ll retell many times in the years to come, we snuggled together, whispering so we wouldn’t wake up an exhausted four-year-old conked out on the couch. As we talked and laughed, Mark reached over to hug me, only to hear this lovely response: “Stop. It. Every time you touch me, I start itching again!”

Back pain and poison ivy, 2. Date night, 0.

After we got home from vacation, I told Mark to ask his brother to babysit again. We were going to have a date night if it killed us. (Or, you know, wrenched our backs or covered our faces with an allergic rash.)

Several days before we were scheduled for our big night out, Mark said, “Hey, did you know Guns ‘N’ Roses is going to be in concert this weekend?” I know my husband and his love for GNR, and I realized that the concert date in question was also our scheduled date night. So I immediately said, “Yeah, right.”

And that was that.

Until I got an email from Groupon offering tickets to that very concert for a teeny tiny amount of money. Great seats. My husband’s favorite band. And since I had some Groupon bucks saved up, it would literally cost us $1.

Of course I bought the tickets. And proceeded to spend the day patting myself on the back and generally acknowledging that I am the best wife EVER.

As soon as Mark woke up that afternoon (he works nights and sleeps days), I told him the news. And he was . . . not ecstatic. He said a few things that evening, but “You’re the most incredible wife EVER!” was not one of them.

I’ll spare you the debate – complete with pouting, bulging eyes, apologies and explanations, but the final decision was that we would not use the tickets I bought.

Mark was not a jerk, nor was he ungrateful. But that didn’t mean I was a happy camper when our date night rolled around. I believe my exact [gracious, loving] words were, “I don’t know what we should do. I came up with a plan, and you didn’t like it!”

(Have I mentioned that I didn’t really want to go to a Guns ‘N’ Roses concert? And that his reasons for not jumping on the concert bandwagon were completely legitimate? But I was still totally irritated? Right.)

We’ve learned our lesson about wasting date nights over stupid arguments, thanks to an evening several months ago spent fighting over my ability to park the car and his ability to quit telling me how to drive. So as we began this evening, we gritted our teeth, pasted on smiles and chose our words carefully. We worked hard to salvage the night, dropping Annalyn off with my brother-in-law and driving to a steakhouse that was a favorite during our dating days.

Of course, our dating days took place more than a decade ago. Looking back, it’s unsurprising that the food and atmosphere wasn’t nearly as great as we remembered, but we tried hard not to complain and to chat nicely during our [mediocre] dinner.

Then it was on to the movie theater, where we fairly quickly agreed on a movie (largely because Mark knew better than to suggest the baseball movie that, despite its great reviews, is not really on my must-see list). While we waited for the movie to start, we actually had a few minutes of honest connection and conversation. The movie, however, was great but a real downer. And on top of the somber mood it left us in, I had a raging headache by the time we reached the parking lot.

A downer of a movie! A headache! A bad steak dinner!

Why is it so hard to have a simple date night with my husband?!?

Both of our birthdays are next month, so we have a standing arrangement with my parents. They take Annalyn and do fun grandparent Christmas stuff with her, while we have time to finish shopping and go on our birthday date. I’m wondering what will pop up just in time for that date. After all, it will be December, so the options are many. Blizzard? Fights about money? Bronchitis?

No matter what the next hurdle is, we’ll keep pursuing date nights and time together. Even if no outing is ever perfect. Or (as in the case of the ER, the poison ivy and the undercurrent of a fight over a rock concert) not in the slightest bit romantic.

After all, isn’t that the point of marriage? The never-ending pursuit?

*sigh* Something like that. Talk about giving up on a perfect date night! But darned if I am not dying for a real, fun night out with my husband!

Do you make date nights a priority with your husband? How do you make time? And, please, tell me I’m not the only one who’s had a date night ruined by something ridiculous?!

What should you watch next?


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