Believe it or not, we are almost finished with the first month of 2021, and I suspect it does not feel markedly different from 2020. Hopes were high that with a new year comes a new beginning and freedom from the difficulties of pandemic life. With 2020 in the rearview mirror, many hoped, things would be “better” by now.
For many couples, the pandemic has revealed previously unseen or actively avoided issues. Relationships have seen what it looks like when “if only my schedule wasn’t so full” became a reality. In the era of social distancing and reduced crowd sizes, there have never been fewer places to go. And, as the saying goes, you cannot miss someone who never leaves.
Social distancing restrictions have resulted in the default “date night” options being limited or, in the case of movie theaters, entirely gone. If variety is truly the spice of life, then many couples are finding their relationship increasingly bland. Quantity of time does not necessarily equate to quality of time.
Date Night, Any Night
You chose your partner for a reason. There was something unique that drew you toward them initially. Then, the more you spent time and learned about them, you found more reason to stay. Over time, relationships can fall into habit, and date night is often the first appointment dropped when work obligations and children require your attention. Then, there is often a tendency to try and “make up” for lost time by planning a more expensive night out.
Unfortunately, the cost of a meal does not correlate with the quality of a date. There are just as many couples staring at their phones in Michelin Star restaurants as at local diners. Setting matters far less than what is said. Instead of discussing work stresses or kids’ schedules, date night involves learning more about your partner through good questions.
Instead of “How was your day/week?”, try asking “What was your proudest moment this week?”
Instead of “How are you doing?”, try asking “How can I be helpful to you this week?”
Instead of “What do you want to do this weekend?”, try asking “What do you want to be doing 5 years from now?”
None of the first questions are bad or wrong, but they are not sufficient for deep conversation. Shallow questions lead to shallow answers and small-talk quality conversations. The second set of questions are more direct and personal. They will spur the kinds of conversations that draw people together at the beginning of their relationship. Discussions of exciting accomplishments and future dreams are fun. A fun conversation costs nothing and can happen anywhere!
What to Do About Valentine’s Day?
February 14th is fast approaching, and the stores are stocked with the extra flowers, hearts and heart-shaped candies. Engagement season (Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day) is wrapping up, and social media will soon be flooded with posts showing how big partners went this year. For some, hopes are high that their relationship will be taken to the next level. Others may be looking at Valentine’s Day this year as make-or-break date for continuing. Wherever you are this year, remember:
A strong and fulfilling relationship is not determined by 1/365 of the year. It is the result of daily, intentional effort toward building and sustaining your relationship connection.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to spoil your partner because it’s Valentine’s Day, but aside from extra hearts and diamond store commercials, it is really just another night. An equally exciting date is possible any other night of the year, and it is never too late to take steps toward improving your relationship.