Date Night's Bad Rap...

Cheesy though it sounds, "date night" is really quite a necessity for most people I know (whether that means they put it into weekly action or not is another story altogether). It should be patently clear when you need one: when your communication consists solely of bathtime duties, bills, chores, etc., when you realize that your are only speaking to each other using tones of exasperation, or when you find yourself slipping and calling each other "Mommy" or "Daddy"! Make a date, reserve a sitter, and when you shut the door on your way out, you morph from Father and Mother to Husband and Wife - and it feels great!!

Truth be told, I always found the "date night" concept a bit old fashioned... It just sounds so obligatory to me that it takes all the fun out of it! For most of us the term conjures up images of couples romancing in a fancy restaurant, going to a broadway show, movie, and a bar for some drinks - which are all things I'd love to do - but I am bound to stop loving those things if we did them every week...

When we were first married, somehow we wound up going out together more (sometimes much more) than once a week. Between events, dinners, weddings, thursday night (12am) movie screenings, vacations, and our actual dates - we spent countless hours alone together (as a young couple should!). A few years later, with a tot in toe - things don't look all that much the same. Raised expenses, a stooped economy, add in the cost of a babysitter (if the in-laws are unavailable), and the fact that the date can't start until after 7pm (bedtime) -  kind of inhibits our interest in dropping over $100 on a "night out" these days...!

We realized we had to up the ante - while downsizing the financial aspect, so that neither of us could feel guilty about it, or come up with creative excuses to avoid the costs. One thing was certain; we were not ready to give it up.

Here's some of our favorite, simple, newfound ideas for enjoyable, stress free weekly nights out together:

- Pick up some Coffee Bean (if you're not a Starbucks fan) and head to Barnes & Noble for some stress-busting, relaxing time together. We find two big comfy armchairs next to each other, and load up on magazines, design books etc. to soak in together (or alone, next to each other).

- Hit the pavement! We throw our rollerblades into the car and drive down to the shore. It's amazing how young and free you can feel cruising the boardwalk after hours hand in hand with your lover!

- Once in a while, when a really good film is calling (such as Avatar!!), we Fandango some tickets, pick up some sushi to stash in my bag and sneak it into the movies.

- When you are craving that romance-in-the-candlelit-restaurant evening, get the dating ambiance while skipping the large tab. We head to the nicer joints just to enjoy some desserts and a bottle of wine.

- I stay updated on all the local happenings with, when something peaks my interest (museum specialty night tours, artisans party-marketing their wares, idie rock band tours, hotel parties, foreign film festivals etc.)  we make a point to check it out, and usually (note: usually) enjoy ourselves!

- If sports is your thing, experience the fun in burning some calories together. Sometimes we get into workout gear, head to a lit up park for some basketball, or hit the gym as a couple for some late-night one-on-one.

- Most public beaches don't close, and we take advantage of this glorious state every so often, making our way down to where the surf meets the sand with a big picnic blanket, a pizza, and some beers. Life simply doesn't get any more blissful than that.

Though, for more special occasions (or when the culture is really calling), we do (once in a while) still frequent the broadways, the fancy dinners, the high-rolling clubs etc  - but now we really savor and enjoy it!

The bottom line is, "date night" is what you make of it - there really are no rules. Done right, it can be a wonderful stress-free, sanity-saving, young-lovers night out. Just make sure you do it! : )

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