I’m a planner… maybe to a fault. You see, I like to keep a busy schedule to experience life to the fullest. But, admittedly, also because I’m a “Type A” personality – i.e. ambitious but impatient. My planning often maximizes fun because I diligently hunt for entertaining things to do, yet this can also be a detriment… especially to my marriage.
How? Well, opposites attract, right? My better half, Paul, is a “Type B” personality with a much more relaxed demeanor. He would gladly waste away a Saturday in true couch potato form, whereas I’d prefer to plan an epic adventure far from the confines of our house.
The ABC Blocks
My husband works fulltime and I work a three-fifths schedule, meaning I work more than part-time and, on my days “off,” I’m a stay-at-home mom to our toddler. For the most part, this arrangement works for us; although nothing is perfect and, of course, I get overwhelmed. While wearing my mom hat, I manage the ins-and-outs of our daily lives (like many moms do), such as cooking meals, booking appointments, grocery shopping, cleaning toilets, getting our kid dressed and maintaining the overall household schedule. I do A LOT for our family, but my husband is awesome and does a ton too. He’s really is a super life partner.
Married for 13 years now, Paul and I still “date.” I believe that all couples should date – regardless of if you’ve been married forever – to maintain a happy connection. It seems though that I’m always the one to plan the date night for us. And I’m tired of that expectation! Yes, I already admitted that I’m a bit obsessive about doing things but, sometimes as a busy working mother and wife, I’d love for my man to man up to make date night happen.
Here’s how our date night arrangements typically begin:
Me: We’re overdue for date night. Any ideas?
Paul: Um, I don’t know. Whatever you want to do is fine with me, babe.
His breezy “whatever” response may seem courteous and gentlemanly… but it pivots the pressure on me to muster up plans that we’ll both enjoy. Somehow, he cleverly passes on organizing and adds to my already lengthy to-do list. Maybe Paul assumes that I should plan date night because, among other publications, I contribute to a dating and relationship blog. OK, I get that. However, as with any job, sometimes you want to leave it at the office. For example, chefs may not want to cook dinner every night at home after long days in the restaurant kitchen. So, I’d welcome my husband taking the initiative to make our nights out possible — from start to finish. After all, I’m not the only one who can call the babysitter and make a reservation. Oh, and wouldn’t a surprise date night be the cherry on top! Everyone loves surprises, right? Even Type A peeps like me.
Hmmm, has my aggressive Type A self caused my husband to think his date night attempts won’t please me? Yikes, I could be guilty of that for sure! When we first got together though, he did most of the date night planning. That’s sort of the norm (or at least it was for us 15 years ago in the initial dating phase). He must have been good at it back then because I fell in love with him – fast and hard. Our first date was awesome, and the one after that and the next. I’d love to date him like that again with butterflies and anticipation. If you’re reading this Paul… please ask me out again and I promise I’ll say yes to whatever you want to do. Um, because next time I may be a crazy obsessive planner and take control of everything as I often do… thanks to my Type A tendencies!
“A” for Effort
Here’s my point (yes, finally): Every couple is unique and nothing is one-size-fits-all when it comes to love. Relationships are a partnership with shared responsibilities and roles. Who plans date night will definitely vary per couple, but maybe the logistical load should be shared. If not, the planner may start to resent the expectation to plot and spoil the ultimate goal of date night altogether. I started to feel a pinch of this bitterness and recently voiced my frustration to my beloved. As with any aspect of a relationship, it’s important to communicate wants, needs and expectations. Date night can stay your best night of the week with your better half… it just takes a little creative and collaborative planning!
Nancy DeVault is the managing editor of Date Night Guide and a contributor to publications such as Babble, AmeriDisability Services Magazine and Orlando Magazine. She enjoys outdoor adventures with her husband and toddler.