Date Night - or Day - May Put Some Pizazz into Pandemic-Weary Relationships

Deborah J Fox, MSW

Many of us have all-but-forgotten the freedom to go out to a restaurant without regard to the status of the Covid virus or get together with friends without thinking about whether their comfort level with indoor settings is the same as ours. What about hiring a babysitter? Do you worry about their exposure to Covid?

Even if you’ve relegated Covid concerns to the back burner, you may still be feeling the effects of having had to dramatically alter your lifestyle over the last two plus years. Many of us hunkered down, binged watched shows, ordered take-out, reduced exercise, took on the role of teacher for our kids, and had to figure out to make a bedroom double as an office. All of this didn’t lend itself to a lively vibe in your relationship with your partner.

We are a species who loves variety when it comes to romance. When the pandemic brought us all to an abrupt halt, we went into survival mode and sameness became the norm. Now it’s time to burn those baggy sweats, banish the worn-out pajamas to the back of the drawer and don some more attractive attire in your most flattering colors. Put a spark of aliveness back in your day to day, even when you’re working from home. Making this simple effort sends the message, “I’m back! And ready to connect and have fun with you!”

Just as cars don’t run without gas, relationships don’t thrive without dedicated attention. Quality time together doing something fun and relaxing can put some needed pizazz back into pandemic-weary relationships. Yet again another movie isn’t the answer. It’s time to bring back the date night. Do you cross off date nights as too much work to plan? One of the fallouts from the lockdown is that staying home glued to a screen became just a little too comfortable. You may be one of the many people who now finds it daunting to go out and about as you once did. The tendency to permanently adopt a couch potato way of living is an impulse worth resisting, however. We humans become dull without stimulation - and very poor company.

Do you cross off date nights as too expensive, especially amidst the highest inflation in decades? It’s time to be creative - and date night doesn’t have to be at night. How about a hike in the woods, bringing along a picnic to enjoy along with the setting sun? Or a museum visit followed by a walk to a wine bar before eating at home (avoiding the cost of a dinner out)? Or take a walk or bike ride through a part of town that you haven’t been to in a long time.

Date night can also mean staying at home, but just dressing it up a bit. Being intentional is the important piece. Arrange an earlier bedtime for the kids, find that outfit or dress shirt that’s been decaying in the closet, pop the cork, and eat dinner by candlelight. Do you worry that you have nothing to say to each other after two years of seeing each other way too much? Get one of the many available card games for couples, some that include conversation starters on topics that just don’t occur to you. Some games are designed for a group dinner, so consider inviting friends over for a potluck and pool your resources to hire a babysitter to entertain the kids.

Consider day trips or an occasional overnight out of town. It can take time to unwind and find a new rhythm of being together. Changing gears from a work mode or managing the household isn’t a snap for most people.

What’s most important is to do something different. We need routine to feel secure and we need novelty to make us feel alive. Doing something different, however commonplace the activity itself may seem, can lift up your spirits and put some energy back into your relationship. Think once a week, not once a month – we’re creatures who need frequent recharging.

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Deborah Fox is a couples and sex therapist. She is passionate about supporting relationships and writes on topics that help couples grow and sustain the emotional connection in their relationships.

Washington, DC

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