Family life

Date night drama

Follow one tired mom as she tries to put the sizzle back in her marriage

By Jacqueline Hennessy
Date night drama

My eyes grazed his slim hips, where the Costco underwear his mother gave him peeked out from above his waistband, hailing me like a torrid — yet sensibly priced — flag, until my gaze met his.

“Honey,” I murmured, “you forgot to hang up the face cloth. I think Evie has been using it to wipe her bum.”

His eyes darkened as a lone drop of sweat caressed his chiselled jaw, then swan-dived onto the Diaper Genie he was hoisting out to the trash.

“I thought I smelled something weird when I was washing my face.”

This, my friends, is what happens during the electrifying nanoseconds when my husband and I actually find ourselves in the same room together — and conscious. Life obliges us to time sex with the frequency of a lunar eclipse. We look back fondly at our last night out together — in ’07.

My love life stinks almost as bad as my washcloths. We need a date night. But is the standard movie and pizza or “do it during rinse cycle” scrawl in your daybook enough to stave off the relationship doldrums?

Brain researchers are now telling us that to get date night right, we have to find ways to activate the same brain circuitry that’s ignited by a new love, without involving George Clooney. The key to getting dopamine and norepinephrine flowing to your brain’s pleasure and reward centres is to constantly inject novelty, or something more death-defying, into your relationship (and I’m not talking about my husband switching from “baby fresh” to “mountain meadow” fabric softener).

“Create something new on your dates — that’s what is going to enforce your bond,” says Ottawa sex therapist Sue McGarvie. “Try anything adventurous, from bungee jumping to dance lessons to wilderness hikes.”

I’m all for reclaiming the pre-parent intimacy and identity I once shared as a couple with what’s-his-name, but is it really necessary for us to fling ourselves from a cliff or play Dancing with the Stars? I don’t think I have that much energy. Or spandex.

“One factor shared by great marriages that have made it past 35 years is [partners] scheduling time for themselves as a couple, regardless of how it’s spent,” says McGarvie. “But it is really hard. I realized this after I had kids. I kept thinking of a scene from Norma Rae where she’s ironing, kids are screaming, and she says to her amorous husband, ‘Just hitch up my skirt and get it over with ’cause I’ve got stuff to do.’”

Left to ponder the tender subtleties of skirt hitching — and the fact that my husband still refuses to wear one while he irons — I resolved that our date nights don’t have to break any records for style or originality. They just have to help us exhume the partner buried under the Bounce sheets and overdue notices from the library. I will also never look at my husband the same way while he's doing laundry.

This article was originally published on Apr 05, 2010

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