Why Raluca State is wrong about date night.

By Scott Westerman

One of my friends sent me this blog post from Raluca State. She belittles the idea of Date Night, saying that maintaining a relationship is a daily thing.

I agree with that last part, the challenge of living with an ever evolving individual is immense. But she’s wrong when she states that “the pressure that comes along with (date night) — the notion that this three-hour, once in a blue moon pause is going to save or strengthen a marriage — is a hard pill for me to swallow.”

Your first mistake, Raluca, is thinking that date night is a once in a blue moon thing. It shouldn’t be. Date night should be a weekly celebration, a few hours you can count on that don’t focus on the career, the kids or the day-to-day. Date night is knowing that at least once a week, you can sit across from one another in a restaurant, any restaurant, look into each other’s eyes and remember why you made the commitment in the first place.

You are right about the fact that maintaining a relationship is hard work. It requires habitual care and feeding. But it’s easy to get caught up in routine. That’s where the magic can start to slip away.

Over 35 years with the love of my life, I’ve learned to never stop doing the things I did to win her in the first place. I send her love notes, text her occasionally during to the day to let her know I’m thinking about her and call her at least once to see how her day is going. We still celebrate the little holidays like big ones; the day we first met and valentines day get the full birthday treatment. And we have our own tradition of sharing cards on these days. Not just one, but one in the morning, one at noon and one at night.

We try never to go to bed mad, Raluca, because two of the best moments of our day are the moment we wake up and greet each other with a tousled morning smile and the welcome ritual of holding one another for a few minutes every night before we drop off to sleep. “Love you no matter what,” is the mantra we always modeled for our kids, too. Sadly, thousands of children grow up without feeling the security of that unconditional comfort.

Life can be an exhausting road. There are too many things out there that diminish our self esteem and suck away our energy. The very accomplishment of finding someone to love and will love you back is too rare an occurrence.The miracle of discovering someone with whom you can share these ups and downs, someone who is committed to loving you, no matter what, is worth celebrating every chance you get.

Date night is a priority with us. We rarely miss one. I schedule my travel around it and everyone at work knows that Wednesday’s a 5PM, I’m outta there.

Our weekly habit of pausing to focus on how lucky we are is therapeutic. It recharges our spirits, reaffirming the love that makes it possible for us both to not just survive, but thrive in an uncertain world that is too often dominated by disappointment and negativity. It’s an affirmation that miracles can happen, if we take the time to find and nurture the soul mates each of us deserve.

Try adding the date night habit with all this in mind, Raluca. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Scott Westerman is “head servant” at the Michigan State University Alumni Association. He and Colleen have been sharing date nights for 35 years.