My wife and I have a problem. We are dating impaired. I'm not even certain that we ever really knew how to date before we got married, and I think our dating skills have been deteriorating faster than the half-life of polonium-214. You should not interpret this to mean that my wife and I do not know how to connect. Oh, no. In fact, I believe my wife and I have an extraordinarily stable and supportive relationship. Indeed, our favorite past-time is just being together and we are greatly blessed to not only be a married couple, but to be best friends, too.
Our problem is that we simply don't know how to date. On the rare occasions we do decide to pay for a babysitter, we usually end up going to either a church function or to the temple. These are certainly worthwhile endeavors, but it means we don't usually have the opportunity to simply be alone, together, in a "courting" environment. When we don't do either of these things, it is often because we have identified the one of perhaps two movies that we actually are willing to spend money on to see in the theater in that given year. Going to movies certainly counts as a "dating" experience, but one can't honestly say that it is one where real "courting" actually happens, as few words are exchanged. Even worse, sometimes our "dates" consist of shopping or running other errands.
These kinds of "dates" are pretty much all we have been doing for a very long time. We do have the occasional exception, but they are few and far between.
The odd part about this whole thing is that it began so innocently. We met, dated, courted, and married in 5 months while we were college students. During this process, we were both buried in school work up to our chins and had no money.
Our dating ritual at that time pretty much consisted of spending nearly every waking, non-class time together doing whatever we each had to do. This included her coming to where I worked as a consultant in a computer lab and spending time with me there. She would even stay with me and fall asleep on a nearby spot of carpet when I was up particularly late working on a project. Oftentimes, we would spend our evenings studying next to each other (our courses of study were very different).
On rare occasions, we would go to the dollar movie to see some lame movie, or rent a video to watch. I don't recall if we went to any dances aside from the homecoming dance, though I'm sure we must have. Even so, our dating experiences were pretty thin on the ground, and not varied. We were busy, we were very broke, but we were happy. It was a good time.
Naturally, after we got married, we got down to the business of becoming adults. We finished school (still broke), and ultimately moved to California where we started our family and began saving for a house. We learned to be frugal and when kids came along, going on a date became an even more expensive outing ($20 for a movie, $15 to $30 for dinner, at least $20 for a babysitter ... it adds up!). To this day, though our finances are somewhat better, we still have a hard time spending that kind of cash to go to a movie that we could simply wait six months to get from the Redbox (love it).
Thus, our dating impairment has several root causes, in order: 1) we are frugal, 2) we are very busy with family and church life, and 3) we are uncreative.
Much to our surprise, however, my wife and I did actually go on a real, honest-to-goodness date last weekend. (Never mind that we had to schedule it a month in advance ... see cause #2) We got a babysitter, took a coupon (to alleviate cause #1) to the nearby Marie Callendar's restaurant, and then went to a place called "Fin's Glow Zone" (which addressed cause #3). It's a silly place with indoor miniature golf that is decorated with an underwater theme, prominently lit by black lights.
We had a great time. Truth be told, I enjoy being with my wife doing pretty much anything, which explains why we sometimes just go shopping together. (Can you believe we pay a babysitter to watch the kids just so we can go shopping?! Lame, I know, but it sometimes works for us.)
There, though, we acted silly and enjoyed the experience. The place was empty (on a Friday night? we don't expect the establishment to stay open too long ...), so we were not self-conscious about being dorky (not really a stretch for us ...). The golf wasn't all that spectacular, but it was a fun environment and we had a great time taking silly pictures. I lost (honestly) to my wife, which always makes her happy, which makes me happy. She taught me a few tricks about how to hold a golf club, and, truly, they helped. The whole being silly thing was really weird for me; I'm not really sure when I became a grown-up, but the experience felt a little awkward for me because my kids weren't around to be my excuse for being goofy.
So, some evidence. I had my cellphone with me, so I tried to take some pictures. They're nearly all fuzzy, but what can you do? Here's a picture of my wife being silly with a treasure chest behind her.
Here's one of her trying to look all sober and pirate-y with a pirate helping her steer the ship.
And here's one with me getting eaten by a shark.
And here's one with me standing beside Triton with my mermaid groupie behind me. (We didn't realize she was there when my wife took the picture.)
Anyway, it was a good time, but I definitely think that she and I need to do stuff like this more often because we are clearly out of the habit. We'll happily take suggestions ... got any?
"Hello. My name is Roy and I am dating impaired ..."
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