Thursday, February 9, 2012

Date Night - "Thrivalist" style

For years I've listened to other parents talk about their date nights with what might be considered a twinge of envy, but at the same time with the realization that Deus Ex Machina and I have never really participated in that cultural practice of date night for the married-with-children sect. Really, we've never felt the need to.

In fact, when we were "dating", we didn't "date" in the sense that we'd get dressed up and go out on the town, just the two of us, for a champagne dinner and a show. In fact, in those days, when we did go out, it was usually with a group of friends. When it was just the two of us, our usual date entailed walking (hand-in-hand) to the PX (eight miles - round trip) to get roast chicken and rent a VHS movie, and then, heading back to the barracks for our modified version of dinner and a movie. Eight miles is a long time to learn what a person is all about, and I'd wager that, by the time Deus Ex Machina and I decided to get married, we'd learned more about each other in those eight-mile walks than most people learn in all of the dinners of a life-time.

Deus Ex Machina has never been a flowers and champagne kind of guy, which has always been okay with me, because I'm not the kind of gal who enjoys empty displays or gradiose gestures which are usually more an attempt to butter me up in the hopes of some ROI (Return on Investment) than any real desire to make me feel special. With Deus Ex Machina there never seemed to be that underlying message of I-scratch-your-back-you-scratch-mine.

Deus Ex Machina has always been who he is - nothing more and nothing less, but always completely real.

All of that said, if there's one thing I've learned in my life it's not to get too comfortable with my strong opinions, because at some point that opinion will be challenged - such is my assertion that Deus Ex Machina and I don't have date night.

If the purpose of date night is for parents to spend time together - away from the responsibility of being parents - and take an opportunity to renew their couple-hood, then Deus Ex Machina and I have date nights all of the time. It's just that, unlike many couples, our dates don't involve low-lighting and empty romantic gestures.

When we were on our way home the other evening, chatting amicably in the car - as we often do-, we realized that we'd just been on our version of date night.

Deus Ex Machina and I had the amazing opportunity to spend the evening with Dan Agro (and David and Gretchen at Urban Farm Fermentory) learning about medicinal and edible mushrooms with an emphasis on Reishi.

So much wonderful information!

Studying medicinal and edible plants is a big part of what Deus Ex Machina and I do, and just like Dan said last night, we like to use medicinal plants as tea (rather than tinctures), which is both soothing and healthy.

In my epiphany during that quiet ride home, I realized that when Deus Ex Machina and I go on a date, it's usually our opportunity to share in a learning experience, and those types of dates really do make our union stronger, because gaining this knowledge makes us, as individuals, stronger and the sharing of a common interest makes us, as a couple, stronger.

The next muschroom class is on a Sunday afternoon, and I'm thinking it won't be a "date" this time, as I'd like to talk to the instructor about having the girls there, too.

But I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for the next opportunity to steal away on a date with Deus Ex Machina and learn something exciting and interesting ... and on the way home holding hands and chatting in the quiet car, we can be reminded that this is what it's all about.

I wanted to remind everyone that Deus Ex Machina is doing a giveaway on his blog of my Aunt Connie's book "A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants." If you're not able to make it to classes, like the one we attended, this book is a great place to start learning about plants and their various uses.


  1. We've typically had the unconventional date nights, too... often in the car. When the kids were little, we'd pack them up and go exploring: they'd fall asleep, and we'd talk and sing and interact. For us, it was what we needed. These days I wonder what date nights will look like after the kids are gone? Stacking wood? Hanging laundry? Weeding the garden?

  2. @ Rachel - Ha! Ha! You and I are simpatico, my friend. I've had the same thoughts of what "date night" will look like for Deus Ex Machina and me in the future, because, realistically, if the kids are out of the house, why would we need to "go out" to be alone?

  3. I think we end up on a "date" maybe twice a year. Most time we just enjoy doing things with the kids. And we generally stay up hours after they go to bed and spend that time together.

    Alot of our pre-marriage communication was by letter when he went away to basic and then tech school for 10 months. I think we had a pretty good handle on each other by the end of that time. Wouldn't trade it, thats for sure.

  4. @ autumnesf - my husband and I did a fair amount of communicating through letters and once-a-week phone calls in the few months before we were married and for almost a year after we were married. At the time, I would have much preferred that we lived together :), but it did allow us time to learn about each other on a different level and forced us to learn to communicate.

  5. My husband is a big gamer, and I enjoy it as well, so our "date nights" are usually meeting every other week at the game store for a round of DnD. Very unconventional, but banding together to defeat a Kracken or a dragon is wonderful fun.

  6. @ Patricialynn - when my children were younger, we had some friends who'd come over a couple of times a month for a little D and D. We had one game that went on for, like, a year. Gotta love Dragon-slaying ;).

  7. I, too, had a wonderful time. You did forget to mention that I got you dinner with a drink.

  8. @ Deus Ex Machina - you're right. I did forget to mention the reichi vegan soup and the reichi tea, which were both delicious ;). Thanks for the reminder ... and thanks for the lovely "date night" :).

  9. It's really hard to get a sitter where we are, and of course when I could get a sitter my husband wasn't even in the same country as me. LOL So our "date nights" now consist of us watching some sort of show or movie once the kids go to bed on a Saturday night. If I'm really lucky he'll sneak out to the shoppette and get me a Dr Pepper. Last weekend he was reorganizing his desk and I was redoing the bookshelves - he looked up and asked, "So does this count as quality time?" (We went through a marriage retreat after the last deployment and found out both of us have the same primary love language - Quality Time.) To which I replied "It sure IS! And bonus points because it's getting things done that I really wanted done." (My secondary "language" is acts of service... so I got to serve my family by getting the books sorted and properly shelved, and he served me by getting the desk straightened out.) I call that a doozie of a date day, honestly. As frugal folk, a fancy dinner and paying a sitter wouldn't have been anywhere NEAR as fun - I'm sure your readers know how that goes. ;D

  10. @ Melonie - Too funny! and I think you're absolutely right that most folks who read my blog wouldn't think spending a bunch of money is as fun as just doing something together as a couple - even something as mundane as rearranging the furniture ;).