On our recent 14th wedding anniversary, my husband and I actually managed to get a sitter so we could go out on our first real date in several months. I was so excited to be able to go out without the kids. So, like I always do beforehand, I imagined the perfect evening and tried to plan it out.
We decided to grab dinner and see a movie, something we haven’t been able to do for one reason or another for probably two years (not counting Netflix). We chose “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” and I was really looking forward to it. We tried out a new restaurant, and had good time talking and eating without being constantly interrupted by our children. But when we got up to head to the theater, which was literally two minutes from the restaurant, I noticed we were 40 minutes early—and that is where the night started going wrong.
I was worried about the movie starting so late and whether our kids could hold out until 10 PM or later with the sitter. I also hate to sit through 15 minutes or more of movie previews, so I suggested a change of plans.
“There is another movie that starts earlier about 10 minutes away,” I told Brian, after looking it up on my phone. “Let’s go to that one, and we can just miss the previews and still be home earlier to put the kids to bed!”
Brian hesitated for a second, but then I reminded him that if we got home earlier, we’d have to pay the sitter less money. That last part sold him, and he agreed to my plan.
We drove like crazy to the other theater, and wasted time arguing about parking, only to arrive at the ticket counter 15 minutes after the movie had started. I still wanted to go, but Brian has a strict rule against missing even a few minutes of a movie, especially when he has to fork over $10 a ticket.
I was feeling really disappointed as we walked back to the car, not to mention guilty since it was my fault we’d missed the movie in the first place. Brian was just irritated as he mentally calculated the extra gas (and time) we’d wasted driving to a different theater when we could have been seated in our seats across town.
“I’m sorry I ruined things,” I mumbled. Then I had another idea. “How about we go play mini-golf just like we did on our very first date?”
Brian perked up then, and started searching his phone for a place near us. “The closest one is 30 minutes away,” he said with a frown.
But I found one that was closer. So we started driving again, only to realize half way there that place had closed down last summer.
At this point, we’d been driving around for at least an hour, mostly bickering about where to go, and we only had a little while left before we had to go home. I felt deflated, tired and frustrated at Brian (and myself).
“Why do all our dates have to end up like this?” I complained.
“All our dates are not like this,” he said.
“Oh yes, they are! “ I responded, and I proceeded to list the series of disaster dates we’d had since we got married. Like that time we were headed to a marriage conference to work on our relationship, but we got into a huge fight on the way there because Brian got lost, which made us an hour late. Or the time we got tired waiting for a table at a really nice restaurant (because Brian forgot to make reservations), and so we ended up eating crappy fast food instead. Or the time we spent most of our date night shopping at Walmart because we couldn’t think of anything else to do. By the time I finished my list, we were both laughing. But deep down, I was worried. Why we couldn’t seem to plan and execute a romantic date night, especially on our anniversary? What if that said something about our marriage?
The evening actually ended better than it began. Brian put a halt to our “what to do” search by taking us to a local homemade custard shop on the way home. We ate our treats in the car, but at least we were together—and kid free. Later, we ended up cuddling on the couch and watching a movie on Netflix.
No, it wasn’t the perfect date night, but maybe that was the problem. I was too busy trying to “plan” and “institute” the “perfect” evening that I neglected to just enjoy our time together. I was also too worried about the kids and the sitter, who would have been fine for an extra hour while we watched a long-overdue movie at the theater.
Like so many of our imperfect dates, our marriage has had its ups and downs, wrong turns, and mishaps over the last 14 years. But we’ve made it through together, and at the end of the day, that is what really matters. Whether we are watching a movie, eating at a fancy restaurant, or driving around town looking for something to do, what matters most is that we are still doing this thing called marriage together after 14 years, which is honestly a milestone in both our families!