Why ‘Dinner and a Movie’ Is a Bad Idea for Date Night

Relationship Design

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Vanessa Jones of Nerds Do It Better.
My husband and I love the movie Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey.
Not only is the movie hilarious, but for some reason the characters remind us of our own marriage (well at least the parts before they get chased by the mob). In particular, how we get so busy that we have to purpose to spend time with each other, and how this purposeful intimacy helps our marriage stay afloat as the marriages around us crumble. But the movie Date Night is the exception and not the rule for how my husband and I spend our real-life date nights.
We like to practice a little something called “planned spontaneity.”
The “planned” part is the day of the date.
We’ll choose a particular evening, or even an entire day on a weekend, well in advance to devote to spending time together. The spontaneous part is we won’t make any concrete plans. We just get on the nearest highway and drive, discussing with each other along the way what might be fun to do.
It’s weird how much of a rush I get when the whole evening is ahead of us and we can do anything we please. Usually we both have some fun ideas in mind that we’ve been chewing on during the week that we throw back and forth on the commute to our destination, wherever that may be. But sometimes we drive past a weird store or a funky restaurant on our meandering path and stop in to explore.
It’s not about where we go.
It’s about sharing an experience together.
So far doing this, we’ve stumbled on a store that sells delicious local wines, we’ve discovered a trail in a beautiful nature preserve, we’ve found a large field to fly kites (I keep them in the trunk of my Civic for those rare, perfectly windy days), and most recently we’ve found a rich neighborhood where we could park our car and walk block by block, taking in each house’s overly-extravagant Christmas lights and decorations and their reflections off their owners’ Jaguars and BMWs.
Sometimes we end up bowling, playing mini-golf, going for coffee or just sitting under the stars in a neighborhood park, squeezing our not-so-thin bodies into the swings if we can and talking about life.
But one thing we don’t end up doing is the old dinner-and-a-movie routine. Why? Because we learned early in our marriage that for us, dinner and a movie means rushing through dinner so you don’t miss the start of the movie and then sitting in front of a screen for two hours.
For us, dinner and a movie did not maximize our quality time together and did not help launch us into the meaningful communication that we get so little of during the week.
Have you ever planned a bit of spontaneity into a date night in your own marriage?
How did it turn out?
Vanessa Jones blogs regularly on her site, Nerds Do It Better and for 100 Best Dating Sites.

(photo source)