The last year has been a season of great change. It seemed as if every important relationship was tested in the fire. Steve and I had found ourselves in a new season of our marriage. It was a time of struggle and creativity.
My Dad was officially diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in the beginning of winter. There were many days he had no memory of my mother - his wife of 42 years and current caregiver.
In February 2019, his memories of me began to fade. There were many mornings he'd wake up, turn to my mother and ask, "Do I have any children?" When I'd talk to him on the phone, he believed I was a good friend, not his daughter of 32 years. Out of habit, I'd tell him I loved him at the end of our conversations and he'd look at me perplexed.
Before me, he stood. There was a man that looked like my Dad in every way. However, he wasn't my Dad. My Dad was gone and with all the chaos of life, I hadn't even given him a proper goodbye. I couldn't even tell him everything he meant to me because he couldn't understand it.
I went from beloved daughter to a casual friend. There were some days he didn't even want to talk to me on the phone. My mom would try to comfort me by telling me, "It's not Dad, it's Lewy." Lewy (short for Lewy Body Dementia) became the name for his new dementia fueled persona.
For years, we'd been blessed to have my parents as a means of child care for our son. Now, that option was no longer available.
It was a time of putting every bit of trust I had into God's will. I was hurting and yearning for any bit of normalcy I could grasp.
The date nights that Steve and I had enjoyed for the last three years came to an abrupt halt. As a couple that "plays" together, it was difficult to change gears. We're both very active people and enjoying "doing things" when we're together. From bowling to the theater, our marriage has thrived on doing fun things in our community.
Every weekend, we came up with fun activities to do as a family. However, my husband and I missed the alone time we used to get. The combined stress of my Dad, work, and maintaining a household took a toll on us each night. Before we knew it, we'd start a movie and be asleep on our couch within minutes.
In the past, when it was time for date night, there was always excitement in the air. I dressed up for my husband, trying to look my best for him. Date nights meant that time together was a priority, not an afterthought.
But, creating the romance of a date night can seem impossible when childcare isn't an option.
I began to think about many of our nights out. What made them so great? For me, it was conversation with my husband. Whether we were bowling or at a restaurant, Steve and I would always flirt and banter throughout the night. We'd joke around and make each other laugh. We'd talk about issues, dreams, or whatever felt important to us.
Date Night October 2018 - @ Michigan Opera House / Phantom of the Opera
Why did I need a restaurant to replicate that same type of conversation? I remembered the scene from
It's a Wonderful Life when George and Mary no longer have money for their honeymoon. So, they recreate a "getaway" honeymoon in the the old, abandoned house they'd thrown rocks at on a romantic evening in their youth. That scene is classic, and considered very romantic.
Instead of an obstacle, I saw our situation as a wonderful opportunity from God to get creative. I bought as many board games as I could find - from strategic to funny. I purchased a Fondue set (who needs the Melting Pot restaurant when you can have it at home?) On Fridays, I'd go to the store and purchase some of our favorite snacks or foods.
Last year, my husband and I restored an old stereo system and record player that had been my parents. Being at home was the perfect opportunity to start using it. We went to the local music store and bought records and CDs by both of our favorite bands. From Journey to Elvis, we loaded up our CD and record player. After our son would go to bed, we'd put on some music. It was great, it made us feel like teenagers hearing the music we'd grown up listening to.
When we'd play board games, it was a chance to banter and laugh with each other. I'd light some candles and dim the lights when we'd make fondue at our kitchen table. It was fun!
Despite our challenging circumstances, it was a blessing to know that I could still date my husband. I just enjoyed being with him, even if we aren't able to go out for a night on the town.
This has been an opportunity for both of us to redefine what romance means in our marriage. My definition is no longer dependent on the activity or place I'm going. It's all about the man. My man.
Date Nights Now - @ Home and Loving it!
What obstacles are keeping you from dating your spouse? Are you able to play together? God wants us to have fun, loving and fulfilling marriages. There are so many ways to bond with your spouse: cooking, music, food, games, books, movies, faith, and prayer. There are many valid reasons we may feel we don't have the time or resources to adequately date our spouse.But, the good news is that we can! We just need to get a little creative!