7 Things Guys Actually Want to Do on Date Night
When most people picture date night, they think of meals at little French bistros where you hold hands tenderly across a candlelit table and stare deeply into each other's eyes. You laugh and drink wine, and on the off chance you run out of things to talk about, it's okay, because you can just fall back into the cavernous, emotional well of excessive eye contact. We've been led to believe this is what date night should look like by Hollywood, TV, and the French bistro lobby.
In reality, date night is a relationship pressure cooker for men. Even if we know the difference between a profiterole and pâté (not guaranteed), we work up a sweat trying to be "on" when really what we want is some time off, with you. That's what these date ideas have in common: They're relaxing and romantic in a way a 43-page wine list will never be.
Take a sunset walk.Fair warning—your guy is not going to seem into this when you suggest it. He'll be lying on the couch watchingSportsCenterwith his pants off, and he'll mutter that it's too hot out. But you must get him out for that walk. My wife, Karel, sometimes bribes me with ice cream or (and) beer. You see, guys are like dogs: They may seem perfectly content to lie around the airconditioned house, but they actually need to get outside for some fresh air and a chance to stretch their legs. If they don't, they do the human male equivalent of dogs tearing up couch cushions, which is complaining about politics and writing horrible things in the comments section of Internet stories.
Have an evening picnic at the public pool.This might sound like a bad idea, because if your guy is anything like me, he hates the public pool. He hates it because: 1. It's teeming with loud, splashing, hormone-soaked teenagers. 2. There are too many potentially incontinent babies. 3. He's too busy making sure his own kids aren't drowning to enjoy himself. 4. He's sort of embarrassed to take off his shirt in public. These are all great and familiar excuses! But this date idea eliminates almost all of them. The teenagers go home for dinner because teens are hungry and dependent on their parents for food, and babies are tired by 6 p.m. and their parents want them to go to bed. So the pool is empty, the light is a little lower so your guy won't be as self-conscious about stripping down, and (since it's date night) you left your kids with the neighbors. When you're done swimming, you can have a picnic and crack open that box of wine you smuggled in. Getting to share a quiet dinner by the pool with you in your bathing suit after a few cannonballs in the deep end is like air-conditioning for the stressed-out summer man's soul.
Go to a baseball game.This isn't like a movie, where you're sitting next to your partner in silence for two and half hours, nor is it like that fancy, uptight dinner. The pace of baseball lends itself to the natural ebb and flow of hanging out with your guy; you can talk or you can watch the game—no matter what, you're sharing the experience of a lovely day becoming a nice night. That is, unless your husband is the kind of fan who gets invested in games involving a team that is a huge disappointment to the city, the fan base, and the entire concept of baseball (dammit, Phillies). In that case, you'd better find a minor league team, or watch the high school team play, since even if he's into baseball, he probably won't boo a bunch of kids.
Send the kids on a sleepover and stay home.It's so simple. When was the last time you sent all the children in your house away for an evening? Sure, it's logistically tricky. You might have to call in favors from neighborhood parents or family members. But it will totally be worth it. You don't have to decide who is drinking and who is driving, you don't have to dress up, you don't have to deal with crowds. All you have to do is appreciate a house that contains only two adults. Your home is suddenly transformed into a hotel room with an all-access minibarandyour favorite pillow.
Visit a neighborhood you don't live in.This is a habit I picked up when Karel and I lived in New York City. You have to walk all the time there, so you play "What if we lived here?" You look in people's windows (everyone in New York is used to this), then you talk about how you'd change the living room and ultimately discuss what you like about what you already have or what you want for your future. Who doesn't love a game that combines voyeurism with real estate prospecting and home improvement? That said, know your location: If you're in Texas cattle country and a stranger with a rifle sees you peeking in his window, he might not be interested in how you're spicing up your marriage by talking about his floor plan.
Play a low-impact lawn sport together.Badminton is a surprisingly satisfying game; it's got something to do with the sound of the birdie thwacking racket strings. Croquet is good too, if you both can avoid getting allHeathersabout it. Then there are games where you have to work together (Hacky Sack, Frisbee); they help you communicate, cooperate, and avoid kicking each other in the face. Also, interacting physically outside is pretty conducive to interacting physically inside later. Blood flow and all that.
Find an outdoor festival.Say you want to go to something called the Cottonwood Arts Festival, but you're worried your dude will complain. Here's a tip: Every outdoor fair worth going to has a stand selling sugary fried dough, meat on a stick, and a regional variation of the sausage-and-pepper sandwich. If your guy is like me, he will be excited to go to any gathering if you mention these summer delicacies. Find the stands selling the food as soon as you get there. He can eat while you look at fruitwood salad bowls, and in order to not get separated in the throng of people, you'll end up holding hands. Everyone will go home satisfied.
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