The Value of Date Night
A client of ours got divorced late last year after 27 years and three kids. The way she explained it was rather tragic, actually.
“It dawned on me on a Saturday morning,” she said. “My husband and I were having coffee in the kitchen and not talking, as usual. And I realized that we had essentially forgotten how to talk to each other. We had been out of practice for so long that we lost the skill completely.
“I told my husband how I felt. He said he felt the same way. And that was it. I’m happier now. But I’m still devastated that it came to that.”
Imagine that. A quarter-century of history ending in silence. It’s unfortunately more common that anyone wants to admit, but the numbers bear it out.
A found that the number of people over 50 getting divorced has grown 109 percent since 1990 (compared to a 14 percent increase among people 40 to 49 and a 21 percent decrease in the 25- to 49-year-old demographic.
So if you’re a 40-something married woman, what can you do to make sure you don’t wind up like our newly divorced client?
From our standpoint it’s pretty simple: put in the effort to keeping yourselves in each other’s lives.
The simple ask of making the choice to look good for your partner is the epitome of romance. It subliminally (or not so subliminally) establishes the other person as worthy of your effort.
We’ve had clients come in specifically for something to wear on a date with their husbands. And it warmed our hearts every time, especially that smile they get when they find the perfect piece.
It’s a smile of pride, anticipation and love.
And it leads to the kind of dopamine release that builds up over time and keeps the fire burning beyond years and into decades.
Dressing for "Date Night"
What you wear obviously depends on what you’re doing, but our advice for date night with your partner is to dress elegantly but comfortably. Your partner is the one person you should feel okay about being around with your guard down.
Here are a few pieces we’ve sold clients in advance of date night:
Simple "Date Nights"
There’s a time, usually in your 30s, when you equate the price and pomp of date night activity with a successful date night.
But then, in your 40s, usually after a few years with kids, you realize that the company is more important than the activity.
Go for an inexpensive dinner. Go for a walk. Catch a flick or a play. Whatever you do, you want to know you look good and not give it another second of thought. You want to be 100% focused on your partner. In a perfect world, you want to notice something different about him every time you go out, and you want him to notice something different about you. That’s not going to happen if you’re overly focused on what you’re wearing or what you’re doing.
"Date Night" Etiquette
Real life with a young family is just about trying to get through the day in one piece. Things like chivalry and courtesy take a back seat and that’s okay. But it’s not okay on date night.
You and your partner should commit to being on your best behaviour on date night. Hold doors for each other. Say “pardon me?” instead of “what?”
And make an effort to keep conversations going by avoiding words that shut them down: words like “no” and “whatever.” There’s an old improv trick where you answer everything your stage partner says with “yes…and…” so there’s always something to say and the conversation is always being added to.
Try to keep your date nights. Yes, life is busy, but not too busy that you can’t take two hours a week to make sure you and your partner have a sustainable future.
On a personal note
Clarke and Dorothea have been married for 31 years. They’re on a super-busy buying trip, crisscrossing Europe, going frantically from show to show and making decisions that will affect the next year here at PK. But you can bet they’ll make time to take time at their favourite café romantic Maison Bès in Paris, Dry Milano in Milan for negronis and great music.