When my husband and I reconciled our marriage last year after a six-month separation, one of the first things we agreed to do was to make sure we never stopped dating. The day to day tedium of jobs, parenting our children, and surviving through a pandemic and an economic crisis had made us forget to date each other. And in so doing, we had become complacent. We agreed that, if we were going to make our marriage reboot work, we were going to need to invest deeply in keeping our romantic spark alive.
When we were younger, before we were married, we had many wild nights. We loved finding live music, having a few too many drinks, and scream-singing and dancing the night away. And although our interests have changed a bit (we certainly can’t hold our drinks like we used to) that wildness still exists. It just seems like it has to stay caged up a lot.
So, we’ve worked on finding ways to let the inner wild out. “Wild” looks different when you’re not 20-something anymore — it’s more mature, more responsible. But wild is wild.
Last night, we got a babysitter and headed down to the boulevard we live on to grab dinner. We sat outside on a restaurant’s balcony, sipping red wine and taking in some fine dining. It was golden hour, and the sun kissed our skin while a gentle breeze rolled through the greenery that wrapped its way around the railing. It was refined, gentile.
When we were finished with our meal, we decided we wanted to find some fun to get into. We both grabbed a glass of wine to go (one of my favorite things about living on a boulevard where the entire street is open-container!) and headed to the plaza in the center of the boulevard. There was a band playing, and to our enormous excitement, they were doing mostly 80s cover music. Charlie was in a band in his 20s and 30s, and 80s music was primarily what they did. When you get that man around Journey, Rush, or Steely Dan, he completely transforms. My gentle, soft-spoken husband turns into a party guy, singing at the top of his lungs and usually bringing drinks to the members of the band when he can.
We danced and sang together until the band’s set was over. As the band was packing their things, we noticed one of our friends leaning over his balcony that overlooks the plaza and decided to shout up to him. My dear husband raised his drink into the air as he yelled our friend’s name and, naturally, bumped it against my chest and spilled red wine all the way down my white top.
When our relationship was on the rocks, this was the sort of thing that would have sent me to outer space. How humiliating, right? To be out among hundreds of people and have red wine all over your shirt? But when my husband and I are investing deeply in our relationship, when we are pouring into creating romance together, these things can be funny instead of infuriating. I rolled my eyes at him and playfully smacked him on the shoulder, and we headed back up to our apartment to get a clean shirt.
Since we were already back at our apartment, I suggested we let the babysitter go and just stay in for the night. But my sweet, excitable husband refused. It’s only 8:00, sweetie! We don’t have to do anything crazy, but we need to stay out longer. It’s our night!
He wasn’t wrong. We decided to refill our wine glasses and head back down to the boulevard. We didn’t do anything crazy, just found some chairs and sat down with our drinks, each reaching over our armrest to hold each other’s hand. We talked about our kids, our jobs, our friends. We talked about aliens, and AI, and the “government underneath the government.” We reminisced over old memories, every one of them special and beautiful.
Waking up this morning next to my sweet husband, I felt so renewed and refreshed. As we begin another long Saturday with two little kids who still need so much of our time and attention, we feel more prepared to take on the day together. Making time to date each other doesn’t just bless us and our marriage — it blesses our kids, too. When we make time to connect, to reaffirm our love and romance toward each other, we become better parents. We are more fulfilled, our cups brimming over with joy and pouring out onto our children.
I will never stop dating my husband. I will never stop making our time together a priority. Marriages are fragile, no matter what we say to each other about til death do us part on our wedding day. They are so easily lost, so easily tainted. It is so common to stop seeing the extraordinary in each other, to see ordinary instead. I am not ordinary. Neither is my husband. Our marriage isn’t ordinary. It is special, and living, and delicate. It deserves for us to handle it with care. And I am honored to spend the rest of my life doing exactly that.
Amber Wardell is a doctor of psychology and author who speaks on women’s issues related to marriage, motherhood, and mental health. Subscribe to the free newsletter to get exclusive content delivered to your inbox and to never miss an upload.