A long-awaited date-night at times creates anxiety. “I want it to be special.” “I don’t want to get into a fight on the way to the restaurant and ruin the evening.” “I don’t want to only talk about…”
A friend recently asked me and my husband for suggestions of questions she and her husband could ask each other so they didn’t spend the whole evening out talking about their new baby. Your issue may be different: caring for an aging parent, your child’s school placement, a stressful issue at work. Here’s a list of questions and conversation starters to make the most of your precious date.
How are you doing…really? Then be quiet and wait for the answer.
What are you learning these days?
Ask specific questions about work or life: how did that meeting go? What are you looking forward to/concerned about regarding work? How’s your mom doing?
Dig into your own life and identify things to offer to move the conversation: I was reading X and it made me think about…What do you think? Did you hear about Y in the news…? I heard a new song this week. I want to play it for you in the car. Talk/dream about your next trip together.
Speak out appreciations about each other regarding any topic.
If there is something you need from each other, make your request as clear and concrete as possible.
Decide ahead of time if you’ll do any business meeting-type stuff: finances, calendar, etc.
Make an agreement ahead of time about how much it’s ok to talk about your big issue. If you go over, be gentle with yourselves and change the topic. And as you do talk about it, focus on what you’re learning about yourself as you are dealing with it. You can talk about how the issue might be impinging on your friendship with each other, and how to get “us” time back.
Your date is also a great time to be “present.” Find a place or activity where you can lose yourself in the moment. Something you both love would be cool. Whether it is to the food you’re eating, the movie you’re watching, the view you’re seeing, turn all of your attention to the present moment – the smell, sight, taste, touch, and sound of the place. Notice it out loud – talk about what you’re experiencing. When your big issue pops into your head, gently see it coming, and gently let it go.
And if all else fails, hold hands and take a walk.