My husband and I, fortunately, get to go on a once-a-week date night after work, where it’s just the two of us without the kids around. Since we have been together for over a decade, our preferences for date night activities have changed over the years from our early relationship while in university, to our years after graduation and marriage, and to the current where we juggle work and the children. These days the duration of our dates has been reduced due to the commitments we have, , and so our date night activities have adjusted as well. After being together this long, I have pretty much narrowed down what I enjoy on our dates.
So what do I consider an ideal date night (or day) with my significant other?
Few things remained a priority for me, and some new ones have emerged and made a place in the list.
1. Good Food
We have always valued good food, and that is one of the common things we shared from the start, thankfully. So this is a key priority for a good date night.
While we were younger and starting out in our careers, we couldn’t afford that much so we made our list of affordable eateries which we would call ‘some cheap good food‘ or SCGF for short, roughly budgeting about RM35 a day that covered lunch and dinner.
There were cheap street foods like Wan Tan noodles and our popular local fried oyster omelets to enjoy at a low cost, or finding the best chicken or duck rice in town, or even squat sitting at a narrow alley to have boiled shellfish, fried squid, and fried bean curd skin with delicious spicy sauce, or a plate of good char siew fan aka Chinese style roasted pork, all these made our list of affordable good food and we frequented those places.
Nowadays we can afford more expensive foods at restaurants, the likes of Japanese, Thai, Korean or Mexican cuisines, or even a good piece of steak, or lamb rack occasionally. Up till recently, we used to reserve some of these places only for special dates like our anniversary or birthdays in the past.
With our tummies filling up with food, that leads us to our second and equally important must-have on a date night.
2. Good Conversation
I value good, honest, thoughtful conversations with my spouse. Marriage for me fills the role of having someone who I can be really open towards and talk to, about anything, and receive equally good conversational content back.
Sure, we do not see eye to eye on everything, but in times like those I value his opinions and his thought process, his alternate view on things, and he values mine. At least at the basic core, we have similar principles for our family and our faith. The rest, we need to continuously work out, even to this day.
We are two different personalities, constantly feeding each other with new insight. We need to constantly grow in our understanding of each other, and this includes learning from each other differing perspectives and ways of doing things. On topics we disagree, there are the occasional arguments, of which then I would take a step back and review his perspective, and sometimes we both find a middle ground or compromise. As for topics we agree on, we tend to build upon them and it tends to become an enjoyable conversation.
Another important part of our date night conversations are our discussions of topics related to our family, it’s almost like a weekly review meeting for our ‘company’. What I mean by this is that we discuss our future plans and wishes, we talk about our finances, careers, which schools the kids are to go to, how to help our children with their personal growth, house renovation plans, when to have a second car, what to cook for the weekend, and so on.
Lastly, laughter itself is a key aspect of our conversations, and one of the reasons we love being around each other so much. We joke, we make odd scenarios in our heads, we laugh at the kids antics of the day, and we hold each other’s hands.
3. Wanderlust – Walking To Discover New Places
After good food, I enjoy taking a walk to relieve some of the fullness of the meal, and also to meet a desire of mine to explore and discover new places, or to just observe my local surroundings better.
I recall back when we were engaged, an elder asked us what were our plans for our coming honeymoon after the wedding. We became quiet due to uncertainty, due to we married relatively young, we did not want to use what balance savings we had after the wedding for an expensive overseas holiday.
He proposed for us to take an island holiday, basically just lazing around the island and hotel and have a calm holiday, with and much quality time for each other.
But even then I knew I did not want that, and to confirm this thought of mine, we did try an island holiday a few years on in our marriage, and it was, really boring.
What we ended up doing instead for our honeymoon was taking an overnight train ride from Seremban, Malaysia to Singapore, and upon arriving at 6 am the next day, with only our phones and our bags, we walked about and took public transport around Singapore till we found our hotel. Along the way, we stopped at random quaint coffee shops, asked around for directions, and took the local Mass Rapid Transit train till we reached Bugis, and walked for another 25 mins from the station there to Little India where our boutique hotel was located. The rest of the honeymoon was spent in similar fashion, we took the local trains and busses around and walked about to find eateries, places of interest and so on. Some nights we just kept on walking around Orchard road, crossing underground linked tunnels to get to new malls and buildings, or stopping by to enjoy their local street foods.
Why did I want to do it this way?
Because we were young and able-bodied to do so, because it was cheaper, and because it was way more fun experiencing a foreign land this way. By walking and exploring, we got to see more of Singapore, other than what was portrayed in the travel guides. We saw both the smaller local shops and businesses in the older parts of town, and the expensive high-end restaurants and malls. We weaved in and out along the back alleys of the town and observed more scenes and sights of the locals living around there.
Up to this day, after a meal, we would try to walk about wherever we are. Taking a back lane would be one way to see more of your local scene than just walking along the main road. Notice the unknown eateries that you probably wouldn’t see if you drove, the colorful Grafitti on the walls, the way of life of the poor, and the local street people living there. Notice the old dilapidated buildings that were once glorious 40 years ago and wonder what happened through the years to them.
Alternatively, a walk in a park during sunset is refreshing too, it will take your mind off your routine daily thoughts and think of the years of life you have to offer your family, community, and yourself.
Maybe a pair of good walking shoes can be a good purchase for you and your partner if you choose to walk with each other more. Take a walk around town, a hike up a hill, or to the local park, you may enjoy it more than you think.
All these being said, I would like to mention that if we are unable to go out for any reason, having a delicious home-cooked meal in the comfort of home, followed by a movie with dessert also makes a good date for me.
The bottom line is that relationships take work to continuously maintain and grow, as two separate individuals are involved in a long-term commitment. More so if you have little kids to care for, your quality time with each other is limited and you may end up taking each other for granted over the years. Make the time spent with your partner count, and figure out what both of you want for a date night out.