A while ago, a friend and I were talking about date nights. Like me, she's a mama and has been married for a while, with a husband whose job involves irregular hours. "It's so hard to think of stuff to do for dates," she said, and went on to describe their efforts to make a meal together after their kids were in bed, to set aside time to watch a movie, or to sit and pray. As she talked, I found myself thinking, "Oh, that's date night? That's just what Andrew and I do a lot of nights."
The point is, every relationship is different, and one person's special occasion is another's typical evening. More and more lately, I've been realizing how content Andrew and I are with simplicity. We celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary last month and, as I often do around times like his birthday or our wedding day, I found myself scrambling to think of a creative gift and out-of-the-ordinary date, a feeling that's heightened after becoming parents since our opportunities for dates are more limited these days.
In my eagerness, I tend to ignore or forget the fact that my husband isn't into all the bells and whistles. Impossible as it may sound, the man just does not like getting gifts. And, even without the threat of a single Instagram post in sight, he sometimes struggles to feel at ease with things that, on the surface, seem more like something fun a couple should do, rather than what they actually want to do. I have to admit, I used to think this was boring of him, or purely for the sake of making a statement against the falseness that can sometimes accompany social media. But truly, the more time we spend together, the more I find our once-different viewpoints becoming more similar in certain areas, and this is one of them--not because Andrew has forced his opinions on me, but because joy is a fruit of putting another before yourself. It's taken me so long, and I still struggle--gift giving is one of my love languages, and I really do love picking things out for him!--but now it actually makes me happy to not give my husband extravagant presents or plan elaborate nights out, and he finds happiness in the occasions where we do go out for something fancier, knowing that I enjoy it.
"Authentic" is a word that gets tossed around often in the name of craft beers and Facebook fasts and artisanal donuts or whatever. And yet it does carry real weight, I think, when it comes to truth and self-knowledge. Knowing yourself is a way of understanding truth, because God, who is truth itself, reveals to you who you are, the more you come to know Him.
In the same way, I feel like the more I know and love Andrew, the more I know myself. Our lives are so shared that it doesn't feel possible to know one of us better without knowing the other. I am incredibly blessed by a man so intentional, critical, and discerning in his choices, all made in the name of virtue and a deeper closeness to God, and so comfortable and un-self-conscious in them. Like in the fact that for our anniversary, we got burritos at Baja Fresh and then hung out at home. Andrew wrote a beautiful poem that made me cry. I love his quiet creativity and I loved the entire day. There are definitely times when I wish we took advantage of more photo ops for our future selves (my husband is also not the biggest fan of my ideas for impromptu photo shoots!), or that we documented some of the recipes we've tried or places we've gone, but on the whole, this is our simple, non-Pinteresty, kept-to-ourselves life, and it feels peaceful and perfectly suited to us. Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote, "love alone is credible," and he was right.
Thoughts? Are you a lover of the fancy date night or more suited to the simple? Even though more planned out, photogenic romance isn't really our style, I still love hearing about other couples' sweet and creative gestures!