I just got back from my first cruise. I loved it and plan to start saving for the next one.
Each night I watched couples, getting dressed up a little better than usual, and go to the main dining room. I dressed up better than usual. Some sat with friends who came together on the cruise. Others sat with people who started out as strangers, but who became friends. Some sat at a table just for the two of them. We started with an appetizer or soup, then our main course, then dessert and coffee. Some people had wine with their dinner. No one was gobbling up their food in 15 minutes. You did not see computers, cell phones. There were no beeps, bells and buzzes to be heard. There was not a TV screen to be found. People actually talked with each other, even the couples at the tables for two.
After a leisurely dinner that felt ‘special’, people headed to the theater for a show. Some went to a movie under the stars. Some went to play trivia games. Some went to a lounge to listen to music or dance. If they went to the TV in their cabin they probably watched a movie together or a documentary. (I think there was one sports station that was not ‘live’ and a news station although I did not bother to watch either one.)
Many stopped before or after the show of the evening to have their portrait taken by professional photographers.
It struck me that on a cruise ship, every night is ‘date night’. People took the time to be present to each other, to talk, to enjoy something together. You could see couples in their 70’s or 80’s holding hands as they walked to the theater. You could see it in two or three friends who decided to spend a vacation together. You could see it in adult siblings traveling together.
I don’t know about you, but in my house, ‘dinner’ is usually us sitting around in housework or yardwork clothes or maybe the work clothes of the day. We have a great dinner, but usually in front of the TV. I jump on the computer soon after to attend to email or work on something from work.
I don’t need to go on a cruise for us to plan even once a month to dress up a little nicer for dinner, to make something simple, that includes an appetizer, then our main meal, then our dessert and coffee. We can even use cloth napkins. I don’t need to go on a cruise to take the time to be truly present and enjoy conversation, thoughts, ideas, an experience or a story. I don’t need to be on a cruise to grab the camera and take a picture of us. I don’t need to be on a cruise, to watch a movie together, or to put on music that we enjoy.
Date night or ‘friend night’ can be, but does not have to cost much. It can, but doesn’t have to be out of the house (although if you have children, you might need to find a way for them or you to be out of the house!). You can even do similar ‘family nights’ once a month. I know it can be challenging with children, but it is possible to carve some ‘us’ time now and then and to make it a priority. People can be very creative!
Try it. Do either an ‘at home’ date night or a night out date night. Do a ‘best friend’ night with your spouse, partner, or your best friend. Make sure that it is not just leaving the house and going to a movie theater where you never talk to each other. Build in time to talk, to listen, to tell stories. That helps build intimacy and connection. That helps make the ‘us’ matter.
What works for you in your busy lives to carve out that precious ‘us’ time?