You sit down at an austere and strange table, one you have never sat at before. The hard wood chair pierces into your mid-back.
Just then, someone else sits down across the table.
That’s when it happens. You’ve just dropped into a moment of intimacy like a skydiver dropping from a plane.
It’s intense, kind of awkward, and, just, too much, too soon.
This might sound like a riveting interrogation scene from a movie or like some sort of inhumane psychology experiment.
But it’s not. It’s dinner date night with your partner.
That’s right, for some strange reason, we believe that it’s possible to magically transition from the rushed insanity of everyday life to this across-the-table, eyes-locked, moment of intimacy, all in the split-second it takes us to sit down at a restaurant.
We experienced this firsthand last Saturday night. We sat at our table. We stared at each other from opposite sides. And this insight hit us like a bolt of lightning: the setting of date night dinner, perhaps the classic modern couples experience, is perfectly designed to make it almost impossible to ease into the relaxed experience of connection.
It’s no wonder you see so many couples sitting across from each other at an expensive restaurant — staring into their phones. This is all just too intense, too soon.
How can you overcome this structural flaw in the classic date night experience of dinner out? Here are three tools.
1. Warm up.
Sitting across the table from each other like this, gazing into each other’s eyes, is the conversational equivalent of skiing a double black diamond bump run. Sure, you can do it. But doesn’t it make sense to ski something easier for your first run?
What’s a good way to warm up for the intimacy of dinner date night? Go for a brief walk together. Or begin your conversation on your drive to the restaurant. Do something active, something that doesn’t require you to stare into each other’s eyes right out of the gate.
2. Ask better questions.
If you’re going to sit together like this, make sure that the depth of your conversation matches the moment. It’s tempting to talk about random life logistics, the latest news, or the weather outside.
“Sure is windy today, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, super windy.”
But one of the keys to building intimacy on date night is dropping one level deeper by asking good questions.
You might ask:
- What’s been going on in your inner world lately?
- What are you looking forward to or excited about?
- What are the looping thoughts that hook you these days?
- If the laws of gravity didn’t apply and we could wave a magic wand, what would we want our life together to look like?
You can find a whole list of additional questions in our free Epic Date Night guide.
3. Date night (beyond dinner).
Dinner out can be an amazing experience. No kids. No dishes. Amazing food (hopefully).
But it’s worth also remembering that date night can take so many other forms, where you’re more side-by-side than eye-to-eye and better positioned to evade this strangely awkward conversational set up.
You could go on a date hike (our personal favorite).
You could go to a sports game.
You could attend a concert.
You could sit together side-by-side at a bar.
You could learn the basics of ax throwing.
You could go bowling.
You could take a cooking class.
You get the point. While dinner is amazing, it’s worth also remembering that there are so many amazing other options out there.
This article was reposted and used with permission from The 80/80 Marriage
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