I had a great plan. Grab some delicious take-out from one of our favorite restaurants, pick-up our favorite drinks from Starbucks, grab the best book within arms reach, and venture over to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort to read fireside by the massive stone fireplace. If we so desired, we would meander around the grounds for a bit of conversation. Not too bad of a plan — well, only if your ears perk when hearing the words “Dewey” and “Decimal” together. However, I (and we) have learned that no matter how cool the plan, sometimes the plan doesn’t meet the need. Date Night is an opportunity to meet each others needs. Fellas tend to be oblivious to sensing felt needs, so here are three “L’s” of meeting needs that I use as a framework for thinking. It’s simple because I’m simple, initiating is the hard part.
How is she feeling? Is she connected and thriving or disengaged and bored? Are conversations revealing depth and camaraderie or disunity and distance? Is our nonverbal communication expressing friendship and playfulness or bitterness and missed needs? Do we feel like a team or combatants falling apart like the Bruins in last nights finals? I daily try to remind myself of Britt’s love language and think of different ways to serve her and meet needs. Love language can sometimes change with the season. For example, during pregnancy, Britt may need more acts of service than touch. Each day is filled with victories and missed opportunities, I would guess the goal is to increase the victories and reduce the misses as each year goes on.
Practically, listening for me (and this is so hard these days) means putting my phone in another room, not sitting down with the laptop when we’re together, and not engaging in some household tasks. She is my most important investment of time, she deserves my full mind and attention.
What are seasonal trends of the family? For us the summers and Christmas season can be full of long-distance travel, so I have to make sure we’re saying “no” to nearly everything during the weeks before and after. Does she have favorite holidays? Britt’s favorites are the 4th of July (can’t take the country out of the girl) and Christmas. You can bet I’m planning on grilling out, setting off fireworks, and planning where we’ll attend a 4th festival in our town. What have I learned from the past? Two years ago, for Mothers Day ago, I gave Britt and Azalea bush. Some may think, “how thoughtful” and others “that’s weird”. Britt’s reaction fell into the latter. Brittanny doesn’t care about the exterior of our house, whereas I do. Britt however would have loved it if I had spied on her Pinterest boards and created something from them to give to her. What mistakes have I made in the past? What have I learned about Britt? How can I better meet her needs? Am I learning or coasting?
At the end of the day, one of the hardest parts of marriage is simply initiating. That was the catalyst for this date night experiment altogether, I was disappointed in my leading. It’s hard to be frustrated with someone who is sincerely trying. Lily (our 16-month old daughter) sincerely tries to pick up when it’s time to clean, not much gets cleaned up, but I love her and am so thankful for the initiative (as much as a baby can initiate). My working definition of initiative is being able to assess needs (listen and learn) and act on the need. I have learned a good deal about that over the past few months. It’s sweet to see the fruit of Listening, Learning, and Leading.