One of the things I appreciated the most about my late husband Jim was that he insisted that we have a weekly date. We wisely made “issue discussion dates” for working out problems, but our regular weekly date was sacred time not to be polluted by a disagreement. During a very tough time our date was breakfast out with him working on a crossword puzzle and me reading my novel. Then we’d go see a movie. These were safe activities that gave us peaceful time together even though, apart from this “time out,” we were consumed with trying to resolve a major issue. I look back on those silent, but otherwise pleasant dates, as one of the things that kept us together until we finally agreed on a solution that worked for both of us.
We went on to enjoy seventeen wonderful years together before he passed on. When cleaning out his papers I found a file simply labeled “Nancy.” In it I found the secret to the occasional “Mystery Dates” that he planned for me. There were newspaper clippings, hand written notes and cut-outs from magazines. Every four or five months he would use these notes to plan an all-day date. He would tell me that on a certain day he was planning a “Mystery Date,” tell me what to wear and what additional clothes to bring (if needed).
On time, as soon as we were in the car, he played a particular love-song that he’d discovered and wanted me to hear. (I cried!) We drove to the beach for breakfast then played a few table games on a picnic table. He drove me to a unique quilt shop in Santa Monica. He stayed in the car with his...yes…crossword puzzle and newspaper and told me to take all the time I wanted to peruse fabrics and patterns to my heart’s content…a real love gift! The day continued with a bowl of soup at a local eatery after which we changed our clothes in their bathroom and drove to Hollywood for a stage show I’d mentioned I hoped to see.
Not all of his surprise locations or activities were as big hit with me as the above date, but the fact that he’d gone to so much trouble to plan a whole day around activities he thought I would enjoy, not to mention several hours of his uninterrupted attention, always made me feel so very, very loved!
I also had a file where I kept ideas for “Mystery Dates” for Jim. Most of our weekly dates, however, were somewhat predictable. The important thing was that we had regular time together that was (this is important!) chore, errand and issue free. After finally getting through that tough time, we were also dedicated to clearing up any issues as they arose.