Ah, it's almost here: Absolutely my favorite night of the month, right up there with "dinner-is-anything-you-can-fix-yourself-night." Date Night. I admit; it takes some juggling. Securing a babysitter, feeding the kids, picking out something to wear that says, "hot mama" instead of "frazzled mama," peeling a protesting preschooler off my hip. But once we're out the door .... freedom!
It's evolved over time, this night we set aside to preserve that which began 16 years ago when we whispered "I do's" with stars in our eyes. Early on, Date Night took place whenever the mood struck ... lazy afternoons at the movies, dancing on Friday nights, weekends camping with friends. Once the kids arrived, it seemed as though Date Night might have gone the way of so many other luxuries ... like eating hot meals and lounging with the paper on Sundays.
Luckily I discovered very early on just how important it is to keep the love lights burning. Our firstborn arrived on the scene just nine days before our fourth wedding anniversary. I was a nervous wreck and couldn't imagine leaving him, but my husband was aching for a break from diapers and laundry. My sister-in-law volunteered to stay with our tiny bundle, so we traveled just two miles from home to the Arizona Grand (then The Pointe at South Mountain) for dinner. It wasn't easy, but I learned that even a newborn gets along just fine with a full belly and a set of warm arms to cuddle.
Now many years and two more children later, I don't have to be talked into escaping the routine of the domestic landscape. In the midst of the monotonous business of living - mortgages, practices, homework, meals, scraped knees, insurance policies and dentist appointments - Date Night is more necessity than luxury. Our choices run the gamut ... sometimes we pull out all the stops and eat whatever we want, wherever we want. Other times we head for Costco and walk very, very slowly through the aisles. Whatever the venue, the fading stars in our eyes start to twinkle a bit brighter. So where are we headed this month? Back to where it all started.
Once again, we're taking that long drive two miles down the road on Aug. 2 - this time to Arizona Grand's Ballroom for an evening appropriately called, "Date Night" with Gary Chapman. Haven't heard of him? Dr. Chapman wrote the best-selling book, The 5 Love Languages. Yes, guys; I realize you are sighing right now. Admit it; you're wondering if you can hide this from your wife. But wait. There's something for everyone here.
The premise of Chapman's book is that we each have a certain way in which we interpret love, including: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Gifts and Quality Time. Thing is, we often speak to our partner in our own love "language," not realizing it is a foreign tongue. If you wish your wife would cuddle on the couch next to you while you're watching Ultimate Fighting, but instead she leaves little love notes under your pillow; and, if your wife loves to hear you tell her she's beautiful, but instead you demonstrate your affection by taking her car for a power wash, you could both learn a few new tricks.
Together with his wife, Jennifer, Eric Garcia runs The Marriage and Ministry Training Conference based in Scottsdale that hosts Date Night. He says, "We often forget to date the person we fell in love with." The Garcias say the evening is their gift to the community, a night of fun with a New York Times best-selling author for just $5.
I hope you'll round up a sitter and head out to the Arizona Grand at 7 p.m. on Aug. 2. Maybe we'll see you there. My husband and I will be the ones with stars in our eyes, having successfully fled from three squabbling kids, two barking dogs and a messy house ... even for a few hours. But we'll return with new resolve to do it all over again.
To register for Date Night, visit Arizona Grand's website at http://www.amfmconference.com/datenightphx.asp.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Diane Meehl is a freelance writer, mother of three and a volunteer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.