small-heart.jpgThe New York Times published an article this week about long-married couples needing to reinvent the popular tradition of date night. Brain and behavior researchers have completed a study which indicates, “Simply spending quality time together is probably not enough to prevent a relationship from getting stale.” Apparently, according to this study, one of the ways to keep a relationship freshly crisp is for long-married couples to try new and exciting activities such as enrolling in an art class together or taking on a new sport such as skiing-the idea being “…injecting novelty in the relationship.” The goal is to restore the rapture and sizzle of those first months of courtship. The conventional date night of dinner and a movie may not be enough to keep a marriage invigorated. The classic tradition of dinner and a movie may very well be inadequate, threadbare and dusty.

Sunday night is date night for Mr. and Mrs. G. And they almost always spend the evening…


going out to dinner


and seeing a movie.

Mrs. G. brought this article to Mr. G’s attention, and he asked her if she thought it had any merit. They considered some of the suggestions of activities that might energize their date nights and, thus, their marriage


Mountain climbing? Mrs. G. doesn’t like the thought of date night being uphill. She wants it exercise free. Mr. G. doesn’t relish the idea of being cold or plunging to an untimely death.


Concerts? Too loud and a pain in the ass to find parking.


Dancing? Too crowded. Mr. and Mrs. G. only dance at home to horrify entertain their kids.

In a recent post describing an exchange between Mr. and Mrs. G. regarding Mrs. G’s lack of underwear, one tactful and warmhearted reader sent Mrs. G. an email suggesting a couple of book titles that might spice up her marriage. One or two commenters good naturedly implied that Mr. G. missed the opportunity to pull Mrs. G. into a corner and feel her up. It’s true he didn’t take this more seductive and aggressive route. But he didn’t miss the opportunity to gently place his hand on the small of Mrs. G’s back and make her laugh like no one else can.


So, yes, the butterflies of early love, for the most part, have fluttered elsewhere. They return occasionally when the valleys of a long-standing marriage slowly ascend, once more, to peaks. When children succeed or peace is restored or a neck is rubbed after a long week.


Fireworks are rare, but their infrequency makes those moments when Mr. and Mrs. G. realize they still have it goin’ on, all the more tender and sweet.


Undoubtedly, Mr. and Mrs. G. could make more of an effort to inject novelty into their relationship. And sometimes they do. Mrs. G. will sit on the left side of the couch instead of the right. Or Mr. G. will bring home a new flavor of Ben & Jerry’s. They might watch Law & Order on Monday nights at 8:00 instead of the Antiques Road Show. He might hold her hand and she might scratch his head.

Tomorrow, Mr. and Mrs. G. will have been married for eighteen years. And what will they do?


Probably go out to dinner


and see a movie.


Because that’s what they like to do. There may be bells and whistles and there may not. It’s impossible to predict. But there will be a celebration of love, steadfastness, kindness, loyalty and endurance. Mr. and Mrs. G. will toast their success in accepting the good and the bad and their long sought victory of learning to live and let live. Neither the New York Times nor studies done by brain and behavior experts will ever convince Mrs. G. that New and Improved is always superior and more exciting than Time-Honored and Works Just Fine. Mrs. G. wants to give a shout out to quiet, ordinary, content and constant, adjectives that aren’t sparkly and dramatic enough to make the cover of a magazine but, for many couples, are the ingredients to sanctity and sustenance.

So, Mrs. G. doesn’t need books or mountain climbing to spice up her marriage, because, after eighteen years, it is well seasoned and satisfying. It is dependable and, most days, a guaranteed good time-much like dinner and a movie.