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Reconnecting is essential to relationships

Kathy and I were teenagers when we started dating. Our first date was memorable.

“You don’t mind if we take my little brother to the ballpark for his game, do you?” Kathy, the oldest of five children, asked. Her mom was working late this Friday. “My Aunt Helen will take it from there.”

No problem. Russ was a scraggly, red haired six year old. He was kinda cute, and it would give us something to talk about. Having him along at the beginning would help us avoid any awkward periods of silence.

“This is Aunt Helen,” Kathy said as this smiling, dark haired lady trotted toward us, reached out, and grabbed me for a hug.

“Jimmy, I’ve heard so much about you,” she said as I gasped and blinked repeatedly.

It was a warm welcome that I cherish today. Then? I was caught a little off guard. My face burned as we smiled and shared small talk until Kathy told her aunt that we needed to leave.

Kathy looked sheepish as I opened her car door. “Pizza okay?” I asked. The tension broke.

She later revealed how she was relieved about pizza. No forks or knives – all she had to worry about going wrong was the “what if” pizza sauce fell on her light colored, flowery blouse.

The movie was at 7:20. We had plenty of time. The 50s throwback, I hoped, would be a hit on our first outing together. The movie would usher some soon-to-be stars into the limelight. George Lucas’s American Graffiti was anything but the perfect choice for a first date for two 16-year-olds. (Not to be prudish, but most of the movie we spent not making eye contact.)

Clearly, our first date was memorable, even though it did not go down as one of our greatest. I’m so glad they got better.

Dates are designed for couples to get to know each other. Dates are ideal for connecting, growing commonality and creating moments that belong only to the couple. Dates serve as building blocks before marriage. They are opportunities for individuals to meld as two people strive to become “one.”

During our years of dating, Kathy and I ate lots of pizza. We also enjoyed meals at Los Amigos and consuming cheeseburgers, fries and Dr. Peppers at McDonalds. We developed a better track record at the movies and expanded our outings to include trips to the local zoo and tourist points across Louisiana, like Jackson Square in New Orleans and Hodges Gardens near the bass fisher’s haven, Toledo Bend Lake. We spent vacations with each other’s families. On Sunday evenings, Kathy joined me at New Hope Baptist Church and then we had dinner with her family. Our successful dating culminated with a successful engagement and then marriage.

“When did the babysitter say she would be here?” I called from the hallway. My wife and I had planned, canceled, replanned, and almost had to cancel again our date night. We were determined to succeed.

Two children in the first five years of marriage was the equivalent of couple time being vacuumed away with a “whoosh.” We made married date nights our answer.

“Here are the numbers of the places we will be tonight.” Kathy handed a paper to Jennifer.

“Have fun,” she said with Amie on her hip and Kyle running back inside. We waved until turning the corner. Not far away from home, I stopped the car in a parking lot. We sat in silence, decompressing, until we finally began talking. We talked about everything. Date nights became about reconnecting.

Two more children and opportunities for the children to be picked up by adoring grandparents made stay-at-home dates our favorites.

There were dates when Kathy lovingly prepared meals for two. Other times, I rented a movie from Blockbuster and picked up a pizza. We enjoyed the food and laughed at the movies, but most dates were soon taken over by a close embrace and the buzz of the television in the background. We treasured being together, just the two of us.

We are empty nesters now, and we still date. We go to favorite spots, hold hands, talk about everything under the sun, and even dream about our future together. Connecting and reconnecting is essential to all relationships.

Kathy just emailed: “I don’t have homework! Stream a movie tonight?” I smile. I think I’ll pick up pizza.

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