As our daughters pick up Maturation Momentum and hurtle toward adulthood, I’ve grown increasingly panicky. That’s why I follow my husband around the house every weekend saying, “What’s Our Thing going to be?”
You know, the Thing? The Thing you did together with your partner, before you had kids? That Thing you talked about together when you weren’t at work, maybe planned for, looked forward to together?
We had a lot of Things, back in the day. We went to JazzFest in New Orleans every year. We watched football. We sought out good Chinese food and barbeque. We shopped for really expensive eyeglass frames. All those things were part of our Relationship.
And then we had kids, and our Thing became The Kids. Talking about them, thinking about them, thinking about talking about them. Of course we still have a Relationship that is separate from our kids, but it is squeezed to the margins of the Thing that is The Kids, like a border frame on an Instagram photo. Marital therapists would probably counsel against having The Kids become The Thing in order to keep The Relationship healthy, but most parents I know have taken the same route, at least temporarily. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. And besides, The Kids are pretty awesome.
Still, they’re leaving home in three and six years respectively. And as I talked about in my last post, they’re getting busy enough in the meantime that we are getting long glimpses into the empty frame that could be all that’s left of The Relationship. Hence, the “What’s Our Thing” game show host routine to which I subject my husband, a line of inquiry which leads him to look like he’d rather be having his gums scraped.
“It could be photography!” I say. “We could take a class together!” Like I’m ever going to use anything besides my iPhone to take pictures from here on out.
“College football could be Our Thing!” I say. “We used to watch it, remember?” Remember how I pretended to like football when we first started dating only because I knew you did? Remember when we watched it as newlyweds because we lived in DC and it was winter and there was so much snow that we couldn’t go outside so we might as well watch it? Remember how I sat down to watch football with you on the last three Saturdays, and I lasted about 32 seconds before I thought of something I wanted to look up on the computer in my office, and how I never came back?
“We could walk the dog together every evening!” I say. Is that enough of a Thing to sustain a marriage? I doubt it. Achilles thinks it could work.
“We could watch The Wire together!” I say. Problem: I can’t stomach graphic tv violence. Bigger problem: my husband downloaded Season 1 to his iPad about a month ago, and is currently consuming the entire series like a starving man who’s just been pointed to a buffet. That Thing has already left the station.
“Travel! Travel will be our thing!” We both agree that travel à deux could be our thing, but there isn’t really time to do it while the children are still living at home. Then, once they leave for college, there won’t be money. So, put a pin in that one for a while.
So while we’re still looking for Our Thing, I obviously Got My Own Thing (sing it, Liz Phair.) It’s Worrying About Our Thing.
But wait! There’s hope! As I was putting the final touches on this post, I was contacted by a company called HowAboutWe…for Couples. The company’s service started off as a dating site but now targets couples, offering all kinds of cool dates tailored for two. From screen printing classes to paddleboard lessons on the Bay to a beer making class at a Brew Lab, the company makes it easy to try some new Things with your partner.
Membership costs $18/month (discounts apply if you sign up for longer memberships) and that gets you one free date a month, plus deals on everything else and access to a concierge who will help you plan something special. As I’m writing this, there are really good date deals on both a Drake show and a Flaming Lips show, and a class on how to use a saber to open a bottle of champagne. THAT would be a cool Thing. “Sorry we can’t come to dinner at your house on Saturday, we’ll be going Zorro all over the champagne bottles at a local wedding reception. We also do bar mitzvahs, here’s our card.”
And one Midlife Mixtape reader is going to win a free year’s membership to HowAboutWe…for Couples, a $140 value! Just leave a comment and let me know your dream date with your partner, and I’ll choose a winner using Random.org next Tuesday, 11/5 at 5 pm PST. (Right now the company operates in NYC, Seattle, Chicago and San Francisco, so you probably want to be in those cities to enter.) In the meantime, if you’re impatient like me, you can get $50 off a membership right away by clicking on this link.
So get commenting! And by the way, no promotional consideration was given for this post. I just wanted to give one of my loyal readers the chance to find a new Thing. While we flail around figuring out ours.