My Tips For a Flexible Relationship, Plus a ‘Date Night In’ Idea!
In the first episode of The Flexible Life, I met with a really awesome couple named Nani and Dan. From the second I met them, I could tell that they loved and respected each other deeply – they’ve built a wonderful life together, complete with a beautiful home and great kids. As we chatted about some of their pain points, like getting organized and eating more healthfully, something else bubbled to the surface.
Nani gushed openly about what an incredible father Dan is, but admitted that she longed to see him invest that same degree of intentionality and effort into their marriage – like taking her on date nights out on the town. But to Dan, the more introverted of the pair, this felt like a pretty steep ask. His version of a great night? Staying in and enjoying the normal rhythms of their day-to-day lives.
My job, then, was to show them how to have a flexible relationship – in other words, a relationship that’s rooted in their core values, boundaries, and expectations of one another but also allows space for the natural wiggle room of give and take. And with many couples now planning monthly date nights, I thought this would be the perfect time to share with you some of my tips for a flexible relationship, plus how to set up a super easy but sweet date night at home.
Nani and Dan shared an important detail with me: their day-to-day lives are spent in really close proximity to one another! They live together, work from home together, parent together, eat together, sleep together… The list goes on. And while this closeness can be such a beautiful, fortifying thing for a relationship, I quickly realized that Nani and Dan never really have time to miss each other. If you’re in a similar spot with your significant other, try to embrace that age-old adage that “distance makes the heart grow fonder.” A little intentional time apart, be it an afternoon where you do separate errands or a weekend where you head out of town with the girls, can be a crucial reset button. This small-scale distance allows for you and yours to miss each other, think about each other, and feel excitement when you’re reunited.
…But Also Embrace Togetherness!
As with most things in life, moderation and balance are key to satisfaction. So it’s important to temper that distance with intentional, attentive togetherness. I sensed that it was this kind of meaningful one-on-one time that Nani was craving. Just like with Nani and Dan, your partner’s love language might be quality time and yours isn’t – maybe you feel most loved when they do little errands for you or sweep you up in a hug. It’s totally ok to not be perfectly aligned here, but part of a flexible relationship is loving your partner in ways that feel natural to you and making the effort to show them love in ways they prefer, too.
Meet in the Middle
Having a flexible relationship means being so grounded in your core guiding principles that you’re able to veer a little off course here and there because you can gently return to your center each time. So for you and yours, that core principle in your relationship probably has something to do with your enduring love and respect for each other. And because you’re both so firmly rooted in that mutual love, you’re able to give and take in a natural, gentle, reciprocal rhythm.
For Nani and Dan, this means finding an ebb and flow of date nights in (what makes Dan most comfortable) and date nights out (what Nani longs for). As a catalyst, I helped Dan set up a little date night at home to surprise Nani and see first-hand how soul-nourishing that intentional one-on-one time can be! Below are some of my tips for planning a casual but super special date night at home.
Plan the Perfect Date Night In – for Valentine’s Day (or any time of year)
- Consider your partner’s love language. If it’s words of affirmation, jot down on paper a few things you appreciate about them, and incorporate the note with the table setting.
- Carve out some alone time! (This is big.) If you have kids, try to arrange for them to hang at a friend’s house or plan your date for when you know they’re at sports practice.
- Set aside a space for your date. Whether you sweep off the outdoor patio and light the fire pit or set the dinner table with nice plates, choose a space where the two of you can connect.
- Eat together! I’m a huge believer in food’s power to bring people together. There’s something so sacred about sharing a really good meal with someone you love – and bonus points if you cook it together, too! I helped Nani prep my family-style adobo chicken to share with Dan, and it was a total hit.
- Set the mood. Light a candle, turn on the string lights, light the fireplace – whatever you’re able to do to create a romantic atmosphere. At the very least, turn off the overhead lighting and turn on the table lamps for a softer glow.
It’s always important to set aside some time and space to connect with your love!