So You Want to Date a Chef: Date Night!

En route to Beast!

My fiancee, Jessica, has written another instalment of her series, So You Want to Date a Chef. Be sure to check out the previous posts in the series, as well as her blog and website.

Living with your partner often means you have chances to connect with them intermittently throughout the day. Although I am not currently married, I have often heard the advice that it’s important to “date” your husbands and wives. Carve out a period of time each week, a standing invitation, to spend quality time together. When I first heard this, I felt my relationship with my chef would benefit from a structured event like a date, punctuating our usually chaotic routine. At most of the jobs Greg has had during our relationship, there has been very little warning regarding his upcoming days off, requested time off, and working extra hours.

One of Greg’s most recent jobs was a bistro which closed its doors every Sunday. Apart from occasional, supplemental catering duties, Greg was often guaranteed to have the day of rest away from work. But this Sunday preceeded the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (arguably the busiest days at the resto) and meant that it was largely considered a recovery day. Although we both had that “day off,” Greg was not always up for the fun, amazing, couple-type plans we would concoct days earlier. By the time Sunday did role around, he was exhausted, over-committed, and guilty. Knowing that he could commit to mundane tasks like errands and chores on Sundays also meant he had to balance whether he wanted to be productive and tired, in love and tired, or well-rested and bitter he had missed out on Sunday’s spoils.

Having a dedicated date night is incredibly tricky, but through a lot of trial and error we have found some of the ways to make it benefit our lifestyle. For those of you looking to spend quality time with your chef, whether your live together or not, here are some of the advantages to having a dedicated date night:

  1. Date Night ensures time together, one-on-one.
  2. Date Night removes the pressure of unscheduled free time. “I finished work early! Let’s hang out!” This may seem pretty obvious, but do not let the surface advantages outweigh the deeper issues: Without dedicated time together, it is difficult not to see all of your time together as precious. While this is a lovely sentiment, it can cause pressure within the emotional boundaries of two people. Simply being in the same room as the other person can mean that there is unintentional pressure to dedicate your time to them, because you know in the back of your mind that your time together is so fleeting.“When will a chance like this come up again?” This way of thinking can push people together when they need to be alone, or force an exhausted chef to wake up earlier, or go to bed later, than his body is physically ready to.
  3. Date Night encourages clear communication. Currently, Greg’s work schedule is crunched into 4 consecutive days. We are very lucky in that we have a regularly scheduled day, each week, when we can plan our weekly Date Night. We didn’t always have this luxury, so for those of you that still don’t, I would suggest taking it week by week. This week it might be Tuesday, next week it might be Friday. Be as realistic as you can. On a day of rest and relaxation, you may think you can fit in a date on your middle-of-the-crunch Wednesday. Take the temperature of your hypothetical commitments again when you’ve just finished service. Gage how tired you are, how daunting the next few days of service feels, and let your partner know. You may need that day to recover, instead. This is a chance to be honest with yourself as well as your 9-5 ball and chain.
  4. Date Night does not require a budget. We certainly try to budget for fun activities outside of the home for our date nights. But we found out (the hard way) our time together did not require money passing hands at every turn. Initially we were so wrapped up in our definition of a “date” that we often pushed off these events, fearing our imminent bankruptcy. Date nights are meant to be a fun bonding experience, not to bleed you dry. It took us a long time to realize that watching a movie on Netflix ($8 monthly subscription fee), buying armfuls of candy ($20 if you’re gluttons like us), or reading together by the lake ($0 if you bought the book in high school) were all valid activities to participate in.
  5. Date Nights are your chance to reinvent the terms. A date can be a penniless affair of card games and answering cheesy online surveys together. A date could also mean dropping $120 on a chic little bistro downtown. Especially for those who are engaged or married, redefining the terms of what it means to date someone is a liberating experience. Unless you plan on acquiring a mistress or sexual liaison, this is the only person you’ll be dating. Popular culture tells us that for many, this is seen as a horrifying trap. But for those of us who have embraced the commitment it takes to be in a long-term relationship (of various legal standings) it is moments like these that depict freedom and choice. If you are a particularly flush couple, and want date nights to involve the finest bottle of Moet every time, go for it! If you’re saving up for a house together, make/take/share surveys about dream locations. If you’re doing well this quarter and want to break up the usual routine of card games and movie rentals in your pajamas, hit the town and cause a scene for one night! And then go back to frugal activities that look like your ideal of “dates.”

When you’re single, dating is often defined in collaboration with the people you’re meeting for coffee or seeing for dinner. Now that you’re in a relationship with your chef, who is one of the busiest, poorly scheduled, and exhausted workers going, you can both take ownership of the dating game.

Jessica is a word-writing, picture-taking equestrian with a penchant for good books, steeped tea, and innovative design. Find out how to work with her!

Cassie & Jeremiah's Wedding 2013

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