When I was a little girl, I snuggled in my mother's sheared beaver coat, watching her put the finishing touches on her make-up and spraying her beehive hairdo into place. Somehow, in those few minutes, she transformed herself from my familiar Mom into someone exciting and alluring. I reluctantly relinquished her soft fur coat and proceeded to watch as my father gallantly held it for her. Then they both disappeared into the night -- with a smile on their lips and their arms entwined. I sensed there was something special going on but I didn't know quite what it was.
By the time I was 16, I had started to figure it out. My Saturdays were filled with washing and rolling my hair in jumbo rollers and plastering down my bangs with Dippity Doo. Then off to the local dime store in the new shopping center I went to buy bobby pins, eyebrow pencil and lip frost to add to my stash of cheap cosmetic wonders. Wearing those big plastic rollers to the shopping center was a status symbol in those days, announcing to the world that you had a "real" date that night.
Nothing was more invigorating than my boyfriend pulling up to my house in his GTO convertible, with a full tank of gas in his car, his entire allowance in his wallet and a whole evening to ourselves -- no parents, no pesky little brothers, no teachers, no homework or practices -- just us. The feeling of freedom, abandonment, contentment and the sheer pleasure of being alive and with someone you adored was a feeling that was indelibly stamped in the memory of my 16th and 17th year. Saturday night became an unspoken dance between my boyfriend and I, representing a celebration of life's promises.
When my freshman year at college proved to be a disappointment and my boyfriend from high school started dating a girl from Cleveland, my Saturday nights in the dorm were spent in the Study Lounge watching the headlights of cars carrying other couples out on their dates. I missed the glorious feeling of having someone special to go out with and someone special to be with on Saturday nights.
I transferred universities and my sophomore and junior years at the University of Florida were filled with Saturday night parties in smoke-filled frat houses dancing to music that was too loud and with boys that were too drunk. And although there was no one special in my life for many months, the promise of a Saturday night with someone I would adore continued to fill me with yearning and anticipation.
When I later married and had two children and found that my husband and I didn't have the magic of a dynamic relationship, my feelings about Saturday night became shrouded in sadness. We had the economic means, the sitter, the time and the opportunity, but the chemistry between the two of us only emphasized for me that he was not the one I wanted to spend that magic night with because Saturday nights have always been special.
I met my second husband on a Saturday night. I fell in love with him on a Saturday night and I married him on a Saturday night.
Over the years of our marriage, he and I have partied on Saturday nights, gone to movies and plays on Saturday nights, and went out to countless dinners on Saturday nights. We've spent Saturday nights with friends, family, children and parents, strangers and acquaintances. But, by far, the best Saturday nights we have ever spent have been the Saturday nights we have spent with just each other.
Experts say there is no substitute for shared quality couple time -- simply making uninterrupted time to be together -- without kids, pets, in-laws, and bosses. And that the bond you form during those sacred times will help you over the challenging hurdles life inevitably presents. The experts are right.
For my husband and I, Saturday nights became fence-mending nights -- nights to touch, reconnect, revitalize and re-establish our personal bond with each other. We left behind thoughts of our babies, our toddlers, our youngsters and our teen-agers. We forgot that we had car seats in the rear and cookie crumbs all over the back seat floor.
I became domestically unwired. I forgave my husband for not cleaning up after himself, not using the shoe trees I bought him and the belt rack I hung up for him.
He unhinged his entrepreneurial harness. He forgave me for being snippy, distracted, and disinterested in his newest real estate endeavor. And too focused on the mounds of dirty laundry and the cluttered pantry shelves.
Somehow my husband always looked a little more handsome, moved a little more gracefully and spoke a little more forcefully -- on Saturday night. And somehow, I always dressed a little more demurely, spoke a little more softly and moved a little more slowly -- on Saturday night. The wine was sweeter, the coffee richer and the food tastier on Saturday night.
And on those rare Saturday nights that the tension didn't melt away and we carried the rigors of the work week to the enclave of Saturday night, we woke up Sunday morning feeling deprived and out-of-sorts. I cried while he fumed, because we had spoiled a potentially wonderful and soul-satisfying Saturday night.
So we learned to breathe deeply and let go. We left the sorrows of the week on the back yard swing. We left the pressures of the future on the front porch steps. Knowingly, and with great effort, we kept Saturday nights special. I guess that's why they still are.
So, how do you keep your marriage special and vibrant?
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