One of the things my wife and I have taken to doing lately is going out for coffee on Saturday mornings. We get up around 7:30 and head over to the Steaming Cup, a local coffee shop about 6 blocks from home. In the summer months, we would even go to the Waukesha Farmer's Market afterward and buy produce. Now that it's winter, we just go for coffee and a cinnamon roll. What once started on a whim, has become our ritual and I have grown to love it for a number of reasons.
First and foremost is it gives us the chance to talk uninterrupted for an hour or so. We could probably do the same thing at home, because the kids usually sleep in on Saturday AM, but it wouldn't be the same. When you're home, the appliances beckon. Projects beckon. Technology beckons. When you're at coffee none of that is a factor. Even our phones don't come out until it's time to go home. Getting uninterrupted time used to be a bigger deal when the kids were smaller and pulling us in all directions, but it's not as much anymore. Still it's nice to be alone.
Another thing that's key for me, especially as an attention-challenged male, is I am able to listen without distraction. This is something I have been working on for some time. I'm not sure why we tend to start tuning people out after living with them for 20 years, but I know that I'm guilty of it. We take people for granted, usually the ones we love the most, and suddenly they're not worthy of 100% of our attention. (And I'm not saying this is just a male trait either. Though I sincerely think women are better listeners.)
We talk about everything under the sun at coffee. Things like work issues, friends we know and what they're going through, dreams we have of travel, upcoming events etc. It is totally one-on-one good face time. I realize when I listen to her I look at her mouth instead of her eyes, and I'm not sure what that's all about. It may have something to do with lip reading but I can't be sure.
We always finish the conversation by discussing the coming week. Getting a quick overview of kids' schedules, work schedules and anything else is key for me. While Donna plans things out a month or two in advance, I have a much shorter timeline I work with, and a week ahead is about it.
Donna and I used to do a similar thing back when we lived on the east side of Milwaukee. Life as a married couple with no kids was much simpler then, but one of our rituals was to go out for pie and coffee at Baker's Square on Capitol Drive. We were blind in love at the time and considered shopping our date night. When you're in love, goofy stuff like that happens. Well, I came to really like those dates and we even had a favorite waitress (Irene) that was part of it all. Of course, we moved to Waukesha and never really resumed the practice.
While I realize that this arrangement works for us, I understand that it may not work for everyone. Schedules are busy, weekends get booked, etc. At the same time, I highly recommend it. I said to a friend that it gets us both on the same page because, by Friday night, its almost like we're not even in the same book. Its our way of telling each other we're important and you can't knock that.