Date Night in Quarantine
Keeping the magic alive while stuck home together 24/7 isn’t easy, but it is possible, argues Nova Reid
When that clock struck midnight at the turn of an exciting new decade and you made a new year’s resolution to spend more quality time together, I bet you weren’t quite expecting this!
On paper, enforced downtime might sound nice. But in reality, spending your every waking minute with your beloved will either feel like Christmas or leave you on the verge of filing for divorce.
Heightened emotions and a huge change in routine, coupled with what feels like relentless uncertainty and lack of variety, means you’re more than likely going to take each other for granted and forget to nurture your relationship.
That’s not surprising – but it is something we should be trying to avoid, argue relationship therapists and co-founders of The Love Brunch, Monique and Nailah. “We are all feeling a little more anxious than normal, and this could have an effect on the way we receive and respond to our loved ones that we are at home with.
“Stress has a way of magnifying challenges that ordinarily might not bother us under normal circumstances, and can prevent communication from flowing effectively. Being switched on and present means that we have more awareness of how we are feeling and will be better equipped to communicate with others. Good communication means being patient. It also means being more empathetic with the way we communicate so that our words don’t get lost in frustration”.
Finding a way to ease into this new, albeit temporary, normal will be vital to helping you find ways to connect in a more meaningful way, find joy in the mundane (oh yes, there will be plenty of that), spice things up and avoid complacency.
Here are eight tips from those in it for the long haul to help you stay connected without blowing a gasket – and get creative with date night ideas over the coming weeks.
Eulanda and Omo, the founders of Dip Your Toes In, have been together for eight years and recommend filmmaking for an injection of fun in isolation. “Create your own silly movie script and film it using Tik Tok or an alternative,” they suggest. “Edit the clips together using an editing app and then grab some popcorn and watch your masterpiece! We had so much fun, and laughed for hours.”
Nathalie, the owner of ButtercupBus, has been married to her husband Alec for 12 years. A devoted lover of campervans, she says they love to enjoy romantic picnics in their own driveway – but a garden, balcony, or even your own living room floor could do the job just fine. “Grab your hamper basket, put on some music and just enjoy each other’s company,” she says. “Remove all tech and have a digital detox while you’re at it – it’s a great way to escape from it all”
Why not go all out for a dinner date for two, as suggested by wedding photographer Amy? “Go all out,” she says. “Set and dress the table. Make cinema tickets, create a written menu and cocktail list and draw up signs for different rooms in the house – one for a cocktail bar and one for ‘Screen 1’. I can’t take credit for this,” she clarifies. “One of my brides-to-be came up with this idea when she invited her fiancé to an indoor date night.”
Got small humans making life at home noisy and messy? Entertain them as well as yourselves by enlisting them in your plan, say Jo and Guille of Viva La Zoom, who have three children after 16 years together. “Get them to cook for you then let them be your waiters so you can enjoy a candlelit dinner. I’m not going to lie – it will be incredibly stressful to prepare,” laughs Jo, “but you could see it as more of an extension of home education! Teach them to make you your favourite aperitif or G&T, or show them how to pour wine like a sommelier. We used to do it for my parents when we were kids and it was a lot of fun!”
Liv, the founder of Patchwork, who has been married to Laurie for longer than she can remember, and created Cards on The Table to help couples spice up their conversation, go deep on the big questions and have some fun. Originally designed for couples planning a wedding to help them get to know each other better, they’re also the perfect date night game for couples stuck in together. “Carving out time to talk when you’ve been in the same space together all day is quite difficult,” admits Liv. “When you’re stuck in, it’s unlikely you’ve got ‘new news’ to share, so it can help to structure a conversation, but not in a wanky way. Playing a quickfire Q&A game is perfect. All you need is a drink, some crisps and your pack of cards and you’re sorted. What we’ve found is that you start playing cards because that’s the game, but really that’s just the excuse for the really interesting bit – the conversation. We actually ended up returning to play over a few nights because some evenings a question sparked off such an interesting conversation that it took the whole evening for us to properly explore it.” So yes talking – but with a proper plan and some prompts. “Otherwise sex. Obviously. Or Succession!” she adds.
Brush up your general knowledge in a virtual pub quiz. My husband and I would never do these IRL, but we LOVE the one hosted by comparison coach and author of The Comparison Cure, Lucy Sheridan. Grab your notepads and your favourite tipple and join her every Friday from 7:30pm UK on Instagram Live. You’re guaranteed to giggle and wind each other up whilst getting social with others too. The Mr and I find it absolutely hilarious laughing at how little we both know – apart from 90’s R&B and musicals, of course.
Restrict your news intake and escape instead by taking a virtual tour of your favourite gallery or museum. Or why not get your theatre fix and enjoy live streaming from some of the world’s most popular productions – with everyone currently going digital, the offering online is huge, from ballet to the National Theatre.
Lovebirds Monique and Nailah also suggest having a spa evening, only at home. “If you have a small living space and/or kids, this can be a challenge,” the couple admit. But “after you’ve put the kids to bed, a great way to relax and unwind could be offering each other a face massage. The muscles in our faces hold a great deal of stress, particularly the jaw, temples and forehead. A face massage will prepare you both for bed, releasing any built-up tension and preparing you for a relaxed and restful night. This activity is great for couples who enjoy physical touch.”
One last thing – before you go on your date, get dressed. It’s easy to roll out of bed into a day in your dressing gown right now (no judgement), or comfy scruffs with old paint on them over your ‘inside underpants’ (you know you own them). But before you know it, it’s your date night. Not sexy.
Part of the enjoyment of having a date night is making the effort to get dressed up – and just because you’re dating at home doesn’t mean you can’t take the same joy in that as you would if you were going out. It can instantly change your state. Enjoy – and get creative!
Nova Reid is founder of Nu Bride, an anti-racism campaigner and professional speaker who offers consultancy, workshops and online anti-racism courses. With humility and humour, she uses her professional background in mental health to encourage curiosity and collective healing to dismantle racism from the inside out.