“What do you think it is?” I asked Gabe as we talked about the lack of connection we had both been feeling lately.
“I’m not sure.” He replied solemnly and with an exhausted sigh.
Our marriage had been moving smoothly just a couple weeks before this conversation. In fact we were better than smooth. On a recent trip away I had a moment standing next to my husband where I felt that there was no one else I would rather be with. I squeezed his hand a little tighter, looked up at his face and said, “You’re my favorite person.” “You’re mine too.” He said.
Then we came home and life settled back into a hectic routine. Even though we were only gone two days it seemed like it took us two weeks to get back into a rhythm.
“I’d like to think it’s because we haven’t had a date night in two weeks.” I said sort of jokingly. For one reason or another we pushed our at home date night’s aside. Well, I know the reasons. One of the weeks we went out on an actual go-out-of-the-house-date – to a fundraising dinner with a bit of schmoozing that I’m so terrible at. It was a wonderful evening of great food and wine for a cause that we both feel passionate about. And the other reason I hesitate to even mention because it’s ridiculous and almost a little too honest, even for me. But the truth is that I felt ahead on the book, you know, the one I’m writing about the importance of dating my husband. So I spent that week retesting a few recipes but never had an actual date night. The truth is, the book is keeping me incredibly accountable to actually dating my husband, which is an incredible gift but when I felt ahead on the book as a project, I failed to make our date night the priority it needs to be.
We had been going through our days feeling like the other would rather not have the other around. Little biting comments filled our conversation and pulled us further apart. But that night I was planning a date. A little reluctantly as I didn’t want to continue to face our awkward and at times painful conversations. When we let too much time slip in between the dates it is sometimes hard to establish that routine again but we did it.
Sitting down to dinner our conversation was like starting up an old car. It chugged, sputtered and smoked before the engine revved and purred. We cleared the table of our dishes then settled back onto the couch where we continued to talk until 1 am. It was a great conversation but that’s not really the point. We just talked, connected and felt like best friends again. I chose him over sleep the way I used to when we were dating and staying up way too late just to be near one another.
I fell asleep in his arms feeling hopeful and incredibly connected to him.
“It really does work.” I said to him the next morning.
“Our date nights.”
Of course I know they are good for us and I know that I enjoy indulging in the food that accompanies our date nights at home but to see us go from weeks of frustrating disconnection and feeling distant and against one another then after one night feeling completely connected - well, it gave me even more passion for the book we’re creating.
So this week, even though our date night falls on the night America will be blowing things up and we’ll be driving 4 hours in a day to celebrate the blowing up of things with my family, and photo shoots, hanging out with friends and all the other stuff that fills up a week, I knew we needed a date. I kept it simple, which I’m not always known to do. We put the kids to bed in our too hot house and made ourselves a drink – well, more like a dessert/drink hybrid.
He plopped a still soft scoop of nectarine sorbet into my glass and splashed the bourbon and lemon juice that pooled in the bottom of the cup onto the table. Immediately the rose colored sorbet began to melt into the drink infusing the bourbon with its fragrant sweetness. Little specks of vanilla bean floated to the top while Gabe twisted a ragged piece of lemon peel over the glass misting it with a citrusy and floral perfume. I quickly snapped a few pictures of our cocktail before I whisked it off the table to enjoy it and my husband while the evening sun, still warm, set behind our neighbor’s house.
When we build the date nights into our weekly routine I find us eager to seize other opportunities to connect. A drink in the evening with my husband becomes a moment to build on intimacy. Even quick conversations throughout the day become easier and help build on our friendship. We send one another texts throughout the day – pictures of the kids, funny things we see, or just checking in on the other. Little things that add up to big things in the course of a lifetime together.
At the root of it all we both desire to be one another’s person. He wants to see me as his best friend and I long for him to be the one that I want to hang out with if given a choice of anyone. And when we both feel that then we are happy in the marriage. If something feels off it’s so often because our friendship is off.
The point is, these nights work. Dating your husband, your wife, whoever you doing life with, really works. I’ve seen it again and again in our marriage and the more I date my husband the more excited and passionate I become to spread this message. I feel like that 90 year-old juice fanatic, “If it works for me it can work for you.” And I guess I’m okay with that because we’re talking about marriages and relationships here – it’s a big deal. Just as we strive to feed our bodies foods that nourish and help our bodies thrive we need to feed the friendship in our marriages.
A relationship is built on friendship and friendship takes time. If you want to have a good friend you have to make the time.. If you want to be a good friend, that takes time too. And if there happens to be a bit a bourbon alongside that friendship building, well, I’m okay with that.
Bourbon Float with Nectarine Sorbet
It turns out Gabe and I have a thing for cocktails. The original plan for the book was to include a few but we just can’t stop ourselves. We are just having too much fun coming up with new ideas and all the “research” that goes along with that. This is one of our current favorites. Seattle is experiencing a bit of a heat wave currently and this grown-up float/slushie-type drink does good work of chasing away the heat. If you prefer peaches you can easily swap those in. I was also thinking plum might be nice.
If bourbon isn’t for you, go ahead and make the sorbet anyway. It’s good one to have around. The presence of alcohol in the sorbet is needed to prevent the sorbet from freezing too firm but you can use something other than bourbon if you prefer.
2 pounds (4-5) nectarines, pitted
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 vanilla bean, split
2 tablespoons bourbon (or other alcohol)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
In a small saucepan combine the brown sugar, water and vanilla bean and bring to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Carefully stir in the bourbon and cook for 30 seconds more before removing from the heat. Set aside to cool for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean (wash it off and set it in your sugar container to flavor your sugar with vanilla).
Puree the nectarines in a food processor. Carefully add the warm sugar syrup, lemon juice, zest and salt.
Strain this mixture and chill.
Process in your ice cream machine according to the instructions.
If this is destined for a cocktail you could just use the puree to flavor it or stick it in a freezer-safe container in the freezer and drag a fork all over the surface every 20 minutes or so. After a few hours you will have a fluffy granita which would make for a great bourbon slushie.
For the cocktail:
Place 1 1/2 ounces of bourbon in your cup along with 1-2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice. Add 1 scoop of sorbet to the cup and finish with a splash of club soda. Twist a piece of lemon peel over the cup before gingerly tossing it in. Enjoy. Preferably outside with someone who you are quite fond of.