Not Without Salt

Date Night In: Smoky Fish Tacos

* I’m thrilled to introduce you to a partnership I’m especially proud of and excited about. Chateau St. Jean Winery in Sonoma contacted us several months ago after seeing our book, Date Night In. They loved the concept and I think it was pretty clear to them that Gabe and I are not only fans of dating each other but we also love wine. It’s a natural pair. Throughout the Fall and through Spring I will be bringing back the original series that inspired my first cookbook; Date Night In. I am so excited to share with you more stories about marriage and the intentionality needed to keep it going, stunning recipes with wine pairings, and beautiful videos shot by my brother, Chris Baron. Very special thanks to Chateau St. Jean for sponsoring this series.

Over five years ago Gabe and I started dating in. Then our kids were 5, 3, and too young to even have a number. We were deep in the parenting gig; changing diapers, scraping stale cheerios off the floor, and bandaging scraped knees multiples times a day. By the end of the day we’d congratulate ourselves for surviving and then retreat to our own corners until we fell asleep. Yes, we were surviving but as a couple, as a team, we weren’t thriving. And some seasons that’s really all you can do. When you bring a newborn home from the hospital I wouldn’t attempt much more than feeding yourself and your baby but as months passed and our newborn started to crawl and then walk and then beat up her brothers, we knew we couldn’t pass through this entire season without making a serious effort to connect in a deep and meaningful way.

If you’ve been a long time reader of the blog (thank you, I adore you!) or if you have the book (you’re the best!) then you know the story. You know that our exhaustion turned into a commitment to continue to date. One night a week, after the kids were in bed Gabe and I would turn on some music, change our spit-up covered shirts (maybe) and sit at our table to a meal I prepared (Gabe was in charge of bedtime and wine pouring) and then date one another. What was once deemed a consolation prize to actually going out on a real date turned out to be our preferred method of dating. We loved the privacy, the ease and the comfort we felt in our own home. These fun, intimate evenings took a marriage of roommates and turned it into one of intimacy, joy, and growth.

The other day this email landed in my inbox:

“Thanks for reminding my wife and me how we need to slow down and enjoy ourselves like we used to. Life had tired us out and we kept putting off “us” for another time. Hopefully, we can keep this in sight from now on.”

I keep reading that phrase “Life had tired us out” because yes, life does that doesn’t it? No matter the stage, the season, if you have kids or if you don’t, life is exhausting. You can’t wait for a time when you aren’t tired from life to invest in your relationship – you just have to do it. Gabe and I turned our date nights into a cookbook and collection of narratives and I am continually so encouraged by emails like this of others starting to date again and seeing the amazing benefits to their relationship.

Our date nights don’t look like they did even two years ago when the book came out. And that’s okay. Now that our kids are in school sometimes Gabe and I will take ourselves out to brunch or we’ll cook lunch here. When the weather allows it we’ll pop in a movie for the kids while the two of us head outside to the grill and enjoy some fish tacos. Our date nights change and evolve just like we do but their importance remains the same. Whatever we do, wherever we are in life we need to stay connected, we need to remind ourselves that we are one unit made up of two individuals – a living breathing being that needs to be fed and nurtured in order to thrive.