By Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss
As we head into the depths of winter, there is a tendency for the winter blues to set in. The frigid cold and short span of sunlight tends to bring this on for many people.
While the best remedy for melancholy is certainly Torah and mitzvahs, it is also a good time to create special moments with your spouse. Here are some tips to ensure that such attempts are successful.
1. Dress according to your spouse’s taste. On this evening, you are dressing for your mate, not yourself!
2. Before you go out, prepare some topics to speak about. This way there won’t be some stretches of silence that might make you feel you don’t have much to do with each other!
3. Steer clear of sore subjects. This is an evening to have a special time and NOT to negotiate! Thus, stay clear of such topics as: When are we remodeling the kitchen? Or, why can’t there be less screaming? Or, when are we going to pay-off the butcher’s bill? etc.
4. Children and grandchildren are fine subject matter. Just make sure you stay away from argumentative topics such as: Why don’t you learn with your son? Or, I wish you’d be home more for the kids, etc.
5. Don’t monopolize the conversation with the topic of your work. This is an evening to get away from work!
6. Without pressing demands, it’s nice to dream together about things you’d like to do together one day. Speaking about a trip, a vacation, or a special project is enjoyable.
7. If going out is a rare luxury, don’t be frugal. In this spirit, don’t park five blocks away from the restaurant so that your wife will need to walk in her evening clothes just to save money on parking.
8. Similarly, each of you should choose what you really like to eat, and not what you think you can share, or what you think you will save money on. Remember, your aim is to give your spouse the nicest time possible!
9. If you see other couples you know, be polite but don’t fraternize with them. This is a rare opportunity, away from the home, for some private time exclusively shared by the two of you. Don’t risk hurting your spouse with the implication that you’d rather converse with others more than with him or her!
10. Make sure the children are properly cared for so that you’re not a nervous wreck thinking about them throughout the entire evening.
11. Shut off your beeper and cell phone. If possible, even a Hatzolah member should try to sign-off for these few hours (your wife deserves it!).
12. Make sure you pick a time when you won’t feel rushed. Thus, make sure to have davened Mincha already, and plan on attending a late minyan for Maariv. You can even plan so that you don’t have to get up early the next day!
13. Of course, don’t eat shortly beforehand or you’ll sit there saying you’re not hungry. Similarly, be well rested so you won’t hurt your spouse by yawning throughout the evening!
14. Definitely, a special evening is not the time to discourage your mate away from dessert because of his or her diet! Let this go, just this once.
15. Do not, under any circumstances, make your spouse feel you are anxious to leave! This can ruin a beautiful evening.
16. Don’t fight about the tip! Avoid comments like, “You’re so stingy” or “Stop throwing money away” or even worse “With strangers you all of a sudden give freely!” Don’t complain how expensive the meal is!
17. Be liberal with compliments throughout the evening. Comments such as, “You look ravishing this evening,” or “You really run a beautiful home,” or “The kids are so lucky to have you as a Mother/Father,” or “I feel so secure with the way you handle the finances,” or “I was really smart to marry you,” make the evening even more memorable and meaningful!
18. Tell your spouse what a good time you’re having, and afterward, repeat what a good time you had. This is so important for your mate to hear!
19. Be expansive in your appreciation of the money spent on the evening. (Don’t take it for granted!)
20. Finally, make time to go out occasionally! The Torah calls the special obligation between husband and wife ‘Onah.’ Simply translated this means TIME. Especially at the frenetic pace we live, we need to find time to foster the bonds between ourselves.
If we aren’t vigilant, the routine and grind of daily life threaten to erode the spirit of marriage and replace it with dullness and boredom. Dining out is one way (there are many others) to rejuvenate the animation of our marriage.
May Hashem bless us all with long life, good health, harmony at home, and everything wonderful!
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