I am on a mission to make sure that the traditional family dinner doesn’t become a thing of the past. Why? Because I believe that eating dinner together (or any meal, for that matter – but we’ll get to that in a minute!) is a fundamental part of building and maintaining a relationship.
My and Kyle’s first date was to Chili’s, where we got to know each other over buffalo chicken sandwiches and sweet tea. Our get-to-know-you’s have continued over thousands of meals over the last ten years. After dating long distance for nearly six years, being able to sit down at the dinner table together on a random Tuesday night has been one of our favorite parts of married life. Because I want to share the dining love, it’s also our tenth hint for a happy marriage: Eat Dinner Together!
Conversations shared over plates of lasagna, without distractions, are my favorite.
I love to cook and Kyle loves to eat. This arrangement works out great for us. However, I happen to know that John does the cooking in the Thomas household. No matter who cooks — takeout is also an option! — the goal is sitting down at the dinner table to share a meal and conversation.
For us, it takes planning and sacrifice – I spend time meal planning and grocery shopping on Sundays, and of course cook meals during the week. Kyle is my sous chef when needed, and he also sets the table and helps clean up after supper. So yes, there’s time involved, but the reward is connectivity and an investment in our relationship (in addition to a tasty meal). We’ve figured out a plan that works for us and allows us to sit down at our table and eat together as many nights a week as we can.
Why do we make this a priority? We view dinner as an important time to engage and communicate. It’s where we talk through issues from the day so they don’t fester and come out in other, non-constructive ways (i.e., tell your spouse you had a bad day and why, rather than taking it out on them unannounced later). We talk about our days, our plans, our hopes and our dreams. Yes, really! Dinner conversations can get deep! We also tell stories and laugh — and occasionally, we sit at the table long after we’ve finished eating, not able to stop talking through this or that.
Sound incompatible with your current reality or schedule? Here’s the trick – figure out what works for you and your sig-o. I have a sweet friend that gets up early a few days a week to have breakfast with her husband because he travels. We actually live in a small town and Kyle comes home for lunch a few days a week because he has work conflicts in the evenings during football and basketball season. Whatever works – there’s nothing magical about the dinner hour, the magic is sitting down together with no other interruptions.
The great news is that this hint works for all relationships. I followed the same rules with my roommate and would love to have regular dinners with my parents if they lived closer. There’s just something so valuable about breaking bread and sharing conversation.
Schedules get crowded. Evenings get busy. But I promise the sacrifice is worth it. It might not happen every night, but making it a priority is important. I’d love to hear your tips for sharing meals together. Do you have great recipes to share? How do you protect your schedule so that you can eat a meal together?