Nicola and I have had conversations lately about how we go about keeping the love alive. Not a general love, but specifically the excitement, the affection, the desire to do those little things that come so natural to us all, well... in the first six months at least.
With the constant distractions of work (we are both very busy modern working parents) and children (nine, eight and four in order of age and probably stroppy-ness), if we should ever grow weary and tiresome from the juggling, our social life is unquestionably the first ball to be dropped. Know that feeling?
Nicola was about to leave for New York for five days on a work trip/jolly up so we took the opportunity to book a romantic overnight stay at a spa in the Hilton at Heathrow Terminal 5 and asked our friends Ryan and Steff to come along. With best intentions, child and stress free, we should of had an amazing time yet somehow we'd had a blazing row before the other two had even arrived, I can't even remember what it was about, how pathetic!
With friends to distract us we focused on them and the sanctuary of the steam and sauna, which enabled us to sweep the point of our squabble under the rug. As pleasant as our evening at dinner was, Nicola left for NY at 6am before we really got a chance to repair ourselves. Some people can't sleep on an argument- we had five days to think about this one! Maybe sometimes we go without quality adult time for so long that when we find some, we panic and forget what to do with it?
Admittedly, we were both equally at fault but with an almost empty house to remind me something was missing I took it on myself to focus on the solution, instead of the problem, and began planning her a surprise birthday party. On her return the fracas was quickly forgotten and on the night I took pleasure in taking her to Home House for what she believed to be dinner, only to lead her down to 'the Vault' where a crowd of her friends and family were standing waiting. It gave her enough of a shock she took a huge breath and went all teary eyed.
The Birthday Cakes with The Birthday Girl
She thanked me 15 times that night. Like a child it was wonderful to work hard to do something good and to be rewarded with her appreciation. We had so much fun at the Lucky Voice karaoke in Poland Street afterwards. I saved my best till last (well I thought so) at the end of our session I sung One Direction's Little Things mostly to her face followed by one of her favourite Stuck on You by Lionel Richie which I could tell made her feel very special.
We topped it off with a salt beef bagel from the top of Brick Lane in the early hours - great!
Singing at Lucky Voice!
Larking about at Karaoke!
My job was done, well... for a day or two because inconvenient as it chronologically is, Nicola's birthday falls just two days before Valentine's Day, no pressure!
We were certainly getting our adult time as the occasions quite rightly dictated. There is a wonderful farm near my home that houses a few small business units in the old stables: a bakery, cafe, butchers and florist which had the most amazing pink roses (she's not a fan of red). So along with some hand made chocolates and her favourite sausage roll with brown sauce for breakfast, I went home to play her favourite musical theatre songs just to make sure the day started right.
Somehow the opportunity to shop together on our own had never presented itself. She's such a good companion because she doesn't drag you around; she actually enjoyed helping me pick out a pair of trainers and jacket from Selfridges equally. Something so simple as browsing through a department store hand in hand highlighted how our fairly 'hurried' relationship had missed a few pleasurable 'early days' steps with us being a ready made family already.
In a way I do envy those that are childless and about to embark on a relationship that will see them marry and have kids as the years progress. Single parents like us do the best they can for ourselves and for our kids - but the best time to get it right is before you've got it wrong, but some people need to get it wrong before they are ready to get it right!
Back to the story... shopping done and a simple enough dinner eaten in our sushi restaurant of choice Wasabi, we converged on the Haymarket Theatre to see our favourite show The Phantom of the Opera. We're forever singing it's numbers to each other especially All I ask so the chance to go and see it together was long overdue.
It's amazing how quickly you can fix a concern when you do something decisive about it. Even last night was great, the kids were in bed and Nicola and I entertained my friend Chloe and unexpectedly my cousin Lee popped over too. Just a bit of company other than our own brought out camaraderie between us that we both enjoyed.
The Happy Couple
Couples can falter when you forget to focus on each other and when you fail to recognise that like a rocket, our relationships can only travel towards the stars if you remember to put enough fuel in to it!
Typically all this talk of effort in relationships has tweaked this parents guilt strings so I've just gone back to GoSeeDo.com to book tickets for a half term trip to Chessington World Of Adventures just to make sure the kids aren't feeling left out! Keeping everyone happy, that's what it's all about - oh and not forgetting to keep yourself happy too!