As our marriage was a second for both my husband and me, we didn’t start our relationship with just the two of us. Rather, it began with four children and a couple animals. Thus, a good amount of our time from the very beginning was spent with the usual family activities- sports, school, adventures, and more.
However, no matter the age of your children or the newness of your relationship, it’s important to have time for just the two of you. Without meaning to do so I created a tradition that gave us that one-on-one time in our home every week. Twelve years later that continues today as empty nesters. That tradition is Tapas Monday.
My husband played a small role in the creation of this tradition. In the fall of 2008, he had a weekly Monday call at 4:00 pm PT added to his work schedule. Living in New Hampshire, that meant he would be on the call until at least 8:00. With middle school-aged children, that was way too late for our regular family dinner. So, I hatched a plan.
The kids would have dinner at normal time, around 6:00, and then around 8:30, my husband and I would have dinner. Not one to settle for simple, I decided to make this late meal more than just a reheated version of the kids’ dinner. Rather every week while he was on the call, I would create a menu of tapas dishes and chill a bottle of sparkling wine.
With a format for the meal planned, I added other elements to the meal. It was always served by candlelight. Children were not allowed. In the earliest years, there were pauses in the meal to tuck children into bed. As the years progressed, a teen might pop his or her head into the dining room, arriving home after a sports practice. The majority of the meal was just the two of us, eating and talking about random subjects.
When I first created Tapas Monday it was a way for us to connect outside of our children without leaving the house. As years passed and the children began being busier on their own, giving us more alone time, we still held onto this tradition. Not only does it give us time to connect, it really is a highlight to look forward to on a Monday. No need to lament the start of the workweek when you know there’s a romantic dinner at the end of it.
Today, we are 100% empty nesters, and yet we still celebrate Tapas Monday. We start the meal earlier now, as there is no late meeting nor children in our house. Sometimes the menu is simple because the day has been crazy, but it’s always served in a fancy manner with a bottle of sparkling wine.
I would love to say that I appreciate this meal immensely, and I do, but I also take it for granted because it just is part of our weekly routine. Yet, every once in a while I tell someone about it, and I hear a sentiment of, “How romantic!” In that moment I realize it really is an amazing tradition we have.
So, here’s to Tapas Monday- an evening to dine, converse, and reconnect.