Date Night Reinvented: Tips From Valeisha Butterfield Jones
Valeisha Butterfield Jones is definitely a force to be reckoned with. From working with Russell Simmons as the director of the Hip Hop Summit Network to working with the Obama administration as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for international trade, she’s had a vast range of professional experiences that have shaped her. She is also one of the founders of WEEN (Women in Entertainment Empowerment Network), the owner of The Butterfield Group Consulting Form, and now an author. But she realizes that having it all means putting her family first. She shared her tips on what keeps her marriage flowing and healthy.
How long have you been married and how old is your son?
Valeisha: I’ve been married to my husband, Dahntay Jones, for a little over four years and our son, DJ, is now three-years-old.
Have you found that it’s hard to spend a lot of quality time together now that you have a child?
Valeisha: Yes, it can be very challenging to spend quality time with your husband, especially with a young child. From the moment I became pregnant and gave birth, my life changed and I had to continue to make my marriage a priority. When DJ was just a few months old, I realized that all of my time was split between caring for him and work. The day I stopped to realize that my priorities were off, I immediately changed. While being a mom and a businesswoman is important, you must keep the spice in your marriage. We now have mandatory date nights once a week. Not only do I call my mother-in-law or hire a sitter, I make sure it’s an overnight situation!! We can stay out as late as we like and we can even sleep in the next day.
What does your date night typically consist of?
Valeisha: Our date nights are usually very casual. Because of the nature of our careers (he’s a professional athlete and I am an author currently on a national book tour), we have very little downtime. So, our date nights normally consist of jeans, sneakers, a good movie, dinner and a nice bottle of wine.
Can you give me three at home date night ideas and how would you plan/prepare for each one?
1. Dim the house with candles burning and soft music playing, dinner already prepared and a massage table set-up and on display in the living room. You can give each other massages and set the mood. If you’re intimidated by giving him a massage, you can hire a massage therapist to come into the home and do the work for you.
2. Turn your backyard into a sanctuary. Get a nice blanket, a good bottle of wine, your favorite movie (my favorite is the 1970 film Love Story) playing on your iPad and a candle. Make it an outdoors moment.
3. Draw a nice warm bath, burn your favorite candles, play your favorite playlist and read to each other. Reading to each other excerpts from your favorite book can be very, very romantic. Slow dancing is nice too.
Is there anything specific that you would do like cook his favorite meal or have it be a theme that he likes or have something there that is sentimental to the two of you?
Valeisha: The most important component of an at-home date-night is to put in the effort. If you’re not a great cook, hire someone or get some of your friends to come over and help (and leave before he gets home).
Do you think it’s important to try and stay fit and sexy during a marriage? And how can someone do that?
Valeisha: Not only do you look better when you workout, you feel better. Staying or in some cases getting fit in your marriage is definitely important. It increases your energy and shows your spouse that you not only care about him/her, but you care about yourself. If mom is healthy, it sets the tone for the entire family.
What are the pros and cons of being married to an NBA player?
Valeisha: Being an NBA player is an occupation and not the definition of who he is as a man. When we were dating, we made sure to establish that upfront. Too often, we buy into our occupations as being a part of our lifestyle, when we shouldn’t. Occupations come and go, but our true character remains. A friend of mine, Dr. Alex Ellis, told me recently “You can’t be a success on the road and a failure at home.” That really stuck with me. Of course, I enjoy going to the games, traveling and meeting new people, but it’s also a very time-consuming occupation. Having a two-year old, it can be challenging to relocate so often and travel so much, but it comes with the territory.
What’s the best marriage advice anyone has given you?
Valeisha: The best advice I ever received is “the days are long, but the years are short.” I interpreted that to mean that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff and to not define the happiness of your marriage by small disagreements. When you marry someone, you become family and it’s important to keep that in perspective.