It all started in 2006. It was early December, and we were contemplating how we would celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. For the first time, we had no child-care for our anniversary, and we realized the only option was an at-home date. Our kids were five, three, and four months at the time, and we really didn’t know how it would work. But we figured I could work Steven’s feedings such that Doug and I could at least have a couple of hours of uninterrupted “us” time.
So, while I got the kids ready for bed, Doug went to pick up Olive Garden carry-out. We then put the kids to bed in one end of the house and we went to the opposite end, as far away as possible! We laid out our best dishes, lit some candles, and tried to create as romantic of a setting as possible. Oh, and we added in a lot of praying that the kids would cooperate!
The kids did cooperate, and that anniversary celebration was an absolutely beautiful one! But, the most memorable part of that anniversary celebration was less what we did that night and more of the tradition it initiated: a weekly at-home date night.
So, what’s the big deal? Is date night really that important? Well, it is for us, and I would argue that it is for every couple, whether they have kids at home or not. Even when we are together, we are often not truly protecting our intimacy with one another. We might be working side by side on our own projects, chatting as we go along, but that is not truly preserving “us.” It is so easy to just coexist. I believe that we as married couples need to do more than coexist. I believe we need to make sure to set aside a little bit of time every week to truly focus on one another. To put aside all of our other projects and obligations and protect a little bit of time for just the two of us.
So, what is date night?
Well, first, here’s what it is not. Date night is not…
…expensive. One of the biggest issues with making sure to date your spouse is that childcare and going out cost so much. True, you will occasionally still want to truly get out in those times when the budget and the childcare provision line up. But, this is more about time with each other than about what you do. It can actually be completely free!
…about scheduled sex. Yep, I said it. While sex can definitely be a part of date night, that’s not what it’s about. That needs to be an overall part of the week as a whole so as to ease the pressure from date night expectations.
…impossible. It might take a little work to teach your children to respect the time and to figure out what the best time is for you, but it is possible.
On the other hand, date night is…
…flexible. Don’t have a free night, but you can spend 10:00 AM through lunch nearly every Tuesday together? Great! Make plans for that!
…good for the kids. That’s right. It is good for them to be shut out of mommy and daddy time on a regular basis. My son is a mommy’s boy. He fights for me! But, even though he and his daddy playfully tease each other about who I belong to, Steven knows that I am daddy’s wife first. And even though he doesn’t realize it, that gives him security.
…an important, regular reminder. My children aren’t the only ones who need to know that I am my husband’s first. Doug and I also are constantly reminded. The demands of being a mommy and a homeschooler often take up a good portion of my time. Date night is a regular redirection. It is a time for me to focus completely on Doug and a time to remind me that I need to focus on him. Even without children in the house, it’s easy to get caught up in our own responsibilities. We need to be reminded that we belong to one another!
Date night for you will look different than it looks for me, I’m sure, but I’ll give you a few hints that might help you kickstart your own date night.
First of all, protect it! If it has to change one week, actively make plans to have it at a different time that week. I admit that sometimes a reschedule is impossible. In those cases, take ten to fifteen minutes here and there during the week to focus on one another, and then be extra diligent the next week to protect your time.
Secondly, don’t let yourself feel the pressure to make it perfect. It might simply be an uninterrupted meal, a movie together, a game, or even planning time for the coming week. It can be simple with a few more elaborate dates scattered here and there through the year. Pressure to make it just right and to plan it to the hilt often detracts from the delight of the time together, so simple really is better.
Finally, find one thing that sets date night apart. For us it is bottled IBC Root Beer. Every now and then we’ll have something else, but for the most part date night will find us enjoying chilled bottles of root beer with our date night meal. It’s a simple thing, but it is a fun tradition.
Do you have a regular date time? What would it take to set one in motion? I encourage you to do what it takes. I can guarantee, it is something you won’t regret!