Posted in Marriage

Why We Have Date Night

A few weeks ago, I came across this article by Tim Challies:

Yes, please, go ahead and read it. It’s a good article. I see his point, and I agree with him – well, for the most part.

I wholeheartedly agree with the importance of enjoying our spouses. I can’t imagine going through life without enjoying my husband on a daily basis, whether we’re working, playing, or just living life together. That enjoyment is much more critical than a weekly date night.

Yet, as we head into this new year, my husband and I are as determined as ever to fiercely protect our weekly date night. Contrary to Challies’ admonition to the contrary, we are fully convinced that we do need this time for several reasons.

Three Reason We Have Date Night

We need to publicly protect our time together.

There are weeks when we get those little moments scattered throughout, and we don’t “need” date night nearly as much (although we still take it). But, there are other weeks when, no matter what we do to avoid it, our time is demanded and we are unable to squeeze even a few cherished moments into our days. We protect date night – even in the weeks when the little moments are frequent – because we can look at other people in those crazy weeks and say, “No. This is OUR time. It is protected.” When we do it weekly, it’s much easier to jealously guard it in the crazy weeks and months. It doesn’t mean we go out – we rarely have an away-from-home date night. But, we do devote that time to being intentionally together.

The side benefit is that those to whom we are ministering see that we truly enjoy one another and are actively working to keep our marriage strong. That lends credibility to our ministry role.

Setting aside time keeps me from just folding my husband into my routine.

My husband needs to know he’s special. Important. Significant enough to me that I make him a part of my every day routine – but also significant enough that I will pull away from my routine just for him. Regularly.

Date night is my way of saying, “You’re important enough to set all of the rest of this aside completely.”

Those precious little moments we enjoy together are part of life. And we will always make a special effort to delight in those moments instead of letting them just pass us by. But, we will also be intentional about creating focused time together, time that is distinct from the normal routine of life.

Date night teaches our children.

We have kids. We homeschool those kids. We minister with those kids. They are always with us. Which means they share most of those precious little moments with us. And, my friends, that is absolutely beautiful to me.

But, it’s also a hazard. My husband and I need time that is our own. And our children need to see that Dad and Mom aren’t just parents – they are husband and wife. Intentionally setting aside a date night shows our children that shared enjoyment between just the two of us is a vital part of a marriage.

We started date night when the kids were five, three, and six months. Evenings were not easy thanks to a baby who didn’t want to be away from mama at all and a preschooler who suffered from night terrors. The kids did not understand date night. They only understood their needs and desires. Intentionality was hard – especially when we had to stay at home due to lack of babysitters or funds to go out. But, those obstacles heightened the meaningfulness of our choice to be intentional. And, over time the kids learned that date night meant something special for Mommy and Daddy. Nine years later, they now honor it with us.

Date night is really not the key here. Intentionality is. Choosing to let your spouse know that he is more than just part of your every day life – he’s special. He’s significant. He’s worth sharing precious moments of life with. But he’s also worth reserving time for.

Yes, I do need date night, and I will strongly defend that need while encouraging you to find what fits your need.

Will you choose to be intentional this year, whatever form that takes for you?

Posted in Marriage

Marriage Monday: The Unexpected

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had what many would consider an ideal date weekend. And it was, indeed, a lot of fun.

We left the kids with my parents on Thursday and headed out of state for a conference. The conference ended Friday afternoon, so we started the first leg of our trip home, stopping halfway for the night. We could have made it all the way to my parents’ that night. But we chose not to. We chose to enjoy some extra time together.

Friday night we ate supper in our hotel room and enjoyed a nice, quiet evening.

Saturday we took our time getting up and going. We wanted to time our traveling perfectly to enjoy lunch at PF Changs, our standard “no-kids” destination, before reuniting the family.

Yes, it was a lovely weekend.

Even so, the next weekend I felt as if I’d missed date night for a couple of weeks. I was so ready for our typical Friday night at-home date time.

Unexpected Plans

I laughed as I contemplated this sentiment. You see, our first at-home date was chosen because we had no other option. At the time, we thought dates meant finding babysitters and getting out of the house. But that did not happen very often, thanks to lack of budget and babysitters. Despite the marital advice to date frequently, there were years when our anniversary celebration was the only date we enjoyed.

Until our eighth anniversary.

That year we had no child care. We had no options. So, we picked up take-out and prayed that our children would cooperate. And God answered.

If you have read my blog for any length of time, you probably have seen our date night story. (You can read it here.) I have shared why date night has become so important and why I recommend it to every couple.

But I see now that there is even more to the story.

Unexpected Desires

You see, this idea that a “real” date involves leaving the children and going out has remained prominent in my mind. Our weekly at-home date is simply what we do in the in-between times while we wait for the chance to get away.

But, last month it dawned on me that even when we have our getaway opportunities, we still crave that at-home date night. Even if we have the chance on a Tuesday to be away somewhere, we still want to stop and be together at home on Friday night. We have come to crave that time of putting aside work and obligations and interactions with everyone but each other. We find rest in those few hours.

That realization was very unexpected.

Handling the Unexpected

Marriage is like that. It introduces the unexpected. We discover things about ourselves, our spouses, and our lives that we never would have known otherwise.

So, how do we handle the unexpected?

We have two choices when the unexpected washes over us.

  • We can respond in disbelief, assuming that this new discovery cannot possibly be accurate because it’s not the standard answer.
  • We can embrace is, allowing it to open our minds and train us to think outside the box regarding our marriages and our lives.

Date night is such a little thing. But nearly seven and a half years ago, we allowed ourselves to think outside the box by being willing to try to date one another at home. That one decision opened the door to many realizations about ourselves. It allowed us to think outside the box in bigger situations. And, it encouraged us to embrace the unexpected.

How can you embrace the unexpected in your marriage?