I can imagine that when many of us our in “the getting to know” and “dating” stages of being a couple that “dating” and finding things to do together is somewhat easy and expected. After all you are dating. You are learning about each other, build rapport and romance, and feeling (not necessarily literally) each other out to see if this is who I really want to spend the rest of my life with…maybe…maybe not…maybe.
But I often wonder how many people think about the importance of having a Date Night with your spouse once you are married and how many think about it once kids come along. While they are wonderful miracles of God’s amazing creative ability (really going to ask him on that one once I find my way home to him – sex and childbirth sometimes you have to wonder how thought through was that one but I digress), I have often heard children can be the kiss of death for romance and the couple’s coupleness. I find this sad yet I can see how easily it could happen. Children, regardless of age, demand a lot of your attention and focus. They demand you put them first. But, they grow up. They leave. They go live lives of their own. How sad is it that too often than need be, children leave and a husband and wife find themselves strangers, no longer the couple that lovingly made those children that have now left.
I know when my husband and I were still dating, not yet engaged, we talked at length about this and I had great concern and fear over this. As did he. He expressed how drastically his relationship with his first wife changed once they had children and how her focused seemed to be all kids and no him, and how that contributed to the downfall of their marriage. We both discussed how absolutely vital it was to make sure our relationship (that of husband and wife) stayed strong even with children present and we both appeared to understand that to do that meant three things: 1. Making it a priority. 2. Neither party forgetting that it does take effort to make the other THE priority. 3. And that your spouse is THE priority – together you will take care of the kids.
It was after one of those discussions that I did two things. The first was to suggest, ok it was more of a demand than a suggestion since I had put my foot down on it, that we have a date night for just us at least once a week. Now we have not always been able to do this BUT we make it a priority. The second was to make a list of everything I wanted to do with my husband from the simple to the elaborate. I pulled out that list in order to write this post (sadly I have not recently actively pulled from it) BUT when I did I realized how many of those things we have already done without me knowing.
So if making sure you and your sweetie stay sweeties and don’t turn into strangers is a very important to do for you then may I suggest the following:
Set a Date Night
Talk to each other and see what works best for your life and your needs. I will admit that I am a little needy for my alone time but I am equally needy for my being alone with my hubby time, so once a week worked best into our schedule. We are flexible since we have a son that is involved in quite a lot but we still make date night a priority. For you it may be once a month, especially if you have really little ones or need to hire a babysitter to get the alone time. Perhaps every other week.
Once you decide on the frequency, SET THE DATE. Put it in your calendar like any other appointment. You are not likely to miss your doctor’s appointment or hair appointment or anything else that is on your calendar. So if you schedule your date nights you are less likely to miss them. Just saying, “Oh we are going to have date night twice a month.” is not good enough. You may say it but unless its scheduled, the end of the month will be here and other more “important” things will have robbed you of your date night.
Build the Excitement
Once you have scheduled your date nights, I think deciding on what they will be at the beginning of the month and putting them in your calendar is an awesome way to build excitement. Say your date night is a moonlight stroll on the beach followed by hot coffees on the pier, you can get excited about that. When you are excited, you again are more likely to keep your appointment. Frankly, if its between a mani-pedi or a dental cleaning, I might be really tempted to skip out on the dental cleaning but I don’t think I would miss the relaxation I look forward to with a mani-pedi. Same is true for dating your husband. If there is no anticipation, then you run the risk of it becoming a chore.
Make a List
I was once told to make a list of what you want, and then let the universe help manifest it. What I really think this means and boils down to, is once you verbalize something or write it down, then your brain unconsciously is more likely to focus on making it happen. It happened with my list. I made a list of 92 things and of those we have already done 40! I can tell you that while I would love to take credit for planning all 40, I did not. BUT my having written it down, I know helped my brain be more attuned to the opportunities.
Not only will it help your brain be attuned to the various opportunities that are out there BUT it will also help you when planning each month’s dates. Its much easier when you have something to pull from than to try to constantly think of something…ruts happen really quickly that way. Coffee and a walk will only be exciting for so long.
To create your list, I suggest you each sit down and write down as many things as you would like to do with your spouse. This can be anything from something as simple as snuggle on the couch watching a romantic comedy to going to a local sports game to the elaborate like traveling to Europe. I know Europe might be more than one date but put it on the list. Then combine your list. As you pick, I suggest picking one or two simple dates to start with and as you continue mix in one or two mid-level dates and make sure to plan a longer date every now and then as your schedule and budget permit.
In my next post, I will be posting several ideas and executions for Date Nights and the following post will be on a Year of Dates. Here’s to a year filled with building and strengthening you and your spouse’s relationship.