My husband and I had been married for seven years before our daughter, Ella, was born. While her entrance into our family was joyful, exciting and wonderful, it was also very different from what we had known as a couple before she arrived. Everything from our sleep to our communication was affected once Ella joined our family, and we had to learn how to function in new ways as parents, without losing our connection as friends and lovers.
While our transition into parenthood hasn’t been perfect, our marriage has remained strong through this first year of parenthood. One of our secret weapons to keeping it that way is Date Night. Michael and I have a consistent, nonnegotiable date night each week and it has helped us to stay connected throughout each season of our marriage. If you’re thinking of making a similar commitment with your husband, here are some whys and hows for you to consider.
Time is a valuable gift.
Making time to date one another in a season of life that is very busy (and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon) is a priceless gift we can give our spouse. When we fell in love during college, Michael and I spent huge amounts of time together, but it wasn’t a sacrifice—we had a lot of time to spare. But now, with jobs, grad school and a child, the margins in our life have become very small. Time is a precious commodity to both of us, and when we willingly spend that time with one another, we are saying you are worth my time. And because our lives are made up of just that—time—we are saying, in essence, you are worth my life.
We invest in what we value.
If you’re like me and you’re not rolling in money, the components of getting a date with your spouse can seem too costly sometimes—paying for a date and a sitter can really add up. It can feel difficult to justify that much cash just to get some one-on-one time together. Yet, we invest in what we value, and spending money to date each other is a direct reflection of the value we place on our relationship. That doesn’t mean we have to spend loads of money to date, but we do have to invest in cultivating our relationship as a couple, just as we did when we were falling in love.
When we short-change our spouse, we short-change the family.
As a mom, I want Ella to have everything she needs (and more). Time, attention, love, clothes, food, toys—whatever it is, I want to make sure that she gets what she needs to thrive. But more than many other things, our children need us, as their parents, to have a thriving relationship with one another. Children want to know that their parents are in love and that they enjoy one another; this brings peace and stability to a home. Having a consistent date night doesn’t guarantee a healthy marriage, but it does offer intentional space to grow together as a couple.
Date night won’t add much to a relationship if there is no real connection. While watching a TV show together can be fun, it’s also important to create space to talk and continue to get to know one another. Michael and I try to be intentional about asking each other questions that probe past the surface of our days in order to connect on a deeper level. We’ve even purchased books to help jumpstart these conversations—and we keep learning about each other in the process.
Keep it simple.
Sometimes, the thought of planning a date night—on top of everything else—can seem like a burden rather than a blessing. So, most of the time, we keep it simple. Do you have a favorite burger joint in town you both love? It’s ok to go there regularly. Are you both coffee drinkers? Hit up the same café each week. It’s not the place and the surroundings that matter—it’s the time you get with one another.
Sometimes, go fancy.
The caveat to keeping things simple is that there are times when a fancy night out or adventurous date is exactly what you both need. New experiences together are fun and bonding, so put on your heels, compliment his tie, and make a reservation at your favorite restaurant. Buy tickets to the Broadway show. Put on a life jacket and go white-water rafting. There are occasions that merit celebration in any marriage, even if it’s just the fact that you made it through the week!
Either way, make it happen.
Regardless of what you do, actually having a date together is the key. If Michael and I only had a date night on the weeks it was convenient, we would never get one. But we are committed to investing in our marriage in this way, and so we make it work, even if it’s a shared dessert at home after Ella goes to sleep or a walk at the park with her in a stroller while we talk. If paying for a sitter is too expensive, see if you can swap babysitting duties with friends once a month so that you can get out of the house. If you’re both too exhausted to form coherent sentences at night, try a breakfast or a lunch date. Whatever it looks like, it’s worth it.
When you continue to date that person you fell in love with so many months or years ago, you may find yourself falling in love all over again.
What are your tips for keeping a consistent date night?
Images via Bethany Small