A couple of years ago, my husband and I were living with his folks for a time as we saved up money to purchase our first home. It was really neat as we had a full-sized apartment and a huge, beautiful property in which to enjoy. The best part was having grandparents living right there: an extra set of eyes to watch what was going on… an extra set of hands to help out… and an extra set of arms for the kids to cuddle into. And it was also very good for my husband and I, too, as it strengthened our relationship with them. It was a precious time for our families.
While we were living there, nearly every Thursday evening was scheduled Date Night. We LOVED it! We both could have had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week… but we could hang on till Thursday because THEN… if only for a few hours… my hubby and I could leave (kid-less) and enjoy each others company.
And his parents would babysit. *glorious sigh*
I can’t state enough what a blessing it was that they would do that for my husband and I!!! What they did was amazingly precious and selfless and giving. Those were especially trying times in our marriage and having that opportunity to get out alone together almost weekly was one of the most precious gifts they could have given us. We desperately needed those evenings!
Date Night’s were usually nothing terribly romantic. Honestly, we spent most of our dates at Applebee’s eating off their late night 1/2 off appetizer menu. Then we’d venture out to Walmart to shop (usually for diapers!)… or just to walk around holding hands… and talk about absolutely everything and nothing.
We made some sweet memories…
A little over two years ago we were finally able to purchase our first home. It was nice to finally have our own place and it was an answer to our prayers… but we all did (and still do) truly miss our parents’/grandparents’ company. We still see each other since, thankfully, we live in the same town. But it’s not the same. We miss them.
Our Date Nights now have taken on a different flavor. Whereas we used to go out, now we stay in. It used to be buffalo wings and Walmart… now it’s a glass of wine and some fancy cheese from Aldi’s… or a movie… or coffee and hanging outside by the fire pit… but always cuddles and hand holding and TALKING.
Oh man, talking is HUGE in marriage. I’m not kidding… I can’t think of a single thing my hubby and I can’t talk about. We talk about what’s working, what’s not working. The good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. Parenting. Business. Finances. Politics. Christianity. Our futures. Our dreams. Our goals and aspirations. Our struggles. ALL of it. In fact, I keep a running list of “things to talk about with my hubby” so come Date Night we don’t miss any topics. If I don’t write it down, I lose it (mom brain), and then we forget to talk about it.
Now I’m not saying we only talk to one another on Thursdays. That’s silly. But sometimes life gets busy and time slips away far too fast. That’s when it’s especially very important for me to write down what’s on my mind so we can talk about it later. It doesn’t HAVE to be Thursday. But there have been weeks here and there that Thursday was the first time all week we’ve both come up for air and we’ve had the undistracted time to really talk about important issues.
Our marriage has been far from a walk in the park. We have had to really work at it… especially as we went through some pretty tough experiences: honeymoon pregnancy, quitting my career to be a stay-at-home mom, embracing homemaking and childcare (which I was not accustomed to), hubby starting a business, financial strains, more babies, moving a couple of times, a miscarriage, a stillbirth (at 37 weeks), homeschooling, changing curriculums until we found what we liked, changing churches, etc. We NEEDED Date Night’s in order to stay on the same page and to weather the difficulties of life together. We very easily could have grown apart during some of these trials. But we didn’t, I believe, in large part because of Date Nights. That was our time to cleave to one another, share our burdens, pray, and seek God.
But even if/when things are “boring” and seemingly stagnant or we’re not finding that time throughout the week to really communicate and connect… we always have our Thursday evenings to do just that. We covet that evening. We plan around that evening. We hold strict bedtimes for the kids that evening. We try very hard to protect and maintain that evening from other activities.
It’s been great, too, since it’s turned Fall. Hubby and I will oftentimes make a cup of coffee and just sit outside by the fire pit and just hang out. We’ve had some amazing conversations.
I will say, I do enjoy it better when we can get out of the house for Date Nights. It’s a tad tough being in the house with all the dishes and laundry and toys. I try hard to get the house in order before the kids go to bed, but there’s ALWAYS unfinished work or projects that seem to leer at you. It takes more effort to ignore it and just focus on the date. When you leave the house, everything is out of sight out of mind and much easier to deal with. But we are currently making do with where we’re at. 🙂
This phase of our lives will shift pretty dramatically in the next couple of years. Our oldest kids are 12, 11, and 9 and they are already super capable. Give them a couple more years and we can start actually “going out” without needing a babysitter. That time will come before we realize it, I know.
So anyways… I say all this because no matter WHERE you’re at in life and marriage, you CAN (and should) make time regularly to DATE your spouse. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy. It certainly doesn’t need to be expensive (it could even be free!). You don’t need to leave your house. It doesn’t even have to be at night: you can meet for lunch dates if your schedules both allot for it better. Shoot, even if your hubby travels a lot you can STILL make Date Nights work. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, Viber, Tango, and ooVoo are great for face-to-face chat.
Dating is simply carving out specific time to be together… alone… undistracted…
Life and family and kids and jobs keep us SO distracted these days. We need this time to “just be” with our spouse. Dating should never stop with the words “I do”… or with kids… or with financial strains… or with an empty nest… or with old age… or with busyness. If anything, as the busyness of life increases, the need for Date Night increases as well as it becomes SO EASY to lose that precious connection.
If you are currently dating your spouse regularly, I’d LOVE to hear about it! Especially if you stay home for Date Nights In. What sort of things do you do together?
If you’re currently not dating your spouse, could I encourage you to make an effort to start? Talk to your spouse and pick a day and time that would work for the both of you. If you start, let me know how it goes and what you think!
**Awesome podcast/transcript from Focus on the Family!