You met, fell in love, got married, had a few kids. Not necessarily in that order. Marriage seems easier with only two people involved; adding small humans to the equation complicates matters and requires a lot of your time and energy. Do you have anything left for your spouse?
My husband and I enjoyed a close relationship before children which we assumed would continue. We planned to be the exception to the rule and not let kids impact our deep connection.
Well…easier said than done. The reality of family life was much different than anticipated. Our vision proved completely unrealistic. Taking care of a house and kids, planning meals, establishing careers and work-related travel was all-consuming. My husband and I no longer had time for “us”. We had a new normal, one that did not include time to nurture our relationship.
The lack of communication led to bickering and arguments. It wasn’t until our 4 year old interrupted us at one point to ask us to PLEASE stop fighting. We were stunned – we did not realize how often we were arguing or that the children were aware and uncomfortable with the conflict. We knew we were headed down a bad path.
The best thing parents can do for their children is show them a happy marriage and harmonious home environment. Issues are addressed so much more easily when parents are on the same page. And so we instituted “Date Night”.
Saturday nights didn’t work for us. We were young and struggling financially, so we had a standing sitter come every Wednesday night instead. This way we could get out for an hour or two to have a casual dinner alone without feeling like we were preventing the sitter from earning a full weekend night’s pay. We did not go to a movie because we could sit next to each other and not talk at home, and we did not include friends as we spent time together as families. We simply spent that time catching up with each other and remembering why we fell in love in the first place. Our date nights went on until the kids entered high school, at which time they spent a lot of time with friends giving us plenty of time at home.
Next year my husband and I will be married thirty years and are still going strong. Marriage is hard, especially with the inevitable time constraints once children come along. Successful couples nurture their marriage, work on effective communication, and commit to work through problems together.
Many of our friends divorced once the kids left home, which makes me sad. This time of life will be the icing on the cake if you take care to keep your relationship loving and close over the years.
Marriage starts with just the two of you, and goes back to that once the kids grow up. Whether once a week or once a month, whatever works for you, in my book date night is an essential part of marriage. I credit these simple weekly outings alone for keeping our marriage strong.
Date night suggestions: