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I’m Anti Date Night

That’s it. I’m done. I’m done with “date nights”. Every year for the past five years, I’ve started the year declaring that this would be the year that my husband and I finally make that elusive date night happen. And every year, it’s the same. I spend MONTHS trying to find a babysitter, then finally get a date night scheduled. My husband and I look forward to it, and I spend the entire day preparing for the night- a meal and bedtime routine laid out for my kids, a trip to the bank to get cash. The babysitter comes and we rush out the door to a nice dinner a hopefully a fun activity. Usually, we argue about where to go and what to do. We count on our fingers how many hours and minutes we have and how much money we really have in the budget to spend. It’s always so lovely when we are out. We get home, and pay the babysitter and then jump right back into the world of parenting.

            I’m not going to lie, “date night” is so nice.

            But I’m quitting them this year.

            Or at least, I’m quitting our culture’s perception of what date night is.

You see, date night for our family is incredibly stressful and expensive. I spend more energy the day of arranging for my child to be watched than I gain from going out with my husband. We end up paying more money for a babysitter than our entire meal + activity combined. Every time someone brings up “date night”, the first thing I feel is rising panic and guilt, and underneath that jealousy. My date nights don’t measure up to anyone else’s! I’m not meeting standards! And everywhere I turn, I hear the marriage advice that we need to make date night a priority because the success of our marriage depends entirely upon it.

Now don’t get me wrong…there are incredibly creative ways to make date night work for your family. Planning ahead, having family watch the kids, saving up to pay the babysitter and finding a trusted one that knows our kids, and doing free activities around town.

But, I for one, quit date night. I quit the cultural expectation that I need to go out and eat dinner and do an activity with my husband. I quit the expectation that my marriage will be in shambles if I don’t fit it into the box of date night. I quit the idea that if I don’t’ come up with creative ways to have a free date night, I’m failing in the marriage category. I quit the idea that my children are nothing but burdens and that my husband and I are incapable of having a relationship when they are in the vicinity.

Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my marriage. In fact, I’m excited to be even more intentional than ever before about time with my husband. Being intentional about my time with my husband is vital to my marriage. But this year I’m going to do things a little differently.

I’m going to be intentional about packing his lunches and writing him notes. I’m going to be intentional about praying with him every night before bed. I’m going to be intentional about family dinners and fun conversations while we are all sitting around the table. I’m going to be intentional about playing board games – some with the kids, and some without. I’m going to be intentional about putting down our phones and spending one on one time together after the kids go to bed. I’m going to be intentional about spending our evenings doing more than just watching TV and scrolling on our smartphones. I’m going to make the kids mac and cheese, then send them to bed early and eat steak with my husband by candlelight (yes, I guarantee someone will interrupt us). I’m going to worry less about what culture tells me is right for my marriage, and instead step up and be intentional about it even when the budget is tight and the kids are many and needy.

What about you? How are you intentional in your marriage? Do you find yourself racked with guilt over not having a “date night”? Join me in letting go of that cultural norm and instead focus on all those little moments and evenings and time that we can be intentional in our marriages without the cultural constructs of what is right and wrong.

 

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15 Responses to I’m Anti Date Night

  1. Emily February 5, 2018 at 10:15 am #

    While I love love LOVE getting out of the house with just my husband for a date night, we have 4 kids and a super busy schedule that just doesn’t allow this to be feasible on a regular basis. One thing we do often though are at-home date nights. Fancy dinner (or pizza! haha) and a movie, phones put away. Finding something creative to work on–a podcast was born out of time when we felt really disconnected, and has been a really fun way for us to hang out after the kids go to bed. We also try to stay in communication throughout the day, mostly through texting. Even a short little note or joke helps me feel connected to him when otherwise I might get caught up in all the “stuff” there is to do in a day.

    Great post! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Stephanie February 5, 2018 at 7:48 pm #

    We’ve kinda shifted to ‘at home date nights’ where we feed the kiddo dinner early and send him to bed. Then we have a more special, late dinner. Maybe light candles, play music, and talk without constant interruptions. Saves money too!

  3. Jaclyn Musselman February 5, 2018 at 8:12 pm #

    This is so great..I can relate to it all…the expense, the counting of the hours we are gone to pay the sitter etc. we’ve been trying to have more nights in at home and they are always just as fun!

  4. Nicole Banuelos February 5, 2018 at 8:22 pm #

    Suzanne, you nailed it! We rarely do date nights either. Not because we don’t want to, but because childcare is a problem. We try to take advantage of grandparents when we can but honestly in the last year we maybe went out a handful of times on a “date”. We do try to be intentional – maybe set aside time for a movie once the kids go to bed… if they cooperate. lol Love this post!

  5. This Messy Season February 5, 2018 at 8:53 pm #

    This is really beautiful, great post. We do go on regular dates but I’m totally with you that those smaller gestures mean so much.

  6. Rachel February 5, 2018 at 9:03 pm #

    OMG YES! Preach, sister! I feel like our ‘date nights’ where we have a sitter are so… manufactured? Like, we end up eating super fast (unintentionally) and we barely speak (again, unintentionally) . So I LOVE it!! LOVE LOVE LOVE this!

  7. Amy February 5, 2018 at 9:49 pm #

    our date nights are usually spent not knowing where to go or what to do and stalling until the sitter puts the kids to bed. I wish we were better at them. This might just be what I need to do too!

  8. Jeannette Anna February 5, 2018 at 10:02 pm #

    This is such a great perception! Is date night really worth the stress? It almost completely takes away from the whole point of “date night”. Really great read!

  9. Amanda February 6, 2018 at 6:56 am #

    We have loads of date nights. We put the toddler to bed and curl up on the sofa to watch a movie together. It is something we both love.

  10. Kim @ Berly's Kitchen February 6, 2018 at 7:05 am #

    The idea of date night is a good idea in theory, but it is so stressful in reality. You’re right. Arguing over where to eat, the cost, and babysitting issues just aren’t worth it. Kinda ruins the experience.

  11. Lindsey February 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    THIS!!! Girl… so much truth and being intentional is sometimes entirely more important than sitting in a movie together! Wonderfully said!

  12. Christy February 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm #

    I am on board with letting go of guilt, that my date nights are not going to look like another couple’s date nights. Some date nights will not be amazing considering the effort put in. But when I talk to people whose marriages have held strong, who I trust for wisdom in marriage… the first thing they urge is to make time for quality time together (which can be at home) and make time to go out together. They say it over and over, and I think it’s for a reason. I don’t view my children as a burden, but I can think and communicate differently when I’m not with them. Research shows that experiencing new things together has a positive effect on marriages. I have included more at-home dates that achieve this, but the ones out of the home have that extra aspect of stopping everything else in life just for a bit. I’ve also become more set on getting away for two nights, so we have a solid day of just being together. I used to not even consider it because of cost, then we happened to have two days together not really planning in that mindset and I realized what a difference it made. I’ve had some mediocre date nights, too, and I figure it’s like the risk of any other family expense, like when I thought some piece of baby equipment would be essential and I never used it. Some ideas for lightening the burden of date nights is to come up with a list together of ideas and take turns choosing from it. Take turns finding a babysitter (this means really being intentional for me because they’re often people I’m more connected to). If that means going half as often if the other half drops the ball, so be it, but I would still go half as often.

    I think it’s good to step back and see “this isn’t working for us, and we’re not doing it anymore.” But all or nothing seems like an unnecessary call to action.

    • Emily February 7, 2018 at 10:09 am #

      I love the post AND I love your thoughts on it! I second the time away for a night or two, and how vital that is for couples (especially those with kids). My husband and I try to do this once a year, most times just staying in town but at a hotel and trying new restaurants in our area. This year, though, we celebrated 10 years and were able to sneak away for a week. The bit you said about thinking and communicating differently when your kids aren’t around is SPOT ON. My husband and I have a strong relationship but a whole week of just each other really allowed us to rediscover things that get put on the back burner when you’re in the thick of raising little kids.

  13. Jennifer Maune | Maune Legacy February 6, 2018 at 6:24 pm #

    I love the idea of being intentional all the time, instead of just saving it all up for a date night. We always should just spend time the ways that make us happy!

  14. Jessica February 8, 2018 at 3:37 am #

    Love this post! I’m not married yet, but I can somewhat relate. My boyfriend and I are so busy with work, we rarely have time to fit in ‘date nights’. Instead, we make it a point to be more intentional about doing everyday tasks together like cooking dinner and running errands, and being completely in the moment while doing them (meaning no phones or laptops!).

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