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.