“Want to Go Out Sometime?” The Importance of Date Nights After Having Children

Once upon a time, in a land not so far away, you found “the one,” and led a busy dating life, getting to know this person you eventually married. In time, you possibly came to take for granted these important outings with your significant other, and somehow after marriage and kids, they have all but vanished.

“You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” isn’t just a popular Righteous Brothers song that has stood the test of time; it’s a sentiment that can all too easily happen to already busy married couples focusing entirely on parenthood. While the term “date night” may feel as if it were only part of your vocabulary in a past fairy tale life, that really should not be the case, even in the current chaotic lives of couples who are also parents.

“If you want to keep your marriage alive, you must, must, must make a date night once a week,” recommends Lyss Stern, a mother of three and CEO of DivaMoms.com. “If we didn’t make a date night, we’d be two ships passing in the night. It would all be about the kids, the kids, the kids.”

Yet, if you’re like most couples, you’ll read this, take note of it, and go on with that hectic life. In fact, a recent Redbook survey found that 45% of couples polled “rarely” have date nights, and a mere 18% say they manage to go out just once a month.[1]

Date night is a state of mind more than an activity. It’s about the meaning you make of your time together as a couple, whatever you do – whether simple or elaborate, eating a sandwich in the park, taking a walk on the beach, going out to the symphony, seeing a movie, or just having coffee. Dating makes you recall, “Oh, right, we’re a couple first!” when too often it can seem that you’re simply roommates or two people running a daycare.

Relationship therapist Andrew G. Marshall outlined in his book, I Love You But You Always Put Me Last, rules on how over-indulgent parents should “childproof” their marriage, including locking their bedroom door at night. This particular practice may sound harsh, but his central point is valid – that couples who rarely have time away from their kids are storing up problems for the future. In short, staying connected to your spouse is essential to maintaining a healthy relationship.

Regular date nights give couples the opportunity to reinforce mutual beliefs, address any changing viewpoints, and offer support to each other. Without making the time for this type of connection, your quality of communication could seriously erode over time. In addition, it can hard to get into a romantic mode if you’re constantly just in baby mode. A date night gives you and your partner a chance to, in fact, reignite that lovin’ feeling, without distractions. Couples who do schedule regular date nights have a strong sense of commitment to each other, and to the relationship itself.

So now that your understanding of the significance of date nights has been reinforced, you just need a few pointers to optimize the effort:

  1. Keep it Simple – Time together doesn’t have to mean chartering a private plane to Paris. The important aspect is that you schedule in the time, taking the necessary steps (getting a babysitter, making a dinner reservation, etc.) to ensure quality time together.
  2. Be Creative – Because with kids, a date involves time and planning, you can use this extra time to think outside the box for the couple time together. Sign up for a dance lesson, plan a Saturday morning hike, or schedule a painting/wine night at a local event. Your date doesn’t always just have to be a fancy meal out (though that is nice sometimes!).
  1. Put the Cell Phones Away – Of course you need to keep your phones ON in case a babysitter must contact you, but otherwise, do not continuously look at your phone, texting, etc. Truly use this date time wisely making the most of the time with your partner.
  1. Look Good! – Go back to that “once upon a time” period mentioned where you always looked your best for dates. These days, with kids, work, etc., that effort often gets pushed aside, but be sure to reinstate it for date time. Even if you’re doing something casual, put in the extra effort to look your best.
  1. Have Fun! – Last but not least, ENJOY your time! Your kids are well cared for, you’re not staring at work emails on your phone, and you have this opportunity to spend valuable time with the person you chose to marry and have children with. Don’t take it for granted, and your spouse will not either.

As you can see, by carving out some time and putting forth a little conscious effort, even as parents, you and your partner don’t have to lose that lovin’ feeling at all. Keeping a focus on your “couplehood” will support a good marriage, and also allow you to come together in a special way to be the best parents you can be to your kids.

And that’s the type of fairy tale that definitely has you all living happily ever after.

 

 

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/winifred-m-reilly/4-reasons-to-put-date-night_b_5667016.html

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

Leave a Reply