Why Date Nights After Kids Are a Priority
Ah, dating. It all starts with one person thinking another person is sorta-kinda worth spending more time with than everyone else around. It leads to every weekend at the movies, eating out, walking around stores, planning every moment you can...together. Eventually, all these dates turn into love, love produces a marriage, and you know the rest. Then comes baby in a baby carriage.
Okay, so everyone’s story isn’t always in that order, or even in that simple. But if you’re here to read about date nights after having kids, then you most likely had a story that resulted in marriage and parenthood.
Parenthood is, without question, one of the greatest blessings a couple can receive. It is a new chapter in your marriage that can expand your love for your spouse as you see them take on parenting. Likewise, it can also put a damper on the freedom you were accustomed to.
Do you ever think back to life B.C. (before children)? Do wonder why you even called any night a “date” when practically EVERYTHING you did alone as a couple would now easily qualify for a date?
Walking around Target with your significant other at 8:00 pm? Yeah, that’s a dream at this point.
Eating fast food and working on a puzzle without anyone chewing on the puzzle pieces or begging you to sit on your lap and eat your fries? Yeah, that’s a date.
Cooking together and eating dinner alone together? That was our typical night before kids. Now I call it a date if my husband and I end up alone at the table for any reason.
And yet, even in our life before kids, we still made reservations, got dressed up, and went out to eat to call it a “date.” We went on a pre-kid zoo date just because. That’s right—a no stroller, no whining, walk-at-a-normal pace without carrying or chasing anyone zoo trip.
So, why is it that when these little humans come and take over our lives, we let them take over our marriage too? When you get married, it’s because you want to love that person forever. It’s because you see a future with them. But marriage wasn't intended to have kids and never spend time alone ever again. In fact, if that were the sole purpose of marriage, wedding venues wouldn’t be so rapidly booked.
But it happens. I’ll be the first to admit that as parents of the firstborn grandchild on both sides of our family (who ALL live in the same city), I had a hard time getting myself to leave him. We had some quick movie dates and work parties, but nothing longer than a couple of hours thanks to a fun nursing/pumping schedule.
When our son turned one, we hit a rough spot in our marriage where some real deep conversations were bringing up some overdue talks and emotions to the table. I realized how much I prioritized my baby, even in the midst of checking my phone for updates on our random dates.
We made a promise to each other one night. Monthly date nights. And we are 3.5 years strong since that promise. Sometimes, the kids are gone overnight, sometimes it’s just for a couple of hours, but there is ALWAYS a date night to look forward to each month.
So how do you beat the guilt of leaving those babies behind? How do you hand over specific bedtime routines, medical and nutrition needs, and behavior expectations knowing very well that no one will care for your child the EXACT way you do?
I could list "tips for making date nights a priority" but let me sum it up in this one tip: your kids will benefit from having two parents who love each other till death do they part setting the example of marriage for them at a young age.
I am beyond blessed to never run out of babysitters with just my family alone, but I realize that is not the case for everyone. I know plenty of couples who don't have family in the same city, or even in the same state. I know families who travel together year round. Yeah, forget finding a steady and reliable babysitter! If you trust anyone to watch your kids for even just three hours, then you don't have an excuse for not making date nights outside of the home happen. Hectic schedules and the guilt of leaving kids are not valid reasons for never making time for your spouse. They are really excuses and lack of planning.
My husband chimed in with this thought in a similar discussion with friends, and it has stuck with me. The Bible speaks loudly about the love between spouses. It also instructs husbands to love their wives, as Jesus Christ loves His church. Imagine Jesus deciding that the only time he would give to you would be at church, and church alone. Vice versa, we know when we are only giving God time at church and not alone at home. Our relationship reflects that. Likewise, our marriages are meant to embody that relationship. Time alone is key to a healthy and vital relationship.
To give a blanket statement of how many date nights qualify for a happy marriage is unlogical. For us, once a month is feasible and refreshing. Sometimes we are lucky to squeeze in more, but the minimum agreement is one per month. Maybe your marriage needs more, maybe you both can thrive off of less. Either way, you should open the conversation of making dates a priority and see what you agree on together.
Maybe it's once every couple of months or date night in after the kids go to bed. Maybe your kids are about to start school, and you can coordinate lunch dates. The point is if you are making time alone special and important, your relationship will profit and your kids will benefit from a loving family foundation.