Think Outside The Date Night
I’m not a fan of date nights.
How does that make sense? As a mother of four small children who loves her husband and would love to spend more quality time with him, shouldn’t I adore date nights? Shouldn’t I want more of them? Date nights seem to be the most commonly recommended solution for anyone seeking reconnection with their spouse. “Your marriage has been struggling lately? Well, have you tried a date night?” No. No, I haven’t. Because I’m not a fan of date nights, and here's why:
1. Date nights come with a lot of pressure. It’s a date night! Woo hoo! A WHOLE EVENING to spend entirely alone with my spouse! What should we do? Well, we’ve hired a babysitter, so we have to make the most of our time, because time is now money. We have to go all out and dress up and put on makeup and eat out some place nice and do our hair and look our best and feel our best and ugh! I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Can I attend date night in my sweat pants smeared with the macaroni and cheese my children ate for lunch with my sticky hair in a mom bun after not showering for three days? No? Then I’m going to require at least 2 hours of pre-date-night prep to effectively transform this pumpkin into a horse drawn carriage. Between cleaning the house, picking up the babysitter, describing the twenty step bedtime routine to the babysitter, showing the babysitter where we keep the bandaids, emergency numbers, and netflix password, feeding the kids, and googling what I should do on this date we’ve failed to plan ahead of time, I’m only realistically going to scrape together twenty minutes of primping time. Not that that adds to the pressure or anything.
2. Date nights are expensive. First, we need a babysitter. Which cannot just be another mom friend because it’s evening and she has her own kids to wrangle into bed and routines to follow. It could be a relative, but unfortunately most of our relatives live a few hours away, which means if they come over to watch our kids in the late evening, they’re going to have to spend the night, and that’s an extra hassle. My kids cannot simply be dropped off somewhere because they all need to get to bed at a reasonable hour in their own beds or they lose it and their entire sleep routine goes out the window, and that’s fun for no one. So we inevitably hire a babysitter. And then, after dropping $50+ on a sitter for one evening out, we inevitably spend another $50+ on dinner and more if we plan to do anything fun while out. The average date night can easily cost anywhere from $100 to $200.
3. Evening is our worst time of day. As two hard working parents of four children, by the end of the day, we are exhausted. Come seven o’clock, all we want to do is crawl into bed or vegetate on the couch in front of the television. We are often as cranky as we are lethargic. Combine this fatigue with the pressure to have a good time and we end up forcing ourselves through delicious dinners and evening events stifling yawns and struggling to come up with conversation topics because our brains are too tired to think. My husband and I endured a lot of obligatory date nights “for the sake of our marriage” before we discovered a solution that worked much, much better for nourishing our relationship. Now, instead of “date nights,” my husband and I have “date mornings!” We find that the obstacles we face with date nights disappear with a simple time change:
1. Date mornings are pressure free! Mornings do not come with the burdensome expectation of deep dark romance. Mornings are light and fun. On a saturday morning, we can wake up renewed, shower immediately without the accumulated crud of the day to wash away, take a bit more time primping, and dress for comfort and adventure rather than fancy and romance.
2. Date mornings are cheap! First, we need a babysitter. But since it’s a saturday morning, we have a lot of options! Many of our friends are just hanging around at home with their kids on saturday morning. Without bedtimes and strict routines to attend to, they won’t mind us dropping our kids off at their house for a play date while we go out for a couple of hours! They can do the same to us on a different weekend! Or one of our relatives can come and watch the kids for free! Grandma can spend the entire morning and early afternoon with the kids and not have to worry about driving home late at night! Simple. Lunch is also cheaper than dinner and, thanks to the plethora of events that happen regularly in our city, we can almost always find something laid back and entertaining to do.
3. Morning is our best time of day. We are energized and ready to have fun! Conversation flows easily as we enjoy each other’s company while exploring our city. No stifled yawns and yearning for our beds!
For a long time, the pressure, expense, and inconvenience of date nights kept us from prioritizing our relationship. We wanted to spend time together without the kids, but couldn’t because we were always too tired or too poor or too cranky for a date night. Maybe you’re in a similar spot. If you find yourself constantly unable to “get away” for a date night, rethink the date night! How else can you spend quality time with your spouse? Maybe alter the time and try a date morning or afternoon. Or remove the intense pressure to cram all of your fun into one evening and spread your dates into entire weekends. If money is the issue, can you date your spouse without ever leaving your house? My husband and I sometimes play strategy board games after our kids go to bed, or snuggle on the couch with some popcorn and a good movie.
Whatever you choose to do with your spouse to strengthen your marriage, remember the strongest of marriages don’t just involve two people, but three. While we all do our best to make time for our spouse, making time to pray and worship with our spouse will go further in strengthening this relationship than any date night (or date morning) ever could.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12