Date Night . . . we often hear about how important it is to maintain purposeful dates with our spouse, but many of us (at least from the feedback I’ve received) are stuck on how to keep dates with our spouse fresh and fun. Or even how to fit them in to the schedule of work, kids activities, medical appointments and therapies, etc. I don’t claim to have the specific answer to your dilemma, but I am happy to share a bit about our dates, and the ideas of others.
Jerry and I tried the every Friday night, or the 2nd and 4th Friday or Saturday, and several other combinations of days that we always had a hard time remembering. Then we fell upon this idea. We were married on the 11th of the month. We now keep the 11th of every month as our date time. This has worked for us because the 11th of the month changes days of the week, so we have lots of options to consider month to month. Jerry is responsible for planning the date on the odd months, and I plan the even months. This means that if one month the chosen date is not our preference, the next month will be. The 11th of the month is a sacred day in our calendars, and we rarely let anything else interfere, unless we both agree and reschedule our date.
Dating on the day of the month we were married reminds us that we made a commitment to one another that we want to continue to honor. We call it our “Month-a-Versary.” Because we are competitive we have made a contest out of who can say “Happy Month-A-Versary” to each other first on the 11th of the month. We’ve been known to stay up until midnight and wake or text the other just to be able to win that month. I’ve written it with lipstick on the bathroom mirror and timestamped it so when he got up in the morning he saw I greeted first! Silly and Sappy? Yes. But something that is just us is really important.
Early in our marriage, probably for the first 5 years we pulled out copies of the vows we wrote for our wedding ceremony and read them again to each other on our dates. It was a great way to check ourselves against what we said we would do, and what we are doing. It also cemented our vows into our hearts and minds.
Sometimes on our dates we stay home and watch a movie, or we may go out to dinner with another couple, watch the video of our wedding, go for a walk, play a table game, or spend some time dreaming together about a vacation we want to take, or how we want our retirement years to look. The key is that we don’t talk work, finances, or bring up issues. We just spend some time together.
Over the years we have now added a second monthly date. It is a little more flexible, and sometimes is used for times we need to talk through something. Or we may read a book together and discuss it, share a deeper Bible study, etc.
My best encouragement to you – don’t get hung up over how often you have a date each month, or exactly when, or what you do. Find something that works for you and your family and give it a try for a few months and then adapt as needed.
Teresa shares that when her girls started preschool she and her husband found that a date “night” wasn’t realistic, so they committed to Thursday lunch dates together each week. If I am not mistaken, the youngest girls are now about 18 and Teresa and her husband still share Thursday lunch dates. There is nothing wrong with a day time date.
For some there is no room in the budget to hire a babysitter, caregiver or respite worker to allow you to leave the house for a date. It won’t serve anyone if you go bankrupt to have a date. Some couples have found that putting their younger kids to bed earlier one night a week and then they have dinner delivered works for them.
As the kids get older, is there some special treat they would enjoy (e.g. a special movie night? Or video game?) that they only get to access when Mom and Dad have a date? You can stay home and maybe have a special dinner together, or share a long leisurely cup of coffee and dessert while the kids think they won by getting to spend their time in a way different than usual.
If extended family lives nearby will they take the kids one night a week or month (who doesn’t like to go to their aunt’s or grandma’s and get spoiled one night!)? If so, try not to use that time to accomplish house projects, grocery shop etc. Or at least not the full time. Be sure to include some time with your beloved spouse.
Notice that it took us awhile of doing once a month dates before we started twice a month. Be sure you start out realistically for you and your family. The value of a date is that it gives time for you and your spouse to connect. To remind one another that though you may not get as much alone time as you’d like, he/she is still in your thoughts and you want to be with them.
I know these thoughts are not exhaustive. What have you tried? What is a favorite date you’ve shared with your spouse? Nothing is too simple, silly or sappy. Please share your ideas so we can all improve our dates.