Did you laugh at the title? If you’re a parent, likely it provoked some type of emotional reaction. Indifference, desire, laughter…something!
For me, when I hear the term date night I dangle between a chuckle and a frown. The chuckle because it sounds quite idealistic to keep up with dates once the babes arrive and the frown, because I feel like we’ve failed time and again at date night.
I know all too well the importance of prioritizing dates with your spouse, especially once you become parents. Life becomes so busy and your time usurped by responsibilities, it’s important to cultivate and nourish your marriage with dedicated time with one another.
Out of the 10 years David and I have been married, we’ve spent 7 of those years as parents. Those first three years we should have savored every minute of free time, because the words free and time no longer go together!
In my opinion, a healthy marriage can get away with living off of past dates. They become sort of reserved fat that you can pull from when needed.
In Abu Dhabi, as new parents, David and I would reminisce as we lay exhausted on the couch whispering after putting Levi to bed, nervous to even yawn loudly. We’d quietly snicker about what we were doing 4 years ago or how we didn’t have the desire to go out if given the chance. We also had no desire to leave our baby with anyone, we were tiger parents (OK, we’re still helicopter parents)!
Date reminiscing only lasts for so long, you need to start making memories and new experiences together. As new parents, your baby becomes your entire world and you bond deeply over this little person(s) that you made together. Eventually, you reach a point when you look at each other and you can’t remember the last conversation you had that wasn’t about work, money, or your child(ren). You can’t remember the last time you laughed at something that wasn’t about your baby or a viral video of another baby. At which point, I hope you’ve come to the conclusion that ya’ll need to get out!
Here are a few misconceptions I’ve come across as a married mama and a few tips for your reading pleasure, please note I’ve only been a mother for close to 7 years and I’m sharing from that perspective:
Misconception #1: Parents Want to go Out
Nope. Not really. What I’ve found for most of my parental friends, they usually don’t want to go out. When you consider going out as a parent you have a full mental pros and cons list: How far is it? Is it worth my time? Who’s all going to be there? How much money will I spend? What time do I need to be there? Are spanks required? What time will I get home? What do I have going on tomorrow? Going out has to be worth it to parents, because an evening away from our children is rarely experienced without the feelings of worry or guilt.
Tip #1: Accept the Season
For my marriage, the desire for date night outside of our home has transferred between David and I in seasons. Sometimes, I really want to go out, other times, it’s all David. Every time we plan and commit to a weekly date night, we do good for about 6-8 weeks and then the scheduled date night hits and we just want to chill, at home. Our streak is thrown off and we end up dateless for weeks on end.
I remind myself often that we’re in a season of young babes, no sleep and exhaustion. Levi talks a mile a minute and Malachi refuses to sleep away from me for more than 3 hours at a time. This won’t be the case in the years to come. We’re in a season, and all seasons pass. David and I will again be in the season where we have time together, when we don’t want to leave the restaurant by 9 pm and when an enjoyable Friday doesn’t include Netflix.
Misconception #2: You Need a Weekly Date Night
OK, I know I’m going against many marriage and family therapists here, but I feel like the weekly date night can put a huge amount of stress on couples. To the point where people end up pretending and the genuine desire to have this night becomes just another responsibility to tick off the list. Now, I’m not suggesting you throw it completely out the window. I am saying give yourself some grace and as long as you spend time together in whatever capacity that works for your marriage, a weekly, consistent “leave the house date night” may not be the best scenario for you, and that’s okay!
Tip #2: Go Anyways!
There are times your spouse may want to go do something and you absolutely don’t want to go. Go anyways! This has happened more times than I can count in my marriage. I’ve been working on going when requested even when I don’t want to! David doesn’t like going to cafes (crazy right?!) and it’s one of my favorite places to be. I likely get him to put aside his distaste for cafes and go along with me once a month.
Misconception #3: Parents are Jealous of Non-Parents
I’ve seen comments and opinions about this quite often since becoming a parent. The biggest argument to this misconception is connected to time. Parents are jealous of non-parents because of the freedom they have to sleep, drink hot coffee, bath, etc.
So many parents prayed for, worked towards, and sometimes physically, mentally and emotionally went through a great deal to become parents. The idea that we sit around envying the lives of non-parents is quite ludicrous. To be fair, if I had to rephrase this to a more truthful statement for the parents I know it would be: Parents are Jealous of Non-Parents Time. Because that’s all it is; as parents your time is occupied completely by little people, they take up so much space in your heart, your mind and your schedule but in a way that we wouldn’t change for the world. I simply wish I had MORE time! That I could stop time at certain points to savor and commit to memory that first smile, first word, or purposeful kiss.
Tip #3: Be in Agreement
There is nothing worse then going on a date and then arguing! Not only does it totally defeat the purpose of spending time together being affectionate and communicating, but you’re wasting time. What’s brought on the most arguments during a date with us is not being in agreement. For example, David has a plan in his head that he didn’t verbalize and I’m expected to just go along with it, or we can’t agree where to go. The argument list can go on.
What I found to be the best way to avoid a potential argument is to decide who is choosing the location ahead of time, to verbalize any requirements or requests, like when to leave. When we go out, we usually have a nice little signal ahead of time so we both know when one of us is ready to go home. It usually happens around the same time, and the sign isn’t even needed. We simply give a look and we know, it’s time to go!
Tip #4: Date Anytime!
A bonus tip that goes without saying but is always a good reminder, date anytime. Don’t limit your dates to date nights. Nighttime isn’t all that attractive when you become parents. You’re yawning at dinner, the music is too loud, your exhausted and irritable. Don’t force an evening date. Plan your dates in morning or early afternoons when you can. There is way less parental guilt during these times for some reason and you still get to put your babes to bed and get to bed at a decent hour yourself.
We’re currently in a dry season of a weekly date night, but we’re in a season of abundance with watching our little boys grow and play together, as well as spontaneous lunch dates, random conversations and plenty of laughter. Each marriage is so different, enjoy the one you’re in!
What are some of your date tips and/or misconceptions you’ve come across in your marriage?
Mallori, known as Mal, is the creator of 852 Mamas. Originally from California, Mal has lived in Hong Kong for close to 3 years. Mal and her husband of 10 years, David have two beautiful boys: Levi, born 2011 in Abu Dhabi and Malachi born 2017 in Hong Kong.