Dates are AWESOME! I love getting to go out with Julia…just the two of us. Some of our favorite activities are watching a movie, going to dinner, going to a coffee shop, window shopping, going to a bookstore to hang out, or going to a concert. When we first got married, we would take dates pretty regularly, but after Eli was born our date frequency plummeted!
When you have kids, it can be very difficult to have a healthy dating life. Sometimes it is hard to find good babysitters. Assuming you can find them, the cost adds up quickly. If you have the money to cover dinner and a movie, now you have to add on 5 hours of babysitting on top of it. It is easy to think…it would be so much easier (and cheaper) just to stay at home. As a result, many couples just stop taking dates.
I believe one of the most important aspects to keeping a marriage healthy is to have quality time together. Everyone is different in what that quality time looks like, but a common trait that is shared is that you have time together…on your own. When you sit down at a restaurant, you have a chance to talk about things you wouldn’t normally think of talking about. You’re no longer distracted by TV, or kids, or email, or chores. As a result, there is the chance for a deeper connection. You can talk about what’s going on in your lives to a degree that you can’t when you’re sitting around the table at home with kids.
A couple years ago, I realized I had failed at being a leader in this area of our marriage. Julia and I would occasionally go on dates (once every month or two), but it was only when it was really convenient and when my parents were free to watch Eli. I decided that I needed to make this a priority. So I made a few changes…
1. Increased “Dates” Budget:
We rearranged our monthly budget to basically triple our “Dates” category. As a result, we had money to hire a babysitter when we needed it, and my new goal was to go out on a date at least twice per month. **Sidenote…if you don’t have a Dates category in your budget, that’s a good place to start!***
2. Started At-Home Dates
In addition to our out on the town dates, I started scheduling “at-home dates”. Basically it’s a night you devote to doing something different and special with just you two…but you do it at home. Sometimes we’ll eat with Eli, or sometimes we’ll wait to eat together after he goes to bed. Either way, I’ll plan and cook something nice for dinner. But, then after he’s in bed, I’ll have something planned that is different from the norm. Game nights, read a book to each other, put together a puzzle, watch a movie, discussion questions, etc. These are easy to do, they don’t cost anything, and are a lot of fun!
3. Made it MY Responsibility
I also made it MY responsibility to make sure we scheduled dates. At any given time, I have 3-4 months worth of dates already scheduled on our family calendar. If something comes up…sorry that’s date night…my Baby comes first! Or if it really makes sense to do something else, we’ll make sure to reschedule it to a different night.
Make sure you make dating your wife a priority. Date the heck out of her! If you find you’re in a rut…doing the same thing every time, mix it up by going to new restaurants, events, or activities. A good marriage cannot stay good without quality time together. And dating is a great way to help with that.