Life is busy. Time is short. Everyone is exhausted.
Having children around all day (and night?) is a joy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not exhausting. When you add to this other responsibilities – keeping the house (vaguely) tidy, being out one or two or three(!) evenings a week for church, time spent with wider family and friends, work, time to just veg… the list goes on… all of this adds up to a recipe for tiredness.
So when it comes to date night, we can all too easily resort to “sit in front of the telly in the same room as our spouse night” rather than anything more meaningful. Or even worse, they become the night of getting those annoying little jobs done, and our spouse just happens to be in our vicinity doing little jobs too. Who says romance isn’t dead?
But our marriages matter in our parenting – a healthy marriage is a strong foundation on which we can build a healthy family. There are lots of things to consider when we think about building and maintaining a healthy marriage – in this blog post we want to consider how a date night can be an important brick in the building of our marriage.
It seems to us that date nights have increased in popularity in recent years. We don’t remember them really being talked about a decade ago… but we weren’t married then so may not have been paying attention. Not that it’s a bad thing – date nights can be great for marriages.
But busyness and tiredness can result in the death of date night at worst, or for many of us date nights are in critical condition.
This is certainly true for the two of us. Before we had children date night was thoughtful and intentional. Now, it’s usually not. But we want to do something about it. We’re not condemned for our poor date nights – they neither add to nor take anything away from our salvation and Jesus can work in our marriage without date nights. But we think that date nights are a wise tool in the belt of maintaining our marriage.
A good date night can serve as a calm sea in the middle of a stormy week.
It can be a pause for breath in the middle of the breathless sprint of life.
Date nights give married couples the opportunity to take stock – to properly talk and listen. They enable you to address any issues that you’ve not been properly able to address in the busyness of life. On date night you can refocus on your values and priorities in life and see how you’re doing. And, more than that, you can just enjoy each other. You can look into one another’s eyes without the distraction of a thousand other things averting your gaze.
So here are three practical suggestions for creating date nights that serve your marriage.
We’re all guilty of it. We’re in the middle of what’s supposed to be time spent together, and then there’s a little tinkle from our mobile. We can’t help but check – who’s getting in touch? What’s happening in the world? Nothing wrecks the mood quite like it. Once you’ve opened pandora’s box, you want to then have a quick check of your emails… and see what’s happening on Facebook…. and see who’s tweeting…. and – well you get the idea.
The reality is that there’s probably nothing happening that needs to be dealt with right now. There’s nothing that’s so important that it can’t wait a few hours. So switch off. Or at least put your phone to other side of the room so you won’t be tempted to keep checking. Be in the moment, and the moment will be all the sweeter. Give your spouse your attention for this one evening a week – the investment will be worthwhile, and you’ll probably find the break refreshing too.
Do something special
Don’t let date night revert to sit-in-front-of-the-TV night. Try to do something special that will mean you’re spending time interacting together, not just being in the same room as one another.
Special doesn’t have to be expensive. Eat dinner together but dim the lighting, light a few candles, put on some music that’s significant to your relationship and have a glass of wine. Or a hot chocolate with all the trimmings.
Or get a babysitter if you can and do something nice out. That could be something that’s a treat – have dinner; get a cocktail; book into a hotel for the night; go bowling; go dancing; take a pottery-making class; sing karoake. Or go out and do something free – go for a walk; find a secluded spot to watch the sunset; build a den in the woods and have a picnic; go for a bike ride.
Try to do things that will enable you to chat.
Be intentional in your conversation
If you or your spouse aren’t natural conversationalists, be intentional in your conversation. Think before about some topics that you would like to talk about.
Consider what areas of your life you’re finding hard at the moment and decide to figure out the path forward.
Think of a special memory and recount it together – the story of your relationship is a vital part of it’s identity, so take time to re-live it together and celebrate who you are.
Or maybe dream together – think about what you’d like for an aspect of your family – your family’s spiritual life, your financial circumstances, your holiday plans, your characters. Dream together about what you’d like from these areas in 1, 5, 10, 25 years. Think about how you’re going to get there. Pray together about it.
So there we have it. We hope you can see that if we committed to nurturing our relationships through a weekly date night, our marriages could be stronger and our parenting would reap the benefit.
What do you think? Why not share this with your spouse and chat about whether it’s something you could implement, or even take ideas from to strengthen your relationship?
A footnote: We’re careful with this blog to try to make everything gospel-centred. That’s not explicit in this post, but read our introduction to this series to see why think keeping our marriages healthy is important to building gospel-centred parenting. This post very much ties in with that goal.
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