Do you know why it’s so hard to plan a date night? I do. I figured it out last week.
Nate and I decided we’ll commit to two date nights every month. So far we’ve been really good about it this year! I remember in my early years of marriage hearing couples say how they were “trying to do more date nights” and thinking, what’s the big deal?
But now that we’re nearly 6 (!!) years into marriage and have two little boys living in our house, I wholeheartedly understand the struggle. You must plan ahead, because leaving the house requires booking a babysitter. And honestly? Some nights I’ve planned ahead for a date night, and when that Thursday evening rolls around I’d just honestly rather stay at home in comfies and watch a movie on the couch instead of getting dressed and heading out on a dark evening to drive downtown for a dinner reservation. (Am I old yet?)
Consistent date nights require three things
The first two are planning ahead, and an equal amount of follow through. Those are hard things to do when it feels like 98% of my energy goes to my two children. (I’ll get to the third thing in just a second.)
But here’s what I’ve found from our first few months of consistent dates in 2023: some of the dates are amazing, full of heartfelt conversation and a sense of connection. And some of them are a slog where the convo feels hard, and honestly I’m just watching the clock tick by and thinking of how much I’ll need to pay the babysitter once we get back home. BUT…it all adds up and it all makes a difference. Even those dinners when Nate and I are both just exhausted and mostly want to watch a Netflix show at home…we’re still adding to our collective bank of meaningful experiences together.
Last week we went downtown to check out Luminaire, the new restaurant from San Antonio chef Steve McHugh. I love checking out new restaurants, and I love eating dinner with Nate. Honestly, those are two of my very favorite things in life. But last week, I just wasn’t feeling like leaving the house… It was cold and dark and windy and I felt like having a cozy evening at home! But we spend nearly every evening these days in our house after the kids go to bed, and forming meaningful experiences together outside of the house has been something that Nate and I have really been missing from our “pre-kid days,” so the sitter arrived and we left and went downtown for the dinner.
And I’ll be honest: it was fine! It was not our most riveting conversation or our most romantic dinner, or even the most fun night of the week. Some date nights are just like that. It’s kind of putting too much pressure on these nights to think the they’ll ALWAYS be the BEST, right?
Instead, I appreciated the evening. I felt happy that I was with Nate, eating delicious food, and trying something new together. That’s it. And that brings me to the third thing that’s helping my stay consistent with date nights in marriage: no pressure. Some nights will be a new blouse and a cocktail bar and a romantic evening. Some nights will be us trying to find conversation while not falling asleep at the table because the kids were just soooo exhausting that day. Life is a mix of both!
I still fairly young and inexperienced in marriage, so I can’t say that being consistent with date nights experiences is the key to anything at all. But I do know that the alternative (the dull predictability of the alternative, which is putting the boys to bed, tidying up the kitchen, watching a show, reading a book, etc.) is comfortably complacent. I know that we’ll spend time in one another’s company, but we probably won’t have any meaningful conversations, and we won’t get to know one another better or differently.
So that’s why Nate and I are both valuing date nights during this season. For us, getting out of the house is key, but I know that some people with young kids at home find ways to do date night at home (takeout, cheese boards, a homemade cocktail.) I’ve just found that, if I’m at home, I’ll want to lay on the couch and watch a movie, which feels like any other night!