After our marriage had been heading down a dangerous road, fuelled by stress which can often go hand-in-hand with being parents, we made the life-changing decision to start dating again. This has turned our relationship around and we are now on the same page, communicating and enjoying this journey together as a team.
Three months after going on weekly dates, we have learned a few things that can make or break date night. These lessons have now become stead-fast rules for date night that we have agreed on together…
The first rule of date night is: you don’t put too much pressure on date night. Weekly date night is not the time to make (or expect some grand gesture). The purpose of date night is to get out of your home and reconnect on a very basic level.
Sometimes we can get so caught up in the planning, execution or expectation of a spectacular night of surprises and big events, that the actual date can overshadow the most important part: connecting. Plus, the more effort you put into planning every detail, there is more than can go wrong. Take the pressure off, even if that means driving around for a bit before deciding on a restaurant to eat dinner in.
The second rule of date night is: you don’t break the bank on date night. Like many couples, one of our biggest sources of stress and tension is finances. Don’t let date night add to your financial burden.
Communicate what kind of date you can actually afford and choose the activity or restaurant accordingly. Get creative and have a picnic or keep your eye on specials. If you can’t afford a sitter, try doing a babysitting swap with another family. You offer to babysit their kids one night a week and vice-versa.
The third rule of date night is: it is only the two of you on date night. A few weeks back we made the mistake of meeting up with friends on date night. Although it was nice catching up with friends without the interruption of children during our conversation, my husband and I didn’t have any time alone to talk and connect. We could also feel the ripple effect of this throughout the week that followed.
After that night we have made a rule that it is only the two of us on date night. With four kids, this is one of the only times that we really get a chance to listen to the other person, discuss issues that may need to be addressed and make a plan of attack.
The fourth rule of date night is: you have your babysitter come on a weekday evening for date night. For the six years my husband and I have been parents, we have probably had a date once a month, on average. This was typically when one of our parents were available to babysit. But, more and more our weekends are being filled up with family gatherings, kid’s events and getting together with other families. If we were to set a weekly date each weekend, chances are we would probably have to cancel almost every other week due to other commitments.
Knowing we have a trusted babysitter come every Thursday night makes it easy to stick with. Also, having it on a school night usually means that all four kids are in bed before we leave our house at 7p.m. This makes it much easier on the babysitter and us.
The fifth rule of date night is: you are patient when the other person might be “in a funk” on date night. On one particular date night, my husband was in what is best described as a funk. He had had a long day at work and a very long and slow commute home afterwards. He had already suggested cancelling date night earlier in the day, because one of our kids had a cold and he was worried that we’d be called home early because of it. I insisted that we still go and we just stay local.
Once we had ventured out of our house together and my husband was driving around grumbling that he had been driving all day and didn’t know what he wanted for dinner, I insisted that he pull over. At that point I switched places with him, began driving and took control of date night in a very calm, but assertive way. I made the decision about where we were going to eat, and took the pressure off of him.
At the restaurant, I continued to be patient with him and talking without talking his ear off. I also listened when he was ready to talk and acknowledged his mood and let him know that I understood why that was a rough day.
Before rescuing our relationship, I probably would have picked a fight with him and told him he was ruining our night out. Instead, me being patient, taking control and listening, eventually lead to his bad mood disappearing and us ending our date laughing and refreshed.