The Pleasures of Date Night (not Balls, part 3)

Date night’s reminder:
“Oh, so that’s why I like you”
She says with a smile
.
At a long week’s end
Four words bring joy when uttered:
“Tonight is date night.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I find date night so important that it deserves 2 haikus. You see, we were married for 9 years before we decided to have children. We were “dual income, no kids” and loved every minute of it. Then one night in bed, I looked at Frank and said “Honey, I want a baby”, and neither of us laughed, so… we began our journey into parenthood.

I have zero regrets about having children. It suits us. We love them. They tolerate us. The dog hasn’t run away. Everyone gets along as much as 4 people who are forced to eat and travel together can. All good signs that we’ll make it through.

The key to our success as parents (and by success I mean that we haven’t harmed each other yet) I think lies fully in our decision when our first was 5 months old to have date nights about twice a month. It is a glorious opportunity for me to remind myself why this man – who makes mind-bending noises and emits smells that cause my eye lashes to molt – would be worth picking again.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m no picnic either. I believe I’m being coy when I ask “So, what did you do today?” when I really mean “What?! You haven’t started dinner yet?” But all memories of that which drives us crazy about each other melts away when the back door clicks shut, and we scurry to the car to make our escape.

So, here are my words of wisdom gleaned from 9 years of date nights:

  • Keep it simple. A cheap meal and walk around the mall holding hands is sometimes the best.
  • Don’t always do a movie… you can sit in the dark and not talk anytime.
  • Have it start early enough that you still get home in time to get a decent night sleep, or whatever you might want to do.
  • Don’t over plan them. 80% of our date nights are decided in the driveway before turning onto our street. We have a few options, decide at the last-minute and don’t sweat it. I tried for a while to plan elaborate date nights (anything that requires a ticket in advance is elaborate for me), but my life is already full of responsibility and decision-making… date night shouldn’t be.
  • Don’t stop. We took a break from date nights after our second child was born – boy did we miss it.
  • Pay for a good sitter. You won’t worry and that’s worth a ton (nothing dulls a date night more than fretting about the kids). There have been times when the budget was such that all we could afford to do that night was pay the sitter – we didn’t care. Our sitter is the best ever: one of our kids’ prior day care teachers who has children of her own, knows CPR and I trust with my kids unquestioningly. As Visa says: Priceless.
  • Related, make the expense a line item in your budget. If you asked me “date night or housekeeper” or “date night or no new purse for 2 years” I would pick date night without hesitation (and then get my mom to buy me a new purse). I plan to be with Frank for the long haul, and I don’t want to be one of those couples who, when married 30 years, does nothing but bitch about each other to anyone who will listen (jokes about body functions don’t count). Date night will prevent this.

Alas, if you were looking for something about how date nights have kept our love life wonderfully alive and hot-hot-hot, well, you missed the part about us being married for nearly 19 years and having 2 kids. That isn’t the point. The point is: I love what we were before we were parents enough to keep tending it.

And so the balls trilogy comes to a close.

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9 Comments

  1. Great trilogy! Better than Star Wars!

    Reply
  2. Amen to this one, sister! My hubby and I have been married for twelve years now (no kids), and we love our date nights. We have special ones like a once-a-month visit to the symphony together (we’re both musicians and met in the college music department). However, most weeks we try to do fun things like go to beer tastings, taking in a concert, or doing other fun things like visiting the museum or the botanical gardens here in town. We also share a love of baseball, which is nice. 🙂 Date nights are a great way to make sure you don’t lose touch with your BFF, and this is great advice for couples who are growing and changing together.

    Reply
  3. Great advice, we’re trying to do the same. Unfortunately not as regularly as I would like, but then I am the stay-at-home mom and hubby is at work all day… At least we’ve got the added bonus of my mother-in-law living with us, so no sitter required.
    PS: Is it anal to point out that this was Mastercard’s slogan? 😉

    Reply
  4. Hello. Came across your blog and really enjoy your writing! My husband and I are the last to hold out. Everyone around us has their 2nd or 3rd kid and all we hear is, “Your life is OVER!” and other such complaints. No one seems happy in their relationships. I think I’ll pass your advice on to them, and when I’m ready to take that step into parenthood, I’ll remember your words of wisdom. Thanks!

    Reply
  5. Thanks for this post; reading it was a bit like looking in a mirror – my wife and I had our first child after 7 years of marriage, she works outside the home, I’m the stay-at-home Dad, we have 3 kids now, and our dogs have not run either (well, they have, but they came back…) We also have 2 guinea pigs and two very cute Russian dwarf hamsters (one of them did recently escape from the Habitrail, but amazingly we found him bedded up under a pile of stuffed animals in the corner of our daughter’s room.)

    My wife and I will take this to heart; we have occasional date nights but need to make it a more mindful part of our lives.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  6. Love this, as a soon-to-be-bride I am all about figuring out how to keep the spark going even though there’s a flame for now, especially with kids, I think you gotta have that special time with the two of you. I think that these are all great ideas and definitely a good sitter is one, plus making it consistent is definitely something you need to do too.

    Reply
  7. Erica Roberts

     /  January 11, 2012

    I’ve been in a long term (and distance) relationship for a while now, and am always looking for advice. (: I found this to be very helpful, thank you!

    I know that, while raising my brother and I, my mum and dad — both morning people — went out for coffee and a hike at least once a week. I always slept in, and we lived a block away from my aunt and uncle, so there wasn’t any trouble. Reading this reminded me of that, and is giving me ideas for my current relationship.

    Reply
  8. Amazing. I just clicked on this post and discovered that you are even more like me than I initially thought. You should read my post from yesterday “7 Subtle Signs We’re Not D.I.N.K.s Anymore.” Decided to have a baby after 10 years of marriage (and 9 years of dating) and he’s about to be two. Keep up the good work. Love your stuff!

    Reply

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