Most standard marriage advice includes carving out time for date night, and along with that expectation of exactly what date night should look like. Maybe even some assumptions about what the husband or wife wants most out of such an event. For most of our marriage, the traditional standing date night wasn’t always doable. Money was tight living on one income, I didn’t leave my breastfeeding babies for long (and I was a nursing mom for almost 13 years, so this was a lifestyle, not a season!) and we were super picky about childcare. Does this mean our marriage is doomed?
But childcare or financial challenges didn’t stop us from investing in our marriage and taking time for us. We may not have been able to go out often, but we did carve out time for us. We figured out what it was we did like to do together. We found ways to say, “You matter, too”. To let the kids know that mom and dad need their time alone, too.
Our modern version of date night is a cultural thing, the Bible doesn’t prescribe date nights as we think of them. But we do read about enjoying the wife of your youth. So our emphasis was pursuing and cherishing each other. Enjoying each other. Growing our intimacy as a couple. Remembering we were “us” first.
Do you want to go out with me?
The essential of the date was not fanciness but connection.
For me, what makes a “date” special is having my husband’s attention. It’s me choosing to give him my attention. So when there are little kids and babies around, or crazy schedules, extra attention is a rare commodity. That’s what makes is so valuable and precious.
In our culture, it’s putting your phone down. Going for a walk (when it’s above 54 degrees). Putting the kids to bed early. Taking a day on the calendar that says “nothing”. It’s having margin worked in to be together as a couple. Sometimes that is the best gift. You, want to spend your time, with just me?
They say necessity is the mother of invention. So in the years that we had more limitations, we learned to get creative and work with what we had. When Joe got home from work, he’d sit on the couch and I’d rub his feet and we’d talk for twenty minutes. Often while the kids ran wild through the house or there was a baby attached to me. Oh, I miss those days. We still called it our time and the kids saw us every day spending that time together.
As they got older, the leash got longer 🙂 and we’d walk through the neighborhood instead. Then we were able to institute our daily coffee date in the morning which has been the backbone of our marriage the past ten years. Fancy it is not, as I’m usually in my pajamas but we both crave that morning connection. We look at those thousands of front porch coffee dates and see all the major life decisions we mulled over, the prayers we prayed together, all the world’s problems we solved, along with the heart issues we each were struggling with. Those are the dates we cherish the most.
Now with our kids all being older, we can just go. We still love hanging out together! We’re still best friends and lovers. That’s something we had to develop in all those mornings and nights that one of us asked, “Do you want to go out with me?”