I’m a big fan of date night.
I love being a momma with all my being, but if I don’t get one-on-one time with my huzzy on a regular basis then I start to get
kind of cranky. Coming back together to reconnect, recharge, and center ourselves on the things that matter most are the life blood to our marriage.
During this season of life where we have three little ones and are tackling a huge home renovation project, date nights look differently then they have in the past. But regardless of what season of life we’ve found ourself in over the years, one thing has remained constant – we carve out time to be together on a regular basis. Period.
When we were young marrieds in college this wasn’t hard because we were poor and had no one to hang out with other than each other anyway. But then we graduated and Mike went to work for a company that required him to travel and suddenly we began seeing each other less and less.
It was that difficult season that forged my commitment to dating my husband.
I discovered that it wasn’t just getting dressed cute and going out for a meal together that mattered so much – although that was a great perk. What mattered about these dates was the intentionality behind them. We gave each other much needed attention. We talked. We laughed. We had FUN. But most importantly, we were together.
It’s not really that hard to fall in love with someone. “What do you mean you like Fruit Loops??? That’s MY FAVORITE CEREAL TOO. Ohmygersh we should get married.”
But liking your spouse when life throws you curveballs and your job sucks and you are stressed about family and money and you wish your hair would look better than it does and you wonder if you’ll ever be able to do all the fabulous things you once thought you’d be doing by now – that’s when it takes a whole lot more than common ground to stay, not just in love, but in like.
The thing about dating your spouse is that it’s like anything else in life – you either make it a priority or you don’t. And when you make it a priority, you’re wiling to get creative. You’re willing to think outside of the box. You’re willing to give and take a little because you know the end result is worth it.
We’ve been married for 12 years now. We have three kids. My husband works three jobs. He is a full time teacher, he is running his own woodworking business, and he is our town’s council treasure. We are renovating the entire first floor of our home. We homeschool. Yada yada yada. You get the picture. The point I’m trying to make is that it’s not like I just sit around by the pool all day waiting for my husband to come home at noon so he can whisk me away for a romantic date that is basically just a continuation of our life of leisure. We could easily be busy doing other things.
We have to work at our marriage, and part of putting in the work is making time for dates. Saying yes to date night means saying no to other things. We don’t do group dates on our date night. We don’t cancel our dates for last minute plans that come up with friends or family. We don’t decide that it would be easier to just get something done at home.
We go on dates because life doesn’t just create magical moments where you suddenly connect with your partner. A good relationship doesn’t just happen. Like anything, love has to be tended. You have to think about it. You have to plan for it. You have to care for it. You have to be intentional.
So, we date.
Right now, life is full of big projects. Big messes. And big, big emotions. I’m super excited to be working on our home, but I’m also super over it. I’m ready for things to be put back together and clean. And I’m ready for my husband to go back to working his normal three jobs, instead of his three jobs plus all the remodeling work that he is also doing all by himself. (Although I would like to point out that I “reinforced the joists” yesterday. I have no idea what that means, but I did it with a big framing nail gun and I feel very proud of myself for all that important joist work.)
All this to say, date night has looked a little different lately, and that’s an important piece to this story. Because it would be easy to toss date night to the side in an attempt to speed up the reno project. But love is a dish best served warm. You can’t let it go cold and then hope to microwave it for later. Projects can wait. My person – my partner in life and love – can’t.
One way that we’ve continued to incorporate dates into our life lately amidst all the chaos is to turn project related errands into spur of the moment dates! These have actually been some of the most fun times I’ve had with Mike this summer. I think it has something to do with the fact that they are so spontaneous and it feels like we are getting away with something. But also, because we are on a mission to buy drywall or get paint or whatever the task may be, there is a laid back feel to the whole thing. I can wear my jeans and tennis shoes. We take Mike’s truck. We grab coffee and maybe even lunch and we dream and talk and laugh together and there isn’t any pressure to have the perfect date experience. We just get to enjoy being together.
Last Friday, the kids went to my parents’ house while Mike and I did some shopping for the reno project. I looked up all the store hours so I knew where we needed to be and when, but then I also looked up restaurants and coffee shops near by. On top of the shopping we were supposed to do, I planned a way for us to be together in a way that we needed to. We ate a great meal together out on a patio in down town Akron. Then we drove down the street to a coffee shop that I’ve been wanting to try. And then, before we had to get back home, we left the car parked in the coffee shop’s parking lot and walked through a few neighborhoods that had some lovely older homes. We talked about our project and we dreamed about bigger projects. We checked in with each other about how we were feeling about life. We talked about the kids and our hopes for our future as a family. We laughed over things that had happened to us separately, but that brought us so much happiness when shared together.
Our evening wasn’t fancy. It wasn’t even what you might first think of when you think about planning a date night. But that’s just it. It doesn’t have to BE anything specific. It just has to include the two people that matter most, and some time carved out to be together.
“Intention” is defined as ‘a person’s designs.’ I love that. I love the idea that we get to “design” our time and our relationship.
I think we are all designing something. We are all empowered to design time and space that cultivates love.
Sometimes, that means designing space at home. There are plenty of times that we can’t get out of the house for a date – either because of time or money or we can’t find a sitter. Or maybe all three of those factors. There are plenty of times where I’m feeling disconnected from my husband and I NEED HIM TO SEE ME but there are three tiny humans running around and bills to pay.
That’s when we date at home.
It’s something that we’ve been doing since those early days when we were broke as a joke and couldn’t afford dates but we did have each other and an apartment and that’s really all we needed. So we’d think of something special to do at home, in the space we already had, using things we already owned. We’d spread a blanket in the back yard and play chess while we listened to some of our favorite music (borrowed from the library), playing from inside our apartment. We took bike rides and walks. We would plan movie nights where I would make fun snacks in lieu of dinner. The point is, we had fun. Because in order to like someone, you have to have fun with them. So while we may have been short on cash, we were flush in fun.
Now that we have kids, I have to get creative again to plan dates at home, but that is part of what makes it fun. I usually cook the kids something quick and easy and then skip bath time and get them to bed at least an hour early. They know the drill, they don’t have to fall asleep, but if they dare leave their room, they will RUE THE DAY they crossed me. I usually prep our date night dinner while I’m cooking the kids’ boxed mac and cheese, so after I get the kids to bed I’ll put the finishing touches on our meal. From there, we might enjoy our dinner out on the patio if weather allows. Or we might put a record on and eat together at our table, enjoying a rare and glorious quiet meal. Sometimes, what matters the most is just eliminating the noise – of the kids, of our to lists, of everything else that is going on, so that we can tune in to each other.
One night not too long ago, we were both tired after a long day of working on the house. The kids had been rough. We felted frustrated. I was tired of the mess and Mike was just tired. When Mike finally came in from working, he asked if we should just go to bed. Without hesitation, I said that I knew what we should do. I got us a movie and a bunch of take out, and we stayed up a little too late and let the fun of the movie and the cheese of the tacos help soothe our stress.
We woke up the next morning still tired, but feeling better about life because we felt better about each other. And that, is the magic of dates. They remind you that you are a “we.” That you are in this thing called life and love and marriage – together.
We do all kinds of dates. We do the get dressed up and eat fabulous food, dates. We do that the take out and movie at home, dates. We do the stay at home and get creative, dates. We turn running errands into impromptu dates. We do the “let’s put a movie on in the van so we can grab Starbucks and sit in the front seats together and talk uninterrupted for 30 minutes,” dates.
The point is, there are no rules for dating your partner, only benefits. The more you cultivate time together, the more you grow to like the person you married. The more you design a life around a marriage, and not a marriage around a life, the more you end up with something you enjoy.
Happy dating, love birds! Feel free to leave me a comment below, telling me your favorite kind of date! ❤