This is a weekly occurrence in our household.
Hold the phone….wait whhhaattttttt?? You guys do a WEEKLY date night??
Why, yes, yes, we do.
Isn’t that a bit EXCESSIVE? Once a WEEK, EVERY week?
Feels like the bare minimum for us in order to #staymarried.
Oh, your kids must be a lot older then.
Nope, actually, most would consider us still to be in the little years.
These are the conversations I REGULARLY have with my girlfriends and neighbors.
What does it take to actually prioritize date night in your marriage, even in the little years?
For us, it takes a HELLUVA lot of coordination, commitment and dolla dolla bills.
Now before you run off the deep end thinking ohhhhh she’s got a money tree in her backyard, just hear me out (and know there is definitely not a money tree…even though I keep looking 😉 ).
Prioritizing a weekly date night, a standing date night, is something that we learned early on in our marriage as just something married couples did. We learned this from other couples around us in the beginning, who walked the road of infidelity, who had birthed several children and saw how quickly you become roommates – people ahead of us in life who had seen the results of NOT investing in their marriage. And we learned from them. We heeded their advice and wisdom early on that there would be no greater, and harder, investment than our marriage.
And I’m just going to say it: people think we’re crazy.
That’s okay though. I am a little crazy, for many reasons, and I’ve come to terms with that. 🙂
Once a week feels nuts to a lot of people. And that’s fine. Maybe once a week is nuts for you. But I have found that nothing worthwhile just happens, it usually comes from the consistent work you put into it. I’ve heard the phrase, “You get out of it what you put into it” and I think that rings true for our marriage.
Are we perfect? Lord, no! We are two first-borns, running a household of tiny terrorists who both struggle to submit and see the other’s point of view. We are strong-willed and thick-headed in arguments (okay, maybe that’s more me than him, but I digress). Trust me, a weekly date night is the BARE MINIMUM of work that we need to do in order to keep our marriage healthy and thriving.
But Ashley, without a money tree, and frankly without even the help of local family (that’s free!), how is it possible to still maintain a weekly date night?
You have to make it a priority.
That’s it. That’s the magic formula.
So crazy right?
Date Night Blockers
I get it, we’re all SUPER busy. Time is a commodity we all fight for. But the truth is that you can own your calendar, or your calendar will own you. All those activities, dinners with friends, and outside commitments will of course fill up your calendar, unless you make the choice to carve out the time for your marriage. That’s just the reality (that we’ve had to learn the hard way).
We all have what I like to call, blockers. These exist at some level in EVERY family. For example:
- Sick kids
- Demanding work schedules (that may or may not require travel)
- Multiple kid activities
- Early bedtimes
- Nursing babies
- Financial hardship
During newborn years, our dates looked a lot different than they do oftentimes now. How many anniversaries and date nights during baby years, did we simply put the kids to bed early and grab takeout together on the floor? We have cancelled NUMEROUS babysitters, and even trips due to sick kids. We’d bring a third wheel along to the beach with us, on a walk around the neighborhood with us, and sure we’d get interrupted, but a little bit in those seasons was better than nothing.
Consistently analyzing our schedules, what’s working for us and for the other, and making adjustments has been key in each season of parenting as we work on our marriage. What works for us today, did not work for us 5 years ago. Some seasons we need more adventure and other seasons we need more rest. You have to check in with your partner in order to know though, otherwise your dating efforts will be in vain if they are missing the mark for what your partner needs in that particular season.
This will become a habit if you stick with it. Our kids still fight us on it and will regularly cry as we walk out the door for the evening, but we know deep down that offering them the stability of a mom and dad who genuinely love each other is the ultimate gift that we can give them. I want them to see that we work hard and play hard in our family. That we prioritize our commitments; that we place high value and investment on our people above all else.
So I’ve put together a list of date night ideas, big and small, for you to get on the calendar. They don’t have to cost a million dollars and they might require you to get creative with childcare. Re-establish your connection. Truly see them and their needs in each season. Jump through the hoops, finagle the logistics, because I promise you the connection you get on the other side from your spouse will be worth it.
Date Night Ideas
- Bring the third wheel (only if they don’t talk yet) on a walk around the neighborhood. No phones, just walking and talking
- Light a fire, and set up a comfy spot in front of it to discuss your dreams. See what it leads to…(wink, wink)
- Set up a floor bed for a movie marathon somewhere outside of your room, in front of the TV. Make it extra cozy with sleeping bags and wine
- Rotate kid swaps with friends, and go out to a nicer dinner (note: this usually means Chipotle instead of Taco Time for us)
- Run away. Just kidding. Sort of. 😉
- Find a way to serve together. Choose something new and dive in somewhere in your neighborhood or community.
- Discover a new hobby together. If you aren’t sure what some options are, check here.
- Read together. We’re currently in this workbook by Mike Foster, but also highly recommend this daily couple’s devotional by my friend Michelle. If you can’t buy the books, check them out at the library!
- Do a couple’s photoshoot, just you two. Feel awkward, kiss each other, hold hands – and document it all
- Run away. Again, TOTALLY kidding (OR am I?)
- Hire a regular date night sitter. Start creating a rolodex of babysitters that you trust to watch your kids. This will cost you money. Budget for it and make it a thing. We don’t have family nearby most of the year so this has just become a way of life.
- Plan a yearly overnight vacation without kids. This could be camping, to somewhere sunny, destination doesn’t matter – just do it together without the kids.
- No time to plan? There’s a box service that thinks of your dates for you (of course there is) ;)!
This list is not exhaustive by any means, also check out these 30 frugal ideas for some other fun options!