Before becoming fathers, a wise nugget of advice we received was to make sure we took the time to take care of our relationship. Of course that made sense and at first it was easy! Date nights became a regular thing for us. We took turns planning, explored new restaurants, saw new movies or shows, and even met up with other couples for a drink. The idea that we could sustain these beautiful child-free nights throughout our parenting journey seemed feasible. And then (let’s say it in unison my friends) life gets busy.
Date nights took a back seat almost instantly after our second child was born. Finding child care for an infant AND a toddler was a little more complicated. Even when the planets aligned and a date was actually planned, chances were pretty high that some hiccup would force us to cancel – a fever, the runs, a cancelled babysitter. As time passed, it seemed easier and easier to just forget about date nights, put on the ol’ sweatpants, order in some food, open that box of wine, and do our best to not fall asleep while trying to enjoy a Netflix series together.
Date nights became this overrated unicorn and our relationship quickly slipped into the zone of comfortable cohabitating cohorts who sat on opposite ends of the couch. On one particular evening I was saddened over how little we talked anymore. The distance and the silence between us was growing and it was clear that the cycle needed to be broken. So when my husband’s birthday came up, I didn’t think twice and bought us tickets to a show in Stratford.
Begrudgingly, we forced ourselves into some nice clothes and kept our date. At first, it was a bit of a challenge to clear our heads and enjoy the moment. We spent most the drive there unloading about work, talking about our kids, and planned for some upcoming family events. And then, out of the blue, we started to laugh. Conversations slowly shifted and we began talking about future vacations, restaurants we miss going to, and the crazy people in our lives we love.
As the night continued I could feel my shoulders and mind loosening more. I found myself gazing into his eyes more and realized how much we really enjoy spending time together. He was thinking the same thing so we made a promise to bring date nights back into the fold and immediately starting planning the next one.
Making the effort to keep date nights alive is challenging but truly essential. Studies show that parents who go out as little as once a month have a much higher success rate at staying together. Not only does it keep you connected as a loving couple, it shows your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, and gives you the break you need to be a better parent.
So if your relationship is to survive the treacherous road of parenting, put this magazine down and plan a date night – right now!
As appeared in the Frankly Fatherhood column of the February 2019 issue of Mom & Caregiver Magazine