As we turn our calendar pages to February, many couples at least start to think about their plans for Valentine’s Day. I am not a Valentine’s Day person (it’s a long story for another time!) and I hate Prix Fixe menus so we never go out for Valentine’s Day on the actual day itself. For the past couple of years, Valentine’s Day has really sort of faded in terms of its importance, its urgency and the reason why? Date night.
The year we found out we were pregnant with twins, my husband and I had to make some decisions that had major impacts on our relationship. My husband was finishing school for a new degree, searching for a job in his new field, and, when he did get a new job, he took any and all shifts in preparation for the twins’ arrival. He was also starting his own business on the side. Since our oldest was headed to Kindergarten and we were about to have two infants, we knew we couldn’t rely on child care outside our home; it just didn’t make sense. So, when I went back to my teaching job after 4 months on leave, my husband switched to working nights and stayed home with the kids during the day. And so began the hardest year of our marriage.
Yes, we had twin infants and a 5-year-old which can be trying enough for any marriage but we were also like ships passing in the night. I would walk in the door from work and he would hand me two babies and give me an update on the day while I was trying to listen to my kindergartener’s school stories and make bottles. Then, he would grab his bags and head out the door for his store and then the hospital where he would work an overnight before coming home so I could leave for work. It only took about six months before we were fighting more than we ever had before. Our marriage was falling apart and, despite the problems that plagued year nine of our marriage, both of us desperately wanted to save it.
Enter date night.
We reached a breaking point one night where it was literally down to us working this out or us throwing in the towel. He suggested date night every week. That’s where it really started. We blocked out two hours every Wednesday night for that month and we went. Even when we were mad at each other, even when we sat in silence for much of the meal, even when all I wanted to do was cry, we went.
It really was a turning point in our relationship. Eventually, we talked to each other. Eventually, we didn’t even go out to dinner anymore (because $$). Sometimes, we went for a walk in the park. Sometimes, we just grabbed a coffee. Sometimes, we just drove around. But we always went. Every Wednesday night for about three months, we went out together.
Life crept in slowly and now we are only able to get out maybe once a month but those date nights saved our marriage. We reconnected. We were able to talk in a way that we just couldn’t in the house where kids were needed us or dogs were needing us or house and work was needing us. Date night gave us something to look forward to. It gave us time to remember what we loved about us. Those two hours we have together are still the two hours I look forward to the most.
As we enter this month of love, I urge all of the couples to block two hours to be together. Even if you can only do it once a month and even if you have to just watch a movie together in your living room, I promise you that date night is absolutely worth it.