Below I will share the lessons I learned from dating my spouse and the shattered expectations that came with it. Plus the importance of having a date night!
This Valentine’s Day give your spouse the gift of committing to date each other. Come up with dates that work for you and your schedule.
We have been married for 10 years this May! Yay, that brings tears to my eyes as I think about the life I have been blessed with and the challenges we’ve had to overcome. Only by the grace of God, seriously!
We have tried implementing date nights since our first year of marriage but we had a lot to learn along the way. Honestly, we are still in process because just as we come up with a system our schedule changes. Sometimes our “date night plan” would work for months at a time and at other times our plan would just flop.
As you read along keep in mind, I have 3 boys under the age of 8 and life can quickly get chaotic here in our home. I say this so you don’t roll your eyes and think well you are a newly wed with no kids, of course you go on dates. Also, I say this because we have gone through stages in our life when it just wasn’t possible and we made the most of it by coming up with creative ways to play at home to stay connected. Above all, as you read this don’t feel guilty instead be encouraged or take this as a challenge. Figure out what works best for you and your spouse!
Before I dive in, this is post is a part of our 14 day series – 14 Days of Busy Moms Dating their Husbands. You can stop by here to see the schedule and all of the amazing post from our 20 awesome mom bloggers.
When my husband was my boyfriend he came up with some awesome dates and I mean he was really creative! One night he took me by the lake and we sat out by the cool water in the hot South and enjoyed the breeze, while we talked, smooched, laughed and my favorite part–danced under the stars! Another time he took me out on the river in a canoe and he had a picnic ready for us. He even had some romantic music set up with speakers. I can go on and on about all of our creative dates but you get the point, he knew how to woo me.
I knew things would change some and that our life would look differently. In a sense we were changing ourselves within these new roles he was a first year teacher in an extremely hard inner city school and I had launched a non-profit organization but still I was taken aback at how much it affected us as a couple.
All that to say I was shocked a year into our marriage when the fun dates stopped. The fun dates were now gone and we did what was easy–movie nights at home. Occasional movie nights at home are fine but if that’s all you’re doing you’ll quickly realize you’re not connecting, talking or learning about each others lives and interests.
As time went on in our marriage his love grew for me, as mine did for him–it had nothing to do with love. Maybe it was that we started to take each other for granted and in the midst of the busyness we just let that priority go.
At first all I felt was hurt. I didn’t say anything to him but I walked around the house on Friday evenings feeling frustrated by his lack of motivation to plan a date night for us.
A New Way to Date
I knew we had to figure out a new way to date, now that we were married, with more responsibilities and a child on the way. I knew I had to let go some of my expectations for what dating my spouse would look like but I didn’t know how until we walked the journey.
As with all things, a little heart to heart and some real communication I was able to express my thoughts and frustrations in this area. We were able to move forward but still with a huge learning curve for both of us.
In my dating my spouse journey, I learned these lessons that I hope encourage you.
Lessons I Learned from Date Nights with My Spouse:
I needed to adjust my expectations to our reality. I needed to look at our current situation and phase of life and not what I romantically envisioned.
My spouse is not a mind reader. You want some thing to be done in a certain way then explain that to him. You don’t want a movie night for every single date night then let him know. Come up with ideas together and schedule them in your calendar don’t just talk about them.
I used to think it was HIS responsibility to plan our date nights. I was crushed when another week would roll in and once again no date night. I took it personal because after all if he loved me enough, he would remember, right. That mindset had to change if I didn’t want to end up a bitter old wife. But I thought he is supposed to woo me, right? WRONG! We are supposed to woo each other. We decided to take turns planning our date night. One of us plans the night and the other gets the sitter and then we would switch. Up to this day, this has worked the best for us.
I expected weekly date nights. But it wasn’t happening with all that we had going on. After three years of trying weekly date nights we realized we are not weekly date night people. So we decided that twice a month worked best for our schedule.
I thought date nights involved going out. It never dawned on me that we could have a date night in that’s creative and not just another movie night. We did this after the kids went to bed or sometimes we would drop them off at the sitters so we could enjoy an evening at home.
I expected special date nights. After all he when we were dating he went out of his way to make our dates extra special. But quickly I realized our budget nor time could manage “special” date nights. I was honest with him from the beginning and told him I don’t do movie date nights. Movies don’t connect us nor do we get to know each other in a deeper way. We managed to get creative with our dates and stay within our budget by taking a little time to checkout our local community calendar. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be special, it can be whatever interest both of you. We have done Italian night, picnic at the park, “It’s your night!” date night (everything we do is chosen by the other person).
Date nights can happen in the day. I actually love our Saturday afternoon dates because we are able to enjoy the outdoors. We go hiking or biking and enjoy a picnic or ice cream together.
There’s never a perfect time for a date night but… There’s never a good time to go out but don’t let that keep you from having a date night. Don’t wait til the baby gets out of the nursing stage, or she doesn’t cry anymore when you leave her, or when he’s not so tired from work, or when you’re not so exhausted from being pregnant, or…… Because before you know it, you’ve grown old and distant. Please make time to connect and have real conversations, laugh together and play together.
Date night will happen when you schedule them and commit to it. Wanting something really bad doesn’t make it a reality–action does! So go schedule in your date nights for the month. Sit down together and look at your schedules and make a commitment to play together. Playing together is not an option if you want to stay together in a healthy marriage.
Activities that involve you “playing: together can deeply connect you to your spouse!”
There will always be excuses, but I hope you choose to seize the day–today. When you don’t have the energy to seize anything, give yourself grace and keep plugging along. Here are some post that encouraged me by real women who have had their share of struggles.
I learned that date nights are NOT “let’s deal with our issues” night. Maybe you can set a time to deal with pressing issues on a certain day but don’t do it on your date night. There was a time that I always made our date night a time to discuss what he was doing wrong, how we could improve, etc… and that only made him dread our time together. Enjoy yourself and save your date night for playing and enjoying each other.
I learned that we love playing together. Date nights are about playing together and learning how to play as a team. It’s about discovering more about each other and even learning together. Learn something new on your date night, try a fun activity you would normally not do.
I have made this 12 Months of Dates kit that will help those who want to be intentional with their dates but don’t know where to start. You can find it HERE.
Why have a Date Night?
Marriage is an amazingly beautiful and hard journey to embark on. I think back to our most challenging “phases of life” and I can’t even imagine walking through the “torrential storms” alone without him. So hand in hand we move forward sometimes at each others throat, sometimes merrily skipping through life but most importantly always trying to enjoy our little blessings. I don’t think I would be able to say this if we had not stopped to reconnect and nourished our relationship along the way with our dates.
Reason #1 – To connect. I was reading a blog and the blogger stated that she didn’t believe in date nights but when she went on to describe what she did it was dating her husband. So if you’re against using the term “dating my spouse” then call it something else but don’t stop making intentional time to connect just because you’re against the term “date nights” or leaving your home to connect.
One of the most important lessons that I learned early on in my marriage was this,
“Marriage and parenthood are filled with “phases and stages” so learn to blossom in them.”
I share this with you because you may find yourself in a challenging phase or stage of life right now but don’t give up. I encourage you to grow in the midst of it! There is beauty and strength to be found at the end of the struggle. You both come out stronger when you become deliberate and fight for your marriage. Believe me the challenging times in my life have bonded us in ways we would not have ever imagined.
Reason #2 – You need each other. Not just a roomie version but you need to make intentional time for your friend and soul mate.
Reason #3 Your children need to know that you make time for each other not just for them. Set an example for them of what it looks like to deliberately love your spouse. Let them see what it looks like to play and enjoy your spouse.
Reason #4 When we stop working on our relationship we start growing apart.
I share over here Date Nights: How to Make them Work and Stick (plus calendar sticker printables)
The other lovely bloggers joining in this series are (to see the schedule of post go here): Kids Activities Blog, My Nearest And Dearest, Pleasantest Thing, Play Dr Mom, Glittering Muffins, Inspired By Family Mag, Mama Miss, Life At The Zoo, Toddling Into Madness, Sense of Wonder, Educators Spin on It, Little Aritsits, Home Learning Journey, Frogs And Snails and Puppy dog Tails, Pragmatic Mom, The Good Long Road, Mamas Like Me, Kids Stuff World , Toddler Approved and Adventures in Mommydom
Other post you may enjoy:
Loving Your Man When It Hurts Series -Real Women Sharing from all stages of life
DIY Paper Bag Lanterns for a quick romantic dinner
DIY Valentines Day Photo Holder – Simple and Beautiful