It may sound cliche, but I truly believe that a routine date night is a must for a healthy relationship. In the bustle of day-to-day life that includes going to work, taking care of the kids, cooking dinner, paying bills, watching that coveted tv show, and finding a few hours to sleep, staying connected with your partner can become challenging. Even before having Lyla, Tim and I decided that we would have one night a week to go out and have a nice dinner. Now that we’re parents, we don’t make it out every week, but try to plan an evening at least twice a month.
At first glance, these nights out were just something to look forward to on Friday night (and a break from cooking). Now that it’s been a few years since starting them, I realize the importance date night actually holds. Here are the benefits that I believe come hand in hand with our ritual:
Conversation. Embarrassing as it is, most dinners at home are spent in front of the television after Lyla goes to bed, as we both just need a little mind numbing time after a long day. Date night is different. This is when we put our phones away and actually engage in conversation undistracted. It saddens me to see couples out and both are in zombie mode scrolling through their phones. We exist in a constant state of multi-tasking and distraction. It really takes some mindfulness to break the habit and live in the moment. The art of conversation is something that you don’t want to lose in lieu of 280 characters or less. Date night is a great time to practice actually listening to someone, being respectful, and being an active participant in your time together.
Dress to Impress. As a work from home mom who basically lives in athleisure wear, I enjoy taking some time to get fixed up. I do it for myself (and for the sake of our fellow restaurant patrons), but mostly for Tim. It’s important to not get so comfortable in the comfortableness of marriage that you stop trying to impress one another. I’m not going to put on pearls before he gets home from work each day, but I will gussy up for date night.
Relaxation. There’s something about taking a seat at my favorite wine bar with that first glass that just requires an exhale and an “ahhhh”. Yes, I obviously enjoy the wine, but the stress starts to go away even before my first sip. It’s the atmosphere. The cozy rooms, the murmur of other guests, the promise of an hour or two to just unwind. Thanks to having a wonderful granny nearby, we know Lyla is in great hands. I can allow myself to go out of mommy mode for a short time and reboot.
Budget. Believe it or not, having a date night can actually help you stay on budget. We occasionally will go somewhere casual, but prefer having a nice dinner and usually start the evening at our favorite wine bar or at least at the restaurant’s bar. It’s not difficult to drop $200 on a nice evening out. We balance this by not eating out mindlessly during the week. It’s amazing how frequent trips through the drive thru can add up. Don’t believe me? Add up how much you spent going out to eat last month. If you’re like us before we started a budget, that number may shock you. Packing a lunch during the week and having home-cooked dinners make going out even more special. We look forward to it and have fun selecting the location as we’re usually craving our favorite meal from a certain spot.
Romance. At some point in any long term relationship, the sizzle may start to fizzle. Even in great marriages. It’s another unfortunate side effect of becoming comfortable. The idea of having planned romantic time may seem less than spicy, but spontaneity isn’t as easy as it once was. Having time to not be mom, dad, boss, etc and just be husband and wife allows for some much needed re-connection.
While date night for us means a nice dinner and wine, it can take on so many different forms depending on what you enjoy as a couple. If you’re paying high dollar for a babysitter, then come up with some less expensive ways of treating yourself. Vineyard picnics, casual pubs, heck even a cheeseburger and a stroll downtown can make for an enjoyable time without the guilt of dropping too much money.
Does anyone else have routine date nights? What do you enjoy most about them?