Need a Night Out?
Moms and dads, remember life before kids? Going to happy hour, taking long walks on a Saturday morning, stopping at a coffee shop, going away for the weekend… And now, you are probably lucky to get a five-minute conversation in before you both fall asleep watching Netflix at 10:00 in the evening. Parenting can suck the life out of a marriage if you don’t make time for it—for each other.
Setting apart a regular night (once a week, or even once a month) to reconnect with your spouse says something to each other. It’s a way of saying, “Hi. Remember me? I remember you. I miss you. I love you. I need you. Our marriage matters.”
Far too often, we prioritize our kids so much that we forget the person who was there before the kids. No wonder that 20 years later, when the kids are gone, many couples look at each other and don’t remember how to enjoy life together. Some couples find they don't even like each other anymore. How heartbreaking! But nurturing your marriage throughout the child-raising years can help set you up for a strong marriage to last a lifetime.
The great thing about date night is that it can be very simple. Don’t have a babysitter or can’t afford one? A fancy night out not in the budget? That’s okay. Sometimes date night can be cooking a later dinner together after the kids are in bed and sitting at the table together over a cheap bottle of wine. Just looking at each other and hearing about each other’s day can strengthen the ties. Or look at dream vacations together online, snuggled up on the couch. Maybe you’ll never go. But dreaming together is good for the soul of a marriage.
The key to a good date night is to eliminate distraction and have a real conversation. Think about how much time you had to talk before kids and try to get back there. Put your phones away, hold hands and spend real quality time together—even if only for an hour or two. If date night turns into sitting on opposite couches and watching TV, well that probably wasn’t much of a date. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with separate TV watching. Many nights are like that for married couples. But if you’re setting aside a date night to reconnect, then you have to actually reconnect.
One great date night idea is to scroll through Groupon or Living Social. Grab a coupon for a new restaurant or experience like an escape room or pub crawl. You and your spouse will make memories doing something new and remembering your younger selves.
Like wine and beer? Hit up a winery or brewery for a tasting! You can learn about each other’s favorite beers and wines and keep them in the back of your mind for the future when you want to surprise each other to celebrate after a promotion or to cheer each other up after a bad day.
If you both like house projects, do them together! Paint a room or refurbish some old furniture together after the kids are asleep. You'll end up talking for a couple hours as you create a new masterpiece you both can be proud of.
Going for a walk or a jog is another great way to connect. For couples into more intense fitness, training for a shared race or fitness event means lots of time together too—and you’re doing something for your health.
You also can alternate, letting each person plan the date and keep it a surprise. The person in charge can choose whether it’s a stay-in or go-out event. He/she can book the sitter (if needed) and do all the planning. Wondering what your spouse will plan next can be exciting and reignite the spark in your marriage.
If nights don’t work well for your schedule, try day dates! Go hiking, biking, grab lunch or visit some open houses just for fun. You can reconnect and spend quality time with your spouse any time of the day.
Matt Garrett of Relationships Australia explains the importance of nurturing marriage in this effective analogy in the Huffington Post: “It's like if you have a car, you want to make sure you are topping up the oil and water regularly, rather than waiting for it to conk out on the freeway.”
And it’s when that relationship conks that married couples often feel like it’s too late. They didn’t top off the oil and water. Instead, they drained the life out of the car until it died on the side of the road.
Put a date on the calendar, parents! Set a budget if you need to. But make it a priority because your marriage deserves it.
Date night ideas in Kansas City:
- Breakout KC or Tick Tock Escapes. Can you escape in time? Read our review of Tick Tock Escapes here.
- Take a cooking class and enhance your cooking skills beyond chicken nuggets and mac and cheese!
- Tour the Roasterie and enjoy a deliciously hot cup of coffee together.
- Get some exercise and fresh air at one of the many beautiful outdoor parks or gardens in the KC area. The Overland Park Arboretum, Shawnee Mission Park or Loose Park are all perfect day date locations for a walk with your main squeeze.
- If you can get away for an entire day, take a mini-day trip to a city like Weston or Parkville. Hit some antique shops and local parks and eateries as you spend an entire day reconnecting.
Karen Johnson has three kids, ages 8, 6 and 4. She writes at The21stCenturySAHM.com.