Some of the wisest counsel that I’ve ever been given came from our pediatrician at our very first six-week check up; she told me to make date night a priority. She mentioned that too many couples are splitting up after the kids leave home because they’ve come to the realization that they don’t really know each other anymore. Without the kids at home to fill their schedules, they no longer have much in common. My husband and I determined at that point to make date night a priority.
After thirteen years of marriage, I can tell you that date night is the glue that has kept us close together. Sometimes, date night has been a struggle. It’s not always the convenient thing to do – after all, I spent many of my days wiping bottoms and cleaning burp off my shoulder which doesn’t exactly gear a woman up for a hot night on the town. However, during dental school, when my husband would leave at dawn and return just before midnight, I took comfort in knowing that I’d see him on Friday. If it wasn’t for date night, and making that night a priority in our marriage, we would have been strangers by the time he graduated.
Howard W. Hunter said, “indeed, one of the greatest things a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” I want our kids to learn from our example that marriage takes work, play, forgiveness, time, and a whole lot of hugging and kissing. I hope to sit on a sofa at our 50th anniversary and hear the kids talk about how in love we’ve always been. If I don’t show my kids that my spouse is the most important person in my life, how will they regard their own spouses someday?
To get you started, here are my seven secrets to date night success …
1) – Put it on the calendar! We do what we schedule, not what we plan. Take a red marker and draw a heart on every Friday night, or even every other Friday night. Choose a day that works for you and don’t let anything get in the way. You will both have to say no to things that will come up, but think how loved you’ll feel when your man decides not to shoot hoops with the guys but instead makes you his top priority.
2) – Keep it simple! You won’t always need a five-course dinner and the theatre to call it a date night. Go out for an ice cream cone. Grab a rental movie and bring it back home. Go to the gym and workout together. This is not rocket science.
3) – Have a budget! No matter how little you have to set aside, every couple needs a date night budget. You don’t want to go into debt to date – this will NOT save your marriage. We got creative during our student years and came up with free dates. We walked around Country Club Plaza and toured the fountains. Just do dessert – have you tried the chocolate bag at McCormick & Schmicks? Heaven! We went to the nearest Barnes & Noble in Zona Rosa and chose a recipe out of a cookbook that we would each like to try. You can stop by the library and plan a dream vacation using their travel books and magazines. Find your favorite picture book from your childhood and read it to each other. I absolutely love to hear my husband read “Fox in Sox”!
4) – Try new things! If you haven’t been for a stroll in the Crossroads District during First Fridays, you should go. Visit the local galleries, people watch, enjoy some Kansas City night life. Don’t just patronize your favorite restaurants – branch out and discover new places and new menu selections to love. We accidentally discovered a little French restaurant, Cafe Des Amis, as we walked around downtown Parkville one night. It was the only place still open and they had a dark chocolate mousse posted on their menu outside … they had me at “dark chocolate.”
5) – Babysitting swap! We found another couple to swap babysitting with. Every other Friday night, we alternated between date night and babysitting for our friends. To sweeten the deal, we put our kids to bed around 7:30 or 8 pm and then headed out so that when it was your turn to babysit, you got to sit in your friend’s quiet home while their kids slept. It was the perfect arrangement and made date night so much more affordable.
6) – Share everything! If he wants to take you to the car show, let him – just make sure you get to take him to your favorite cupcake shop. 😉 Luckily, my true love and I share a lot of common interests! Our favorite thing to share on date night is the Hawaiian Rib-eye at Houston’s on the Plaza. (Get it with the house salad and a baked potato and you will not be disappointed.) Sharing your entree makes this a great budget-friendly option. You can also grab a booth at the bar and enjoy their scrumptious spinach artichoke dip!
7) – Slow things down! My favorite date night ever was free, unplanned, and totally unexpected – but completely wonderful. My husband saw my need for some relaxation and a little attention. We put the kids to bed, then grabbed a blanket and sat out under the stars. We talked, we held hands, we slowed down. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and a while, you could miss it.”