I recently saw Heather Kahn Braver on the Today Show with Dr. Lisa Thornton and Rachel Campos-Duffy. The topic was date night, or as Heather calls it, “Save the Marriage Night”. What she said really resonated with me.
Like Heather and her husband, Phil and I go on regular date nights. In fact, we schedule one every single weekend… and we’ve had weekly date nights for over 5 years. It’s not that our marriage isn’t good. It’s not that we don’t like being with our kids. It’s because after 20 years of marriage, 4 kids, the dog, the job, and life in general, we know that it is an absolute must for our relationship.
Life before Date Nights
As I’ve shared in previous posts, we didn’t always have regular date nights. In fact, during our first seven years as parents, there were many years we didn’t have more than two or three dates a year. If you would have asked me, I would have told you that date nights just weren’t possible! I was working full-time until baby number three was born. Phil had a demanding job that required a fair amount of travel. I felt guilty leaving our babies home with my folks or a sitter. It felt wrong to go away during our limited family time on evenings or weekends. Once, when the kids were little, I passed up an all-expense paid trip to Ireland with Phil because I couldn’t bear to leave our babies behind. Now, I wish I would have gone.
In my mind, I hadn’t drawn the connection between spending time as a couple and the health of our relationship. Nurturing was a gift I gave the kids not my marriage. I didn’t recognize the value of date nights. It took us a long time to realize the importance of getting time alone together.
Committing to Save the Marriage Night
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that date nights are vital to our marriage. Date nights change how we feel about ourselves and each other. When I’m on a date, I don’t feel like a Mom. I feel more attractive. I feel energized. And, I feel connected to Phil. We have time to talk about the week and the future. Sure, we discuss the kids. But, we also talk about our plans, schedule, news, and worries. Anything is open for discussion because we know that date night happens regularly.
If we have a week without a date night, we can feel that lack of connection. I am thankful for that level of awareness – that sensitivity – and our strong desire to stay connected. On the other hand, some weeks we manage to have two or three dates! Just to clarify, our dates are often not very glamorous or expensive. For us, Save the marriage night usually means spending a few hours at a coffee shop, going to a movie, or meeting friends for dinner.
The bottom line is Save the Marriage Night is a worthy investment. Our relationship is the foundation of our family. Regular date nights keep our connection strong. It’s so good for our kids to see us modeling the importance of spending time together as a couple. I love that we are showing our kids the importance of date night for Mom and Dad.