I remember our last date. We went out for coffee. Late. First we had to make sure our baby was asleep. We stayed for about an hour before heading back.
It was Christmastime. In Toronto. In 2010.
Yup, I said it. Our last date was a year and a half ago.
Since that date, we have done a few things without our kids. A year ago we spent our first night away from our boy when we were photographers at a wedding. We were given a cottage and had a lovely time, but it was work. And this past Christmas we hired a babysitter to watch Cameron so Dan and I could sneak away to a work Christmas party. A nice (short) evening, but again, work. We also tried to maintain a once-a-month lunch date while we were both in the workforce, but romance is lost when a date finishes by returning to separate cubicles.
It isn’t that we don’t find dating important. Speaking for myself, I rank dating as high as sex in a marriage. I desire intimacy outside of the bedroom so that intimacy inside the bedroom comes a little more naturally. But, like sex, when you throw a child or two into the mix, it is hard to find the time or the energy to maintain a healthy dating relationship.
Dating while Parent is particularly tough for a number of reasons. I think the biggest thing holding us back lately has been finances. It isn’t that we don’t spend money, it is just that it is hard to justify spending money on “frivolous” entertainment. Even if we managed to plan cheaper dates, by the time babysitter fees are thrown in, the budget date night becomes cost-prohibitive again.
That brings up the second reason Dating while Parent is hard. Babysitters. It isn’t the babysitters themselves that are the problem. No, it is the anxiety from leaving children with a babysitter. When you don’t do it often, leaving your kids with someone unfamiliar makes it hard to say goodbye. And parents cannot focus on each other if they spend the entire date worrying about their kids.
For me, the anxiety reaches beyond the babysitter. If I am to invite a babysitter over, then my house needs to be cleaner, lest I be judged. So on top of all the date prep that needs to happen, a major house clean is on the schedule for any date nights.
With all of this weighing on us, dating just hasn’t even seemed possible recently.
These reasons, although legitimate, shouldn’t keep a loving couple from spending quality alone time together. It is all about priorities, and not dating means our priorities have been misplaced lately. When a couple prioritizes their marriage, the family grows closer and the kids are better off.
As our anniversary rolled around this year, I told Dan that the only thing I wanted was a date. Just a nice evening out together alone was all that I needed. And I wanted him to plan it. I wanted to be romanced.
We don’t have immediate family in town, but we are lucky to have family only a province away who enjoy travelling. I told my parents that the next time they visited, they were going to be spending the evening with the boys. They decided to visit the weekend after our anniversary so we could celebrate.
The evening was lovely. I slapped some makeup on for the first time since February (!!!). I rocked a dress and ripped up my feet in a pair of heels that are vastly different from the sneakers I usually wear. We went to the restaurant where we had our first date seven years ago and then indulged in dessert at a little dessert bar.
And we just spent time celebrating each other.
“You know I can’t wait another year and a half to do this again, right?”
So, here is my challenge to you. Think about when your last date was. Talk to your spouse about how you can better prioritize quality alone time. And then decide how often you should date. Use creativity to get around those excuses that keep you home.
Three months. That’s when we’re planning our next date night for.
When was your last date? Do you find it easy or hard to date your spouse?