I am not going to lie. After this summer of busyness, morning (or all day) sickness, and Mtn Papa away fighting fires more than he ever has since I met him, I am ready for the chance to take off my “mommy hat” for a while and just be a wife. I knew that Alyssa and her husband, Chris, of The Kid Project, were really great about taking unconventional (think: something beyond dinner and a movie) regular date nights so I turned to her for some inspiration. Because fall and the end to the craziness has to come around sometime, right?!?! Please read all the way to the end for some more information about this great couple and where to find them! And, as always, please feel free to leave some love and feedback in the comments!
Last week I stood on stage, watching my dear friend “walk her aisle.” Gorgeous in white. Smile glowing. And maybe a little nervousness in her eyes that all of us who “have walked down our own aisle” totally understand. I was filled with overwhelming excitement for them. My husband summed up my feeling well when he confided in me, “The only feeling of ‘disenchanted-ness’ I have when watching friends get married is that I know it will be awhile before they are having as much fun as we are!” I agree, we are having way more fun after eight and a half years of marriage than we did those first few years.
I recall words I wrote awhile back, from a different time and a different wedding:
“I was sitting on a comfortable cushioned pew. In a not so comfortable dress, watching two dear friends “walk down the aisle.” I saw the doting-soon-to-be-husband and the teary eyed bride. Tears of my own shot to my eyes. Not tears of joy though. All I could think was, “They have no idea…this is as good as it gets.” We’d been married two years and I was hurting. I was disenchanted. Discouraged. Critical. Ugh. It makes me sigh out loud just typing it.”
So how do we stay in love? How do we have more fun the longer we are married? I am not claiming to have all the answers. But I will share one of ours: date nights.
Till Death Do We Date Night
My husband and I are religious about our date nights. We didn’t used to be. Sickness, vacation and busyness, can all disrupt the date-night-schedule. But for the most part we have our one-night-a-week to set our parent hats on the front stoop and just be man and wife. As a mom this is incredibly freeing because truthfully? The mommy hat rarely comes off. The mommy hat often trumps the wife hat. It stays on through triathlon training, school, chores, and trips. It stays on when everyone is sick…even when I am sick. The mommy hat stays on when we are hiking and camping and especially climbing. But on date night I can take it off.
We can go to dinner and instead of refereeing the most recent fight over the sugar packets and telling our son to “sit on his bottom” for the 657th time, we can look into each other’s eyes and, God-forbid, finish a sentence. Or a thought. Or a question. Sometimes we just sit there in the quiet for a few…and I’ve learned that is OK too.
Here are our go-to rules for date nights:
Make it weekly. Or bi-weekly. Just often.
Don’t make this a business meeting. No talk about weekly schedules, finances, and soccer practice. And if you have to…keep it short. We’ve been known to do our fair-share of errands together. But we try not to make a habit of it.
Leave the house. Now I know lots of people who do “at-home” date nights after the kids go to bed. But honestly? I cannot leave it all behind and have fun with my husband when an unkept yard, dirty laundry, and a coughing three-year-old are staring me in the face. I just can’t. Maybe it is me.
Do talk about the “elephant in the middle of the room.” Tension? Frustration? This is a good time to talk about it. NOT at 11:30pm when you can barely reason. NOT right after you get home from work. Talk about your marriage when you are both well slept, well fed, and able to relax during the conversation.
Stir up conversation. My husband routinely asks questions like, “Are you encouraged in our marriage? Do you feel romanced or loved?” And guys – if you are going to ask, be prepared to handle the honest truth like a man!
See it as an investment. Many people say they cannot afford date nights. They don’t have to be expensive. But remember, you are investing in your marriage. And your future. That is why I love outdoor date nights. Parks, lake swims, hikes, climbing. It is all free for the most part!
Can’t find a sitter? Ask another couple with kids if they want to do a “date night exchange.” Switch off watching each other’s kids.
Do something fun! Our date nights are the time for us to go hiking, climbing, snowshoeing, etc WITHOUT kid carriers on our backs and kid’s playing at the crag. Don’t get me wrong, those times are fun too. But so are these. Here is what our date nights look like:
How do YOU like to get out and spend some time with your loved one? Keep these ideas coming!
Thank you, Alyssa, for some great inspiration! Make sure to head on over and check out The Kid Project. It is one of my very favorite blogs that I follow. Alyssa writes from her heart with beautiful words and her pictures are incredible too!
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