The Death of Date Night

Over the last ten years of my second marriage, I learned something that only comes from life experience…DATE NIGHT MATTERS!

Now, you may be shaking your head and thinking duh, of course it matters. But, do your actions match what seems like common sense thinking?

Most likely, no.

I know couples that live very separate lives. Date nights are nonexistent, but a personal night out is on the calendar in sharpie. Individually free nights of the week are set in stone and even the weather works around it. Yet these same couples piss and moan when the realization of how far they have grown apart becomes clear. Usually, one or both people develop resentment towards the other’s separate life. As no effort is made to set aside private time for only them.

 “Them,” meaning THE RELATIONSHIP! The relationship is not getting its own private time.

Side note: this is also why sex is such a big deal. As the act most likely only includes the two of you. So, at least sex provides some literally, private time.

Couples that live separate lives often assume and expect everything to be perfectly fine. All of the bells and whistles included.

Marriage (or any relationship) just doesn’t work this way.

My oldest son turned sixteen last year and it hit me like a ton of bricks. My baby, my perfect angel, my boogie, my entitled little prince, was just 2 years shy of leaving home. Just like that, the panic attacks and anxiety set in. Even though my youngest had seven more years, the reality of my kids leaving home – hopefully forever- meant I would be left alone with my husband. (My husband edited this and takes offense to the tone of this written statement…)

Well…my husband….my husband…my best friend, my life partner, the person in my life that should be my most treasured, and my most protected relationship. As he is the other half of the foundation, was the one relationship that we’d come to let go.

Then I got kind of depressed. Misty depressed. Was this all my fault? Was I married to my kids? Did my husband have similar feelings? Who was I? Who was my husband?

At some point during my kid’s lives – after kindergarten and before high school – I’d left behind my best friend, my lover, my partner.

We had become parents and caregivers.

Misty and Jordan were gone. Bitter mom and dad were left behind to raise the kids and ride the waves of an unsettled, and unequal marriage. I work in the relationship industry, I see lots of divorces. I see a lot of failed marriages. Lots of loneliness.

A lot of us have been here. It hurts. Raising a family, helping our loved ones, building a career, life’s curveballs…it happens, and we must tend to these things. All while trying to stay in love and make our partner feel valuable, respected, and important.

Why does this happen? It’s simple.

We don’t make time for the small- but actually really big- things that matter the most. This is where date night comes into play. Did you make time to have coffee with Jane or play tennis with Jack? Did the kids go to the park 3 days this week? Did you make it to every school happening, sports practice, doctor’s appointments, ladies/guys night, grocery store trips, dog walks, workouts?

I’m sure you did.

What did you do this week to improve your relationship – or even have one- with your partner?

How much time did you set aside to give them your undivided attention? I’m guessing less than three hours of total undivided time without work or kids. So, why? Why do the two of you not have the same priorities? Why is your relationship not as important? Are you two not the rulers of your world? With 168 hours in a week, why can’t you give up just three for each other. Three hours a week to do whatever you want together as a couple. Not as parents. Not as co-workers. Not as whatever else you may be to each other. Just as husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, lover and lover. Enjoy who you are together. This special time together helps both people remember why you get up every day and fight the good fight together.

With any relationship, you only get out what you put in.

I challenge you to make a minor change in your relationship.

Go home tonight and talk with your other half. Pull out your calendars and set a date. It may take time to get Date Night on a regular schedule, but make it happen. Put it in sharpie and stick with the plan unless impending doom looms over the day.

Remember, date night doesn’t have to be expensive. Grab some wine and cheese and don’t eat dinner with the kids. When they go to bed – even if it is 10pm – turn on some music, keep the conversation light, and enjoy being a couple.

Don’t forget, when you were young, you probably dreamed about being with a special someone. You probably dreamed about getting to sleep in bed with a boy/girl every night. How many of you don’t share a bed anymore?

Yes, real life is not the imagined daydream of a teenager. Real life is what you make it.

Make your relationship feel wonderful again! Start by planning your weekly Date Night!

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