“You need to go on one date night outside of the house every week to keep your marriage strong…”
I remember the first time I ever heard that phrase. My husband and I were married with an infant and a toddler at the time, born only 20 short months apart, trying to survive the madness of parenting young children.
I was staying at home with the kids six out of the seven days a week and also working desperately to complete my very first book, and John was halfway through his extremely busy medical residency. Needless to say, we were short on cash, short on energy and short on time.
As much as I wanted to have “one date night out a week,” to be completely honest with you, it was nearly impossible. Trying to find a babysitter we trusted, find time in his crazy schedule and then fork out the minimum $100 dollars to cover dinner and a sitter just seemed way out of our “weekly” budget. Heck, I was trying to simply stay under $100/week for groceries, much less a date night.
So when I heard those words coming from a trusted leader at the time, my heart kinda sank. We’re doomed, I thought to myself.
Over the next few years, I’ve actually heard that phrase many-a-time in sermons, books and even in one-on-one conversations. On one hand, I absolutely agree that couples need focused time carved out in their week for one another. But on the other hand, the traditional thought of a “date night out” can really amount to a lot of pressure. Especially when you’re in the stage of having really young children, which coincidentally as I write, my husband and I find ourselves in once again as we welcomed baby #3 just two short months ago.
If you want my personal opinion, the idea that you HAVE to go out every single week in order to keep your marriage strong is actually a harmful idea. The expectation for fancy date nights out, fine dining and dancing, or whatever it is you put on your list, is not only impossible for some people’s budgets, but doesn’t always work out in the daily grind of life.
And trying to meet unrealistic expectations can leave one or both partners feeling disappointed, bitter and discouraged in their marriage.
Now back to the idea of carving out time for one another—that, I highly recommend. I just don’t believe it always has to be a “date night out.” For a healthy marriage, you absolutely have to learn to prioritize one another no matter what stage of life you find yourself in…but that might not always look the way others expect it to.
For my husband and I, that time of prioritizing has looked different in different stages of our marriage. Sometimes, it definitely does mean a fancy date night out. I’m with every other romantic on earth in saying I enjoy that special time when we can get out of the house and have a night, or even a weekend, all to ourselves.
But the real truth is, most weeks, “date night” means being deliberate about using our time to invest in each other once the kids have gone to bed. It means sitting on the couch folding laundry together and talking about our day. It means playing a game of cards or a round of trivia. It means holding hands by the fire (or the “pretend fire” flickering on the TV screen thanks to the Netflix mood setters). It means making time to be intimate. It means having couch time, laying face to face and just chatting. It means spending time reading God’s word together or just taking the time to pray with one another. It means holding hands across the dining room table and having a late night snack. It means no cell phones, no laptops and no distractions. Just some time to focus on one another.
I don’t know about you, but if you’re anything like us I just want to encourage you…
It’s about taking the time you have, and using it to make your marriage stronger. It’s about being deliberate to connect and communicate. Sometimes that might require a date night out…but most nights, all it requires is an open heart and a little effort. So to all the couples out there in a busy season, in a difficult season or in a broke season…here’s to many more #DateNightsIn.
Comment Below: What is your favorite #DateNightIn idea?
This article originally appeared here.