I never have the energy to get dressed up and go on a date, but I recently realized how important these excursions are for my relationship with my partner.
As parents, planning and preparing for a date feels like more work, and with young children in the family, more work is the last thing we need.
So my husband and I have long contented ourselves with ‘at home’ dates. We order in, pour some pints, and sit together. We watch shows, talk about our children and our lives, and generally chill. Chilling is what we need.
Whether we plan a ‘date night’ or just chat between writing emails, I look forward to that time every day — time to be an adult, have an uninterrupted conversation, and no immediate needs to fill. It’s like a daily mini-vacation with my partner.
I thought these evenings together were enough to sustain our relationship.
But after ten years, it’s not growing our relationship as much as it should. Maintaining, yes. We’re wildly comfortable.
But there’s something magical about planning time for the relationship and leaving the house with it. When we leave the house together intentionally, our relationship grows and strengthens.
When we leave the house, we have to rediscover each other and our relationship as it exists in that sphere.
Too comfortable, too familiar.
At home, you can be in sweatpants or naked. You can ignore each other for 20 minutes or two hours. You can be sidetracked by 100 things.
At home, you’re surrounded by all the daily stuff, by your responsibilities, and the reminders of your to-do list. There’s his mess and there’s that project I need to finish.
When we go out, all of that is not so overwhelming. We can focus on each other and our time together. There are no children to interrupt us.
In public, you have to be on your best behavior.
Getting dressed up to go out is not fun for me. I’m happy once it’s done, but I always resist the fussiness of picking clothes and doing hair in order to look ‘done.’
Doing it periodically, though, reminds me that I am not primarily a mother — I am firstly a person. And plus, this relationship is worth doing a little extra for.
It’s nice to see my partner dressed up and it’s nice to feel a little fancy. It’s the unusual-ness of it that makes it work to strengthen the relationship. You do something extra for each other, for your togetherness.
Novelty keeps us interested.
Going out dramatically increases the likelihood that you will have new or unusual experiences. You’re more likely to have a story to tell.
When we have out-of-the-ordinary experiences with someone, it provides a platform on which to strengthen the relationship. The more you experience together, the more you share and the more you understand each other.
Part of what keeps us attracted to each other is novelty — finding out new things about our partners, seeing a different angle in their personality. Try something new together and it will increase your satisfaction and connection.
When you are parenting, getting away from the kids is also healthy. We are very attached. The first time we went on a date that lasted more than two hours, we missed them and came home early.
If you are breastfeeding, it can be especially hard to get away or even want to get away, and I think that’s okay. I wish I would have done more short, dinner or lunch-only dates when they were young, though.
We should have worked harder to find someone to swap babysitting hours with.
When we’re sitting together at home, there is always an undercurrent of possibility from the sleeping giants upstairs. Leaving them in the care of someone we trust is freeing.
Getting away to tweak our relationship and redefine ourselves outside of parentage has helped us have more fun together — with and without the kids.
Here are some date night ideas for comfortable couples.
Try something unusual. New things keep your relationship fresh.
- Go dancing.
- Do an escape room experience.
- Go out with another couple.
- Take a class together.
- Decide on a budget and go buy each other an outfit/gift at the same mall/store.
- Go to an amusement park.
- Grab a blanket and go to the grocery to buy whatever crazy things you want for a picnic in the park.
- Go to a concert.
- Go look at animals for sale in a pet store.
- Prepare a nice or funny package for friends and ding dong ditch it at their house.
What are your favorite date night ideas?