Never Forget the Power of Date Night


My husband was on my last nerve. I didn't want anything to do with him, let alone spend a week going on dates. But it was Date Week, the week where my in-laws take our kids, and my husband and I get to go out and live it up like we did back in the early '00s before kids. Even though we hadn’t had any serious alone time since Date Week 2013, I wasn't looking forward to it.

After dropping off our kids, by the time we got to happy hour in beautiful Dana Point, CA, it all started to come back to me. As I gazed at my adorable husband, I remembered that there was more to him than the annoying man who tells my kids that yes, they can have soda with dinner even though minutes before I told them that "We" don’t drink soda.

He suddenly went from the world’s most annoying person to a handsome man I get to have sex with. We had so much fun that week. We tried new restaurants, we scored last-minute Hollywood Bowl tickets and walked around holding hands in downtown Los Angeles. It was like a romantic comedy.

The Power of Date Night
Credit: Kevin Dooley

Then it was time to pick the kids up and it went from romantic comedy to a really boring episode of Home Improvement. That’s because the kids came back. (Of course they had to come back, and I was happy they did.) But it only took a day for my husband and I to start forgetting to talk to each other. I don't know why it's so easy to lose that connection when the kids are around so I asked a psychotherapist I know who works with couples, Claudia Lewis, (M.A., MFTi).

She said that connecting with your significant other isn't easy when kids are around, because when kids are there, they come first. But parents need to feel that they come first sometimes and that they are special, too.

It's nearly impossible to give each other undivided attention with our kids in the same room — or house. Not because there’s anything wrong with any one of us, but because the kids need more because they’re kids. So it comes down to my husband and me making time for each other.

"By scheduling alone time you are creating a time that is devoted to fostering intimacy, communicating and reconnecting with your partner," Lewis said. "When we don't schedule date time with our partner, we aren't making the other person, or the relationship a priority and this can breed resentment: The subtext is, 'You aren't important enough for my undivided attention.'"

How do we do that? It can cost $15 to $20 an hour for a babysitter and that doesn't include the cost of dinner or a movie. There are solutions, however. Lewis said to do a babysitting swap (we do this occasionally) with another family or schedule time together while the kids are at school. Another idea is to schedule time after kids have been put down to sleep.

"Sometimes we need to think creatively about ways to nurture our relationship, but planning ahead, scheduling time and then sticking to it is important to make sure this valuable opportunity does not get forgotten about," Lewis said.

However we do it, we're hoping to find some date time before Date Week 2015.

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