Somewhere between Jacob’s first tooth and Aaron’s first soccer game we got caught up in the whirlwind of kids. We just weren’t enjoying as much time alone as we once did. Going out together has usually been spent shopping for the boys or running errands. It even got to the point that we’d get a babysitter just so we could run more errands.
On one of our typical trips to McDonald’s playland, where we could talk while the kids played, we decided to make a change. Finding more time to actually date each other became our new goal. With that decided we raised our paper cups of orange soda and toasted to a new us.
We read some things, researched some others, and started practicing the art of rediscovering dating. We found these three great dates for parents.
The “Honey-Remember-This-Place?” Date
Many of us actually live near our old dating grounds. We can literally visit the places we frequented in the days of yester-love. But this great date night doesn’t’ need to be geographically accurate. Guys, here’s an idea your wife will love.
Surprise your spouse with a trip back to the engagement night. A little planning is all you need to make this work. That special evening or day was when you made the first eternal commitment to each other…so why not propose once more? Dress up, go out, and ask her to marry you all over again. Relive the events of that first day. If you proposed at a part after an Italian dinner, then re-enact the evening with your own places in your own town. If you happen to live near the actual location, that’s a bonus. For the creative guy who made a whole night a production of getting engaged, you could have a lot of fun with this. Keep in mind the best part of this entire date is to ask her again to marry you. One friend of ours even included a trip to the temple in his plan. Now, go ask her to marry you and this time, relax!
The “Big Picture” Date
Sometimes being married with kids can really pull the bigger picture out of focus. It’s not that you’re wondering why you got into this whole family thing. In fact, it’s just the opposite—you hardly ever think about why. Try this one for a jump start.
This date begins with an early dinner out of the house. Go somewhere relaxing with a slow-paced atmosphere. Do not get something in the drive-thru. As you enjoy your time together, there’s only one rule: you cannot discuss anything that’s post-wedding related. You can talk about when you first met, when you first kissed, even when you first knew your two cupids had aligned. However, you cannot discuss anything that happened after the wedding. When you finish with dinner, go see a movie (get it?...a “big picture.”) This will give you some time to let things sink in.
After the movie, it is time for dessert—and here’s where you can talk about your post-wedding days. Try to remember what it was like when your first child was born. Recall your first car, or first major purchase. Try to remember why you chose the names you did for your children when they were born. We typically use our free time to discuss the business of the day. Avoid this trap and make it a perfect evening of reminiscing. This is the date where you and your spouse remind each other why you got into all this family stuff in the first place, and how rewarding it will be someday when your children are well developed…the big picture.
The “Here-We-Go-Again” Date
Not many couples walk out of the temple on their wedding day and right into a perfect marriage. Many pieces of happiness come easy, but there are times when things get challenging, clouded, and sometimes discouraging. This is the date where you both send up smoke signals and let each other know: it’s time for a pow-wow.
You’ve both been on dates when you’ve spent the evening lounging around and talking. When you were single, these dates most likely took place at a Denny’s or Village Inn. Those were the days when you could sit in a booth, talking for hours while using a napkin to make dozens of origami. Now it’s time to have a long slow meeting of the minds again. You may end up talking until the lights are literally put out.
Start by planning an overnight stay somewhere near your town. This doesn’t need to be a trip out of state. The object is to go away, but without the burden of having to pack and haul luggage. Okay, fellas, don’t be cheap. It’s okay if you don’t stay at the Ritz Carlton, but at least make it a place where you’ll feel comfortable and safe. If the word “hotel” starts with an “M”, keep looking. This date begins with an early afternoon good-bye to your kids and their babysitter. Since you’re only leaving for a night, you don’t need to worry about what will happen if the dog doesn’t get fed or if the porch light is left on.
Once you leave, go check in at a hotel. This is a great time to relax and take a break. You’re in no hurry, do don’t try and get the night over before seven o’clock. After spending some time in you room, it’s time for a nice dinner. This is where you spend time talking about the things that have come to matter most since your marriage. Take turns, if that helps. Since you don’t need to be home by ten and since check-out isn’t until 11:00 the next morning, take the time to explore the best things you have in your lives.
This recollection therapy is sometimes called “counting your blessings.” When we do this we foster appreciation and gratitude for our family and our lives. Having a nice, quiet hotel room to go back to helps us really take the time we need to remember the many things we love.
There’s no doubt every couple needs time along to strengthen their relationships. Our parents have always warned us about remembering to spend time on each other. They were right—and now we really see what a great benefit this needed luxury is.