I enjoy spending time with my husband. In fact, if I was given the ability to choose to spend time with any person on earth right now, I would - hands down - pick my husband. I would rather be with him than anyone else! I would not even need to think about the decision. He’s my first pick.
In our per-marital counseling we were challenged by our Pastor to “Date our Mate” for as long as we were married. That was easy when were first married and it was just the two of us. We spent every moment we could with each other. Oh, young love! However, when the children came (a result of spending so much time together, but I digress…), having those dates became a little more of a challenge. When all of our children were little, and we did not have ‘built in’ babysitters like we do now, we had to come up with some
ways to spend time being together.
Here are some steps we found that helped us to be able to “Date our Mate” even with little kids underfoot:
When our kids were little, we made sure that their bed times were early enough in the evening to allow us quality time to be together just the two of us. We found when they were going to bed late (9-10pm) we were exhausted by the time they finally got tucked into bed and ready for sleep ourselves. When their bedtimes were moved to 8:00 we found we still were alert and awake enough to be able to sit and talk together, play a game or even just sit on the couch together reading books and drinking hot tea in a quiet house. (I don’t mind that type of date at all!)
There were sacrifices that had to be made in putting the kids to bed at an “early” bedtime. Kids who go to bed at 8 are usually up at six. There were times we debated if we would rather keep them up later, so our mornings did not come so early, but we found we enjoyed being able to be with each other as a couple more than we enjoyed a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning. Looking back on the years of having just little ones in the house – I think it was a wise choice!
2. Plan Times
For as long as I can remember, we have had a “date night” set on the calendar; and for the most part it does not change. When the children were little, we had a date night about once a month. That night, we went out together as a couple on a ‘date’. We would have loved to have done it more, but the bottom line was, when you have to pay a babysitter and a waiter – you just run out of money fast when you are just starting out as a couple and family. Once a month was about all we could afford! Now, we have babysitters that live with us – and we have the ability to make our date nights more of a weekly activity.
3. Barter Babysitting
When the kids are little and it is difficult to find/ afford a babysitter, bartering babysitting is an option. Find another couple with little kids. (They need date nights too!) Offer to be their date night babysitter in return for them watching your children the next week for your date night.
When my husband was a Pastor we would host “Date Nights” for the couples in our church. They could drop the kids off at the church and we would watch the kids and feed them dinner if the couples promised to go out on a date together and talk. We enjoyed spending an evening with the kids of the church; but most of all enjoyed seeing the couples come to pick up their children holding hands and smiling. It was like you could see a visible difference in the couples from when they dropped the kids off to when they picked them up. It is SO important that couples have time to do this.
4. Take what you can get
There were times when the kids were little that we would take them to the park to play so that we could sit on the benches and talk. No, it is not the ideal date night – where you are alone just the two of you. Undoubtedly, there will be interruptions; but you can proactively handle that by promising ice cream cones on the way home for all the kids who played without disturbing Mommy and Daddy while they talked. We have taken this same principle and done it at home too. The kids were assigned to their rooms to play – they were not to come out of their rooms till the timer went off. Then we would sit and talk about what we need to while they played.
5. Look for “mini-date” opportunities
Mini dates are anytime you are able to be alone together as a couple without the kids being in the center of your world. As I looked at our weeks and the time we had together when the kids were little, I was amazed to find that there were several times when we were ‘kid-less’. A perfect example of this would be the time we spent in adult Sunday school class. The kids were all checked into the nurseries, dropped off at their Sunday school rooms and it was just the two of us in Sunday School. There was almost an hour where we did not have to make sure the kids were behaving, chewing their gum too loudly, or writing in the hymnbooks!
Making an effort to see these times as ‘mini-dates’ and connect emotionally with each other can be wonderful for a couple with little kids. During Sunday school we would hold hands or sometimes pass a note to each other (don’t tell Pastor I said that….). There are times when we are listening to the preaching and Pastor will mention something that pertains to us as a family or couple – and we will interact with each other by a poke or a nod – or even our eyes meeting and smiling; knowing that God had that part of the message for us. We are listening together as a couple to the message and we are growing together under the preaching of God’s Word. We were emotionally connecting – even though we were not OUT on a date.
Wednesday nights afforded us the same opportunity as the children were all in kids club and we were able to be together for the prayer time and Bible study. Sometimes during prayer meetings we pray together as a couple. Even though we are at church (and not out on a ‘date’) we are connecting our hearts together in prayer.
Our church holds monthly couples Bible studies. Several of the couples have little ones that are upstairs being cared for by teens in the church; but really and truly they are on a mini-date. Mini dates can happen in the car when you declare a “no-talking game” with the kids and hold hands and connect with each other as the kids look at the window.
You were a couple before you had children. It is imperative that while you have children in the house you find ways to connect with your spouse. If you make the effort, you will find many opportunities to “Date your Mate”. We have looked at it as an investment in our marriage. I want to be married to my best friend when the last kid leaves the house – not find out that I don’t know the man I am married to anymore because life became too busy to connect and build a friendship with my husband. I challenge you to do WHATEVER you can to find time alone with your husband. Someday when your kids are gone and raising a family of their own they will thank you for the security you gave them by being best friends with their Daddy!
Thanks for stopping by. I’m so glad you did.