9/25/2017 4 Comments
by Liz Escoffery, MA, CFCP
Above: My husband Bill and I on our monthly date night back in May to an Indianapolis Indians baseball game followed by dessert at a nearby hotel restaurant.
Earlier tonight, I went live on Facebook to share some of my tricks and tips for making a monthly date night happen. I want to recap them here on my blog (in 2 parts), mainly because I think this topic is so critical to our marriages and relationships and anyone, no matter your age or stage in life can benefit from growing in our relationships.
When I was growing up, I did a lot of baby-sitting, so I got to see married couples (who I was unrelated to) going on dates. What did married couples do? Well, I’ll tell you, sometimes they went to food & wine festivals, sometimes they went bowling, sometimes they stayed up all night for New Year’s Eve. And more than anything else, I knew that they made their monthly date night a priority because every month, I’d get a call to check my schedule and pencil them in for a night of baby-sitting. This made a lasting impression on me.
In my work with clients and among my friends, I often hear these common excuses for not going on a monthly date night.
-We’re engaged or newly married, and so we see each other all the time.
I think this one is a lame excuse, quite frankly. If this person is who you want to spend the rest of your life with, then you owe it to him or her and to yourself to nurture this relationship and give it quality time set apart each month. Apart from time spent nurturing your relationship with God, this relationship should be a priority.
-We have kids.
If your dinner table is anything like mine (I have a 3-year-old and 1-year-old) there aren’t a whole lot of deep, thought-provoking conversations happening there. Often, Bill is telling our son to sit down 10 times, and I am wiping yogurt or marinara sauce off of my daughter’s face. In order to really unwind, I need to get out of the house, away from chores, away from work (I do a lot of my work from home), and away from the responsibilities that come with raising young children. A date night at home, while possible, is perhaps not my favorite thing, but sometimes we have done it and included things like: time around our fire pit, doing a movie night, or making a fancy dessert together. I know couples who have learned hobbies together during naptimes or bedtimes of their kids and this can be a great way to learn a new skill and spend time together (some examples include: making model cars/planes, gourmet cooking, or trying a new form of exercise).
If at least some of your kids are older, you can have them be involved in making your date night in special: serving you food, serenading you with music, and more. I look forward to my kids being old enough to do this for us!
-We have no babysitter.
This one is tough. Finding a reliable baby-sitter can be challenging, especially if you are new to an area or don’t have any friends or family who live nearby. We do have family nearby thankfully, but we also have some sitters from our church (high school and college students) who we met, saw how they interacted with our kids, and began inviting them to baby-sit.
If you live in Indianapolis, you can take advantage of two programs:
Our Lady of Greenwood offers date nights with free baby-sitting, and even give you suggestions on what you can do during your date (or you can come up with your own ideas). Don’t have kids? You can still stop by the church to get your “envelope” full of date ideas if you live close by. Next ones coming up: October 13, 2017 and December 15, 2017. Find out more and register here.
St. Monica offers Marriage in Focus which is a potluck dinner and speaker for engaged and married couples to grow in their love together and meet other couples in Indianapolis. Baby-sitting is available for $5/child for approximately 2.5 hours. The next evening coming up is November 11, 2017, find more information here.
-We both work 60+ hour work weeks, there is simply no time!
I would imagine that anyone working 60+ hours needs a monthly date night to reconnect with their spouse or significant other more than most!
My husband works downtown, and when I used to work downtown also, we would do a lot of lunch and working out dates. Sometimes we would meet up at a favorite restaurant, or I would pack us lunches and we would find a nice spot on the canal or at a park to eat.
Now that I don’t work downtown, we still do lunch dates from time to time and utilize the YMCA for their drop-off care of $5/hour per kid. The Athenaeum YMCA and CityWay YMCA are each close to a lot of great restaurant spots. Also, we love the chance to work out together, but typically have to choose either a work-out or a lunch date as a weekday does not allow us time to do both. Going to St. John the Evangelist for daily Mass is another idea for a quicker weekday date, and is especially a good idea for holy days of obligation.
-Money is tight.
This one is very real for many couples.
I believe we have to tell our money what to do. If you are able to, budget $20-30 for your date night. This will likely not cover a dinner/activity and baby-sitting but it could probably cover one or the other. You can find free baby-sitting or find a free activity/meal. Both will cost you $70-80 but just one will be much more reasonable and sustainable. If you are having a difficult month financially, you don’t necessarily have to skip your date night, but do need to think creatively about how you might be able to enjoy time together at low-expense.
Bill and I have a date scheduled for this Friday. We’ve chosen to go to a paint-your-own pottery place that we have had our eyes on for quite awhile. It also happens to be close to my sister-in-law Lucy and her family. So, we are going to have our kids go over to their house (thanks Lucy) so we can save the money on baby-sitting, eat before we go, and then spend money to cover the studio fees.
-We are long-distance right now.
Bill and I are no strangers to long-distance. We spent three long years of our dating and engagement thousands of miles away from each other. Here are a few of the ways we did dates while apart:
-We would bring a treat (cupcake, piece of fruit, hot chocolate, etc) to our Skype time to ritualize it and make it special.
-We would pray night prayer or an Angelus together, something that we often did in person, but we had to be more intentional about doing on the phone or Skype.
-We would watch a movie simultaneously while using Skype to see each other’s reactions and simulate being in each other’s presence as best as possible.
Then, when we were together, we would really prioritize those evenings for date nights, and make sure our other activities and commitments weren’t going to drain us and make us decide to cancel our date nights.
Have you ever made any of these excuses? Do you have a favorite date night you went on? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Stay tuned for part two of this blog post to be published later in the week which will feature some practical logistics and ideas for your dates.
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