The hubby and I are coming up on our ten year anniversary in August. Ten years in the grand scheme of life isn’t very long, but in married terms its average, and longer than a lot of marriages. Now that isn’t because were some kind of model couple, or because we are immune to marriage problems. Actually its quite a publicly known topic in our lives, that our marriage has never been perfect. In ten years of marriage we have “almost” been divorced and/or separated twice. Once because of me, and once because of THEZMAKER. Not in that order.
Now after the first time, we came up with these rules of marriage of dating. For every two children we had (at the time it was four) we needed to have one date night per month. Since we had four children at the time we immediately decided to implement two date nights into our lives. One every two weeks. We penciled them in for paydays to hold ourselves accountable and make it easier on our checkbooks. At first, the only thing we did on date nights were go to counseling, and hit dinner afterward.
Wow, thinking back on how AWKWARD those dates were. We only had a sitter for an hour and a half. So we would go to counseling for an hour, hit a drive through on the way home and talk about counseling. Or, we would sit in silence and eat our food, depending on how bad counseling had been that night. But after a while we saw significant growth in our communication and our relationship.
Two years after that we welcomed our fifth child into the mix. We still had date night every two weeks but since things were going better in our marriage we had scaled back to one counseling session a month and the other night was our fun night. Those were the nights that really helped us have a good time. Things were going really well and we were loving date night, and each other.
But then, life happened. Some things came up. We decided to move houses, and in selling our old house everything-including date nights- were put on the back burner to get things figured out as our lives were in major dis-array from moving. Things started to decline super fast in our relationship. We had so much stress and zero outlet for communication.
When you have children around, there are things you cannot talk about in front of them. So things just get pushed aside or “well talk about it later” but later never comes when you are living in that type of situation. For months we were not together for a moment alone. This was seriously bad for our relationship, but it was too late because we were so disconnected and our relationship was in major shambles.
After we moved was the second time we almost separated/got a divorce. We lived in limbo for a few weeks deciding what to do. Was our marriage really that bad, and was it possible to fix? Well, definitely not alone we couldn’t fix this. Thankfully, we are both Christians who are committed to marriage, and forgiveness, and making things work. We also both had a lot of experience with counseling and what it had taught us about communication and we soon realized we hadn’t been on a date night in months. We immediately made an appointment with our counselor who we had not seen in a while, and explained what was going on. On the brink of divorce she asked us if we were willing to do what it took to fix this. Both of us said yes. She told us to take a vacation together as soon as possible- however we could make it work, even if it was just at home for the weekend. We decided to take a weekend away together (3 day weekend while the grandparents watched the children) and reconnect and talk and work through some of our issues. That was the first step to fixing what was broken in our marriage.
That was almost two years ago now. Wow, how times have changed and flown by! We now have #6 baby, little Zariah. Our relationship is better than it EVER has been. And when I think back I know why- Date nights. Every Night.
For ONE year we committed to putting off ALL children’s activities and ONLY focused our time and money on our marriage. Our kids were not going to die if for one year they didn’t do sports or awana or whatever activities they were involved in. We followed the date night rules, and put our monetary extras into concerts, plays, time alone, hiring a babysitter WITHOUT FAIL if grandparents weren’t able to do it. We put all of our time, energy and money into our marriage. We started making EVERY night date night at home too. So even though we were doing significant 4 hour date nights 3x a month outside the home (or sometimes inside the home after the kids went to bed) we also were doing 10-45 minute date nights every day after my husband came home from work. This led us to the place we are now, and why I am sharing this with you. We also did several biblical marriage studies with each other and alone along the way.
The point of this post is really one thing: Your marriage needs to be your number one priority or it will become your last.
So as we get closer to celebrating ten years, and I’m getting closer to renewing my vows to THEZMAKER, I’m really excited to see where our marriage is headed, and where it has come from. I hope that God continues to bless our marriage and I’m excited to see what that looks like. I thought maybe I would make a list of some of our favorite date nights and activities. Well, besides, you know. *wink*. Remember we have six kids and were on a budget, so MOST of these date nights cost less than 40$ which is our date night budget. However, SOMETIMES, we budget more and splurge.
- My birthday. (Sleepover with grandparents normally)
- His birthday. (Ditto Above)
- Christmas shopping for the kids. We pay a sitter, and use the time to shop for the kids, but we have a REALLY fun time.
- Dinner and Drinks. This is a monthly activity. Even when we are watching what we eat, or doing a Whole30, or challenge of some kind, we skip drinks and eat sensibly, but we still go out.
- Church alone as a couple. (There’s something to be said about not having to get six kids ready to go in the morning, taking your time to go out to eat first, or stopping for some coffee/tea and leisurely making your way in to hear a sermon and praise God together.)
- The Fair. Every year we take the kids to the fair, and then we TRY to set it up to being there all day long, leaving around 4 or 5pm, taking them home where a sitter comes and then we go back and stay until closing just us two. We get 4-5 hours of time alone there to play games, ride some rides, and be a kid again.
- Concerts. We LOVE music, so naturally we try to see a concert once a year if we can. Last year we saw two, DMB and Straight No Chaser.
- Broadway. Last year we saw The Sound of Music. That was an AWESOME gift from my sisters. They even babysat!
- Shopping. I know right, what? Yeah- this is easy. Sometimes, going to Costco can be a date, if you get to go BY YOURSELVES. We’ve done it. We’ve even gone shopping for a new bed, new couches, whatever we want. If we have something on the list of “need” that takes some selections, then we wait until date night and go then. No distractions, no stress, we just get to talk and make the decision together.
- The Movies. I hate the movies, but I’ll do it for the hubby. Its not a great place to talk if you have things you’d like to discuss, but if things are going well and you’d like just a stress free night out this is a good choice. Normally this one is freeeeee. He gets movie tickets from work sometimes and we will go see something new in theaters. Its so expensive I just hate to spend hard earned money on it. But I’ll go, if its free and it looks like a good movie.
- A Mall Date. We never do this but just recently we actually had a reason to go to the mall, and it was SO NICE. Browsing stores with no agenda. It turned out to be really fun. You could easily get a smoothie and pretzel for under $40.
- The Zoo. Most people do this with kids, but you know it can be fun by yourselves as well.
- Netflix & Chill. Send the kids to grandmas house and stay in bed. The WHOLE weekend. *wink*.
- Bowling. We love to bowl, and we take the kids a couple of times a year when we can, but its even MORE fun on Date Night.
- Pool Hall. Much like bowling, we like to play pool. Before we had a pool table at home we would go out and play in public. But now we have one at home. 🙂
- Dress Up Dinner. Women love this one. What man doesn’t look good dressed up? Maybe for your anniversary?
- Stay in a hotel. Normally this one is saved for birthdays or anniversarys, but one of my favorites.
- Coffee and Bath. (This is where I bring Coffee to the bathtub for my husband, and he and I sit and talk. We do this one a lot actually.)
- Thrift Shopping. We LOVE this. Sometimes we get nothing, and sometimes we get something. We have to save this for when we have a little extra in the budget in case we find a hutch we just cant say no to.
- Home Improvements. We usually do this when kids are on a sleepover to grandparents. We will spend the weekend doing something around the house in the quiet.
- Lowes or Home Depot. MANY MANY MANY date nights have been spend at Home Depot or Lowes just looking at samples of things we want to do in the coming weeks/months on our house. So while sometimes the date nights are executing these plans, sometimes they are just planning them out.
- The Casino. We don’t do this one a lot, but sometimes we do. Its super fun to play, as long as you don’t have a problem or go crazy. 😉
- Paint Night. Most of the time this is a group date activity. We have people over and after the kids go to bed we create a masterpiece on a canvas that we then hang up in the house. Its so nice to chill, listen to music and relax with a glass of wine or beer while painting.
- Game Night. Self explanatory.
- Puzzles. We do puzzles sometimes. THEZMAKER really likes them. I get frustrated easily but the one thing I really like about them is that my husbands personality REALLY shines when we do them, and he forces me to work through my weaknesses when it comes to commitment. While I really want to quit about half way through- he is REALLY determined to finish the stupid thing and while I could care less about the puzzle, I enjoy spending the time with him and when we are finished I’m in awe at what we can do when we put our minds together. Because honestly, without him I would give up, A lot. In real life, and with puzzles.
- Trying Something New. This is good if you like Groupon. Sometimes we will try something new, like Hot Air Ballooning, or Pottery Making if we see something on Groupon for a good steal.
- The Beach. Even if its just sitting on the water and eating a corn dog, there’s something amazing about the water that really brings us peace. We are lucky enough to live near the ocean so any park or beach is just a short drive away.
- Drinks in the grass outside. This is one of those “Ten Minute After Work” dates. I just bring drinks outside on a picnic blanket and wait for hubby to drive up. Then we drink our drinks and spend a few minutes talking before taking on the children together.
- Building things. This is one of my personal favorites, but it might not work for everyone. I just love to have a project to do. Just recently we’ve been working on a magazine rack in the garage. We haven’t had time to finish it up yet, but its there waiting.
- Reading a book together or Taking a class together. We recently just took a budgeting class together that was really great. It opened our eyes to some new ideas and ways to improve our life together. Ultimately that’s the goal for EVERY date night.
All in all, I hope you’ve gotten some great ideas to implement the Marriage Dating Rules above. I encourage you to leave comments asking questions or your own favorite date night ideas. 🙂
Until next time,