Why is there an article about date nights on the blog about daddyhood? Because the best thing you can possibly do for your kids is to have a great relationship with their mother, your wife or partner.
“Are you kidding me? That doesn’t make any sense! Surely the best thing you can do for your kids is to put them first.”
Whilst your commitment to daddyhood is laudable, your approach is flawed. There are far too many people who put their children before their marriage/relationship. This doesn’t sound so bad until you see what the result of this actually is.
The marriage car
Think of marriage as a brand new car. You and your wife get it on your wedding day and for the first couple of years it’s got that amazing ‘new marriage’ smell, everything works well and it looks amazing. You wash it and service it regularly to keep it in peak condition. Then you have kids. You decide that keeping your kids happy is more important than keeping the car in good condition.
At first it’s just little things you neglect to do, so you don’t wash it as regularly. Then you stop servicing it regularly. It starts making funny noises but you decided that everyone’s car must be like that when they have kids and choose to ignore it. Before you know it your car breaks down. Maybe it’s before the kids leave home, or maybe it’s when you’ve got an empty nest. Either way, you realise that your amazing marriage has suffered some serious damage that will take a long time to fix. You might even start to think that the damage is irreparable and that it’s time to move on. Or maybe you choose to stick with the dysfunctional machine, but it’s no longer a source of joy to either of you.
Sadly, this is the way a lot of marriages go. By the time the kids leave, the husband and wife realise that they don’t actually know or necessarily love each other any more. All of the years spent neglecting their marriage by ‘loving’ their kids have brought them to a place of disappointment, brokenness and despair. Do you think their kids are blessed by this? No, neither do I. No kid feels loved in a negative environment.
Date night to the rescue
So what do we do to avoid this? I can’t really answer that question in one post, but I can talk about one element that helps: date night. Having a regular date night, as we all know, is a vital way of maintaining vitality in our relationship with our spouse or partner. However, the reality is that knowing doesn’t always result in doing. When was the last time you actually went on a date with your significant other? And the time before that? It’s way easier to not go on a date.
Finding time in your schedules, organising a babysitter, budgeting to pay the babysitter and finding something that you both want to do can be exhausting. And then there’s the guilt, “But what about the kids?! What if they wake up and are upset that we’re gone? What if they give the babysitter trouble?” These factors snowball and can become an overwhelming force with the result that your date nights become 6-monthly events and not a regular part of your life.
The thing is, you’ve got to fight for the little things like a regular date night. Not only will the act of being out and alone together bring you and your wife joy, but the fact that you’ve fought to spend time with her will make your wife feel hugely loved, and this is not only good for your marriage, but it’s good for your kids too.
The date night how to
So date night is important and worth fighting for, but it’s easy for it to become dull and predictable as is beautifully depicted by Steve Carrell and Tina Fey in the movie of the same name. So how do you keep it fresh? Here are my suggestions:
- Don’t do it only at night. We can get so caught up in the idea of date night being an evening activity that we miss out on other wonderful opportunities. My wife and I often go out for coffee during the day. Weekends are great for this. use the grandparents, use your friends and reciprocate. Offer to look after your friend’s kids one saturday afternoon so that him and his missus can go off gallivanting and temporarily relive the days of being a HYP.
- Be creative. Although the dinner and/or a movie combination is a winner, it’s good to have other options. Why not try something new together? Get out of your comfort zone. Do something adventurous and distinctly un-parent like. Try archery, do a class together, sing karaoke, do whatever, just try something new.
Amazing marriages produce amazing kids. So be a good Dad, do date nights.