My husband and I have started to have a weekly date night in an attempt to bring more closeness into our marriage. The problem is that we sit in expensive restaurants and all we talk about is the kids; there does not seem to be anything ‘new’ in that other than having more time to vent and process. Somehow I think this is not going to reap any martial growth. What do you think?
Old Married Couple
You are absolutely correct! Closeness will never be forged in the rehashing of domestic troubles or parenting woes This falls under the category of marital ‘housekeeping’ and its not the purpose of date night. I don’t know how old your kids are currently but still, I can say with confidence that in the blink of an eye they will be grown and flown; and you will be left to navigate a relationship without the shorthand of parenting talk. And the time to start preparing for that inevitability is now!
Relationships flourish best when there is a shared purpose of vision of what a meaningful life looks like.
During the years of active parenting, there is so much to do with so little time that this becomes your only common discussion I am going to suggest that you reach way back to your dating period and try to remember the things that interested and excited you about life before kids. Did you enjoy crafts or art or music or dance? Did you love to read or to learn; to hike or to play sports? What are your spouse’s passions (outside of work) and if they have fallen aside how can you help resurrect them? Encouraging our partners to have meaning and purpose outside of being a parent or spouse is a gift we give to them and ultimately to ourselves. The very things that made you interesting and compelling need to be re-integrated into your life NOW; even when or if you are time-strapped. Date night can be a time to do things; dinner out is often too forced and conversation too stilted by pressure.
Here are some of the things my husband and I began to do that laid the pathway to being empty nesters:
📚 Bookstore night.
Often my husband would be in the music section while I loved the self-help books. We would get some decadent coffee drink or hot chocolates and wander together. We gave ourselves permission to ‘split up’ for part of the night to peruse our favorite sections and join back up to talk about what we saw.
👨🏫 Take a class together.
Let your spouse chose the first sessions and keep your mind and heart open to what thrills them. Learning something new together forges closeness and depth of conversation.
🌳 Walk and hold hands.
Winter, spring, summer or fall. Just walk quietly if there is nothing to talk about. Hold hands. Just be!
🍻 Go for a beer and listen to music.
🎭 Go to sports games or dance or theatre or movies. Just enjoy the companionship.
🧳 Send the kids to your parents or friends for a few hours and get ‘acquainted’ romantically. Or if you can afford it get a hotel room. Even if you watch a movie and snuggle this can be a powerful re-connecting time.
💳 Go shopping!
As long as you are not ‘leading on’ the salespeople there is no reason why you can’t go look at things you may not be able to afford for the sheer pleasure of mutual fantasy!
I could go on and on!
The main thing here is that you enjoy something together where you put aside the parent role and exchange it for the friendship and companionship of the couple you were before children.
This is the gift that will keep on giving long after the kids are gone. Begin now!
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