If you're anything like me, your date nights have become few and far between.
Even with just being married two years, it seems as if date nights are a rarity reserved for celebrating special events and occasions. Now that we've added a child to our already hectic lives, things are crazier than ever.
Yet, every single time we get the opportunity for a date night, we fuck it all up, royally.
Why? Because we so rarely have time alone together, we use this time without the background noise of "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" to discuss all of the topics that lead to tension in anyone else's homes: money, daily stresses, overpacked schedules, parenting styles, upcoming in-law visits, etc.
Last night, after spending two quiet hours alone together at the bar where we first met, it dawned on me we had the best night we've had in a while. And it wasn't just because I took those two gin and tonics down more quickly than you can say, “I'm definitely a toddler mom.” It was because this was the first time in ages we didn't talk about money, bills or responsibilities.
Life before child was as irresponsible as possible. Staying out (and up) all night, spending every last dime on having a good time, putting each other first and ignoring anything else that tried to threaten that practice were our main habits. And they felt damn good.
I still crave it all the time, but just as I make up half of this marriage, I am half the reason date night is just not what it used to be.
So often I complain that I wish our relationship still felt like it did at the beginning. I wish we still had that same butterfly-in-your-stomach feeling before each dinner together. But then, I think of what has killed those feelings, and it is the same for us as it is for any old couple.
Life gets in the way. Arguments over the petty things force your pride to take priority over your passion. Your kid becomes the center of your world, happily taking up all of your extra energy. The need to feel heard and respected somehow overcomes your desire to just be together.
And it's sad, really. Because if there is one thing your child should witness, it's the love and passion Mommy and Daddy once had for each other. The desire you had to be around each other back before date nights became center stage for uncomfortable and tense conversations should still be there, otherwise your home becomes a statistic just like the rest of them. And the reality of that seems pretty awful.
Next time you want to spend some alone time with your baby mama or daddy, check out this list of dos and don'ts for a great date night:
1. If you wouldn't have talked about it during the honeymoon stage of dating, check it at the door.
That means any talk about looming bills and debts are a no-go. Bringing up uncomfortable family topics, rehashing old arguments or trying to place unnecessary blame are also off the table.
This will do nothing except make you regret spending money on a babysitter, since you could have had the same argument at home without your $15 cocktails.
2. Prep like you would have for your first date.
This goes for men AND women. My husband told me that before our first date, he cleaned his usually uninhabitable apartment from top to bottom, ironed a shirt and got a haircut. It meant that I got my hair, nails and toes done. And I strategically put together an outfit that made it look as if I had spent no time thinking about it.
These days, it's not uncommon for me to forego a fresh face of makeup before a date.
It may sound old-fashioned, but take care of yourself the same way you did while you were desperate for the booty. It makes all the difference to know the person you love cares about impressing you.
3. Don't drink yourself to sleep.
I'll admit, I did this last night. Because we so rarely get out, those two drinks hit me harder than I expected, and I had to fight the urge to fall asleep on the car ride home. You can imagine that once we did make it home, things weren't all that exciting.
Back in the day, though, we would have had to fight the urge to attack each other on the car ride home. If you want butterflies, do not drown them in gin.
4. Don't talk about the kids.
Yes, if you're new parents like us, you're so hopelessly in love with your child that thinking about not being with them instantly makes you sad. We have spent our fair share of date nights revisiting photos of our daughter's birth, talking about all of the cute things she does on a daily basis and wanting to get home immediately before our parent-guilt sets in.
This is a major buzzkill. Remember how hard you focused on one another before kids? Yes, it's perfectly OK to revisit that place. Your child will still be there when you get home.
And if you're lucky, that passion you once had for each other will be, too.