Shortly after getting married, I was a magnet for advice. With the divorce rate so high, I didn't want to end up like a statistic. I grilled happy couples, wanting to know their secret. Nobody seemed to have the magic bullet, but a constant theme was, "Make sure you go on Date Night every week."
Well my first baby had an extreme case of colic. If her eyes were open, she was screaming. Doctors told me it would last for three month. It went on for a little over a year. When she was four months, I told my husband we needed to implement a date night to make sure we stay connected. We had an elderly neighbor that loved babies and said she would watch our bundle of screaming joy. We went to dinner, worried about leaving her, tried to talk about anything but the baby, and returned to our condo within two hours. As soon as we pulled into our parking spot, we could hear the shrieking. We just looked at each other and said, "You think that's ours?"
Needless to say we put date night on hold for a while. When we had our second and third, my husband started to travel quite a bit, so when he was home, he wanted to be with his whole family. Date night suffered once again.
I use to go running with my next door neighbor early in the morning and she was married for five years longer than I had been and she swore by date night. She said my husband and I needed to reconnect. She went out with her husband once a week no matter what was going on in their lives. Her husband was a dentist that worked quite a bit, but date night was sacred.
I was pretty sure I was happy, but with all the date night talk around me, I figured I must be missing something. So we did try to make a standing Saturday night date, but found ourselves wanting to get home early to spend time with our girls together.
One more move and two additional children later, I found myself in a conversation with my friend Jenny. She said, not only do you need date nights once a week, but you also need to vacation together. Just the two of you.
For years my husband has been given annual trips to exotic locations to reward his sales performance. I never wanted to leave the kids for longer than a day, plus I was afraid to fly without them. When he was given a trip to Cabo, Jenny convinced me that it was essential for my marriage to go. I decided to face my fears, arrange for relatives to fly in to watch the kids and went on the trip. Of course I made him fly separately from myself in case anything went wrong. I also found that liquid courage allows you to do just about anything. Here's the problem: this vacation was filled with executives from my husband's company, and because I was so worried about the kids back home, I became dependent on my liquid courage, and I'm pretty sure most of them thought I had a drinking problem.
Present day, we still don't have a standing date night. We talk on the phone multiple times a day, go out when an opportunity presents itself, but we almost always prefer the company of our whole family together. I'm not sure if we're doing the right thing for a healthy marriage, but for right now, it's working. And that neighbor I ran with every morning? She found her husband has been having an affair for years with his hygienist. My other friend Jenny? She's currently going through her second divorce.
Date night might work for some, but I personally think it's overrated. I wonder if Heidi and Seal had date night....