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Why I protect date night like it’s my job

 Newsflash! It IS my job to protect date night.

It’s scary to think about the longevity and success of your specific marriage.

It’s one thing to read the impersonal statistics that we’ve all heard about divorce rates.

It’s another thing to say, “Because I am a parent of multiples my marriage is slightly more at risk than marriages of parents whose children have spaced out birthdays.”

Being a twin parent brings so much joy. You witness two buds sharing their favorite toys.  You listen and watch them giggling together in their cribs in the morning and it just melts your heart.

Being a twin parent can also contribute to some stressful situations.

Both parents are up at night feeding and changing two infants and tempers surface more quickly. You need to spend more money than you planned – extra childcare, a down payment on a minivan, additional baby equipment and doctors’ bills times two add up.

Marriage has it positives and more stressful points too.

It’s so energizing to have a partner to share the good times with, to dream with and to support you when the times aren’t so good. But living with someone else is also hard.  Sometimes it feels like your spouse takes your hard work for granted.  Sometimes your spouse’s wants and needs conflict with your own wants and needs.

Marriage stretches you – more than twins stretch your abdomen while you are pregnant. But the growth and beauty that comes with all of that stretching is SO worth it.

So take an optimistic view about your relationship.

Having an optimistic view of your marriage may actually help you take actions to fulfill that positive vision. If you want to learn more about this, read The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Brain.

The thing is that optimistic view (and I have one about my marriage) – it must be followed by action.

Three Simple Actions

There is an overload of advice in this area. What Chris and I have found meaningful and have enjoyed are three simple things related to the day to day routine.  Of course, we are not experts, we’ve been together for 9 years, married for 5, so we don’t have the secret to 50 years of marital bliss.  But we HAVE figured out how to make time for each other, ENJOYABLE time while raising two adorable, yet demanding toddlers.

  1. Say thank you (and mean it)
  2. If something is bothering you, say something politely before it festers
  3. Spend one on one time together every week

We were getting frustrated with each other during the daily routine of messy diaper changes or when a well-intended effort to sooth a child resulted in more screams. Chris looked up some things on message boards (don’t really recommend – some are vicious!) but he finally found some really good advice that has stuck with us.  Someone posted something surprisingly simple.  When things aren’t going as planned tell your spouse, “Thank you for trying.” And this is a sincere thank you.  Save the sarcasm.  Thank you’s accompanied by hugs are even better.

Say something politely before it festers. If mornings are hectic and I could use more help, timing and timeliness are everything.  A polite ask for specific morning help on day 1 or 2 of frustration instead of waiting a week is always delivered with a better tone and receives a better response.  If Chris is stressed about something at work, it’s always better if he tells me what’s preoccupying him rather than withdrawing to think things through without an explanation.

And so, I finally make my way back to date night.

I LOVE our date night. We both look forward to it every week.  It’s fun and it makes us feel younger. 

Every Tuesday evening we go running outside or play tennis at a local public court. Then we go to our neighborhood bar and grill (one that is post-workout attire friendly) for a burger and a beer.  We enjoy our date night for many reasons but just to name a few:

  • We know we can actually workout together instead of rushing to the basement during naptime or asking our spouse to watch the kids while we grab a quick workout (both viable options– but this is a treat where trading is avoided).
  • We know that we have a night off from the pajama battle times deux.
  • We get to enjoy a delicious meal at a casual local spot that we can walk to from our home.
  • The conversations during dinner are enjoyable and rarely consist of logistical childrearing matters and are more about dreams, vacations, goals, funny stories, and good memories.

Think there isn’t enough time for weekly date night? Ours is only 2 hours per week.  That’s less time than the average adult spends watching TV and browsing the internet each day.  So put your phone down (after you finish reading this post of course) and go plan that date night.

Think date night once a week seems too expensive? Think again.  The average cost of our weekly date night is less than $30.  This comes out of our meals and entertainment budget and we can get in about 20 years’ worth of date nights for the same cost as your average divorce.  And I’m assuming they are a hell of a lot more fun.

Now I’ll admit that we are spoiled and have grandparents that watch the kids during date night so we only have the cost of dinner. But even if you don’t have the luxury of free childcare – here are a few options:

  • Book a babysitter for just 2 hours and enjoy some outdoor exercise and a picnic
  • Go to a gym that offers babysitting and enjoy a post-workout sandwich or smoothie together before picking up the kids
  • If you both work near each other go to lunch together once a week
  • Schedule a babysitter less frequently and on the off-weeks have a date night at home after bedtime – a real date night in another room with carry out food (no cooking or cleaning up) and conversation time

Dating your spouse is fun…even with young kids at home. The thank you’s and polite comments also come a lot easier when you’re having fun together.

I’m looking forward to our next date night.  Are you?

 

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