The first rule of date night: Do not call it Date Night.
Call it an opportunity to spend time together. Call it a chance to sit at a table rather than on the sofa. Call it an opportunity to not do the washing up. Call it a chance to finish sentences. Call it ANYTHING but don’t call it date night – you’re better than that – unless of course you are ‘dating’ someone or you are a character from Friends. Then Date Night is fine.
The second rule of date night: Talk about your children.
This is your chance to talk about them – talk about how they are, what they’ve done recently, what you’re proud of and any worries you have. The chances are that this is the only time you’ll actually be able to concentrate on talking about them without them there. Why on earth would you not talk about them? They are the most important people in your world other than the person you are sitting opposite – banning them from conversation is weird.
My husband and I went out for dinner the other night – whilst the children are certainly not all we talked about it was great to talk about them. I told Chris things that I hadn’t thought to tell him – the small things – how Joni described a boy a nursery who she didn’t know the name of (he has a funny face) and how Wilbs is just oh so proud of himself at the moment with all his new words. These are things I would not have got round to telling Chris if we were busy at home and not concentrating on talking. It felt good to be able to talk (gloat) freely to the other person in the world who loves them as much as I do without the eyes-glazed-over look I so often get when I start a sentence with ‘You’ll never guess what Joni said …’
The third rule of date night: Make it part of your family culture, rather than a random idea every now and then.
This one is really the most important. Make putting each other first part of the culture of your family. One day, not too far away, your children will no longer see you as the most important person in their life. Whilst at the moment I am basking in the unadulterated joy of being the best, most favourite person in the whole world to Joni and Wilbur I know it won’t last forever. It won’t be long before their friends, then their own partners and families are more important than me – so I need to make sure that I am still the most important person to my husband and vice versa. I don’t believe this just happens. It needs to be part of the culture of the family. Easier said than done. Life is busy and its easy to forget about each other. When it happens here the signs are very clear. We are snappy with each other, we get angry easily with one another and I personally find Chris just a little bit irrationally annoying. This is easily remedied though – some quality time spent together and all of those domestic irritants go away, they don’t matter because we are each others number one fan, really. We are working all the time on putting each other first, protecting our relationship and saving up for our future – the one where the children have left home and suddenly its just the two of us again.