Do you really need a date night??? Redefining date night for you and your husband

My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years in June.
We have had the odds stacked against us from the beginning.
You see, we got married when I was just 19 and he was 20.

A child bride.

The statistics for teenage marriage is staggering.
"One study I found showed that marrying as a teenager was the single biggest risk factor for divorce" said David Popenoe, head of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University.
With half of all marriages ending in divorce these days, marrying young didn't help our odds.

Wanna know what else didn't help our odds?
I was also 26 weeks pregnant when we walked down the aisle.

I knew from the moment I met my husband that we would get married.
I prayed for him for years before I even met him.
So when I finally did meet him, I knew he was the man I had prayed for.

Getting pregnant expedited our engagement and later our marriage, but I never doubted for one moment that I wouldn't spend the rest of my life with my husband.

Fast forward fifteen years.
 We now have three kids together, have bought two houses, have completed two degrees, moved over 2000 miles away from where we started our marriage, and have what both of us would claim is a successful thriving marriage.

Through the years we have heard that it's best to put our marriage first.
I googled "putting your marriage first" and got over 144,000,000 results!
After skimming the first page of articles to see the results, know what each one mentioned?
Date night

For years we have felt pressured to have an official date night.

What do you think of when you think of a date night?

I always thought of date night as a night when you hire a babysitter, make reservations to a fancy restaurant, go to the local theater to catch the latest release.

The reality of date night is that it's expensive
To hire a babysitter for the evening ends up setting us back around $50 for the night.
Add in the expense of dinner out and a movie or other entertainment and our grand total for the evening is well into $100.
Not only is it expensive it's also inconvenient
You have to not only work around your families schedule and find a free night without sports or school commitments, but you also have to work around your babysitters schedule.

While my husband and I have had several "date nights" in our 14 years of marriage I can honestly say, we have had far fewer than what the experts would recommend.
My husband and I haven't had a date night since our five day vacation to Puerto Vallarta last November.

I'm here to tell you that we have redefined date night

What is the goal of date night?
To spend uninterrupted time with one another.
To focus on one another without distractions.
To spend time connecting with one another.

It's taken me 13 years to finally feel like I don't need to feel the pressure of having a weekly date night.  That I can disregard what the "experts" are telling me about how I need to schedule a date night with my spouse.

We have date night every night. Yep,

Want to know how we have date night?

We have made it a commitment in our marriage from the very beginning to make sure that every night is spent with one another.  
Over the years I realize we are doing things differently than most couples.
We have made it a priority to spend each evening with each other.

I've heard some couples say that after they get the kids in bed, each spouse goes their separate ways.

One couple I know watches TV by herself while her husband plays video games in another room.

Another couple has a wife that does computer work while her husband is in the other room watching TV.

Another couple doesn't spend evenings together at all.  The wife is busy with her commitments on various committees having meetings out nearly every night while her husband puts the kids to bed.

Some couples I know are spending time together but not really.  Both of them are in the same room with the TV in the background, both of them on their iphones or laptops being distracted by more than one thing.

Does this sound familiar?

When our kids were little we had a strict 8 pm bedtime.
Now with a teenager, the evenings are getting a little later.
Since our teenager has early mornings (he wakes up at 5:30 am), he has an 8:30 bedtime.
We adhere to this bedtime through out the summer and on breaks too.
With parenting consistency is key.
We feel like keeping bedtimes consistent is important for not only our kids health, but for our marriage.
Don't get me wrong, there are also evenings where we are flexible with this rule.  
However, it's rare that our kids are up past 10, even if they are having a sleepover with friends.

Each night after the kids are in bed, my husband and I are then able to focus on one another.
The story about something that happened during the day can be shared without interruption once the kids are snug in their beds.
The discussion that we promised one of the kids we would have, happens after 8:30. 
The thing we have been trying to spit out but that keeps getting interrupted by kid 1, 2, or 3 can now happen in it's entirety.
We don't have to worry about little ears hearing our personal conversation because they are in bed (or at least in their rooms!).

We have a few rules

Early on in our marriage we promised not to have a TV in our bedroom.
As my dad says, nothing going on in your bedroom should have to compete with the TV.
Such good advice that we have taken to heart.
We actually only have one TV in our whole house.

No computer/e-mail/phone distractions
What needs to get done has to get done before 8:30, or it can wait for the morning.
There are very few times when this rule gets broken.
I have already shared with you how I don't text.
Part of the reason is the constant distraction from my family (and at night, from my husband) that it would create.

That time is for us
We do catch up on TV together during that time, but it's shows that both of us want to watch.
No baseball games, no reality shows
Shows that both of us agree on, together.
Thankfully, we also have tivo. 
We find ourselves often pausing the show we are watching several times because we have been reminded of something we need to share with one another.
Or we take a few seconds to laugh with one another.
We are often curled up next to one another holding hands or snuggling with one another.

We go to bed together
Like the kids, we have a bedtime.  Every night, we head to bed at 10:00.  
We get ready for bed together.
We put toothpaste on the other person's toothbrush, we wash our face and we crawl into bed together.
We fall asleep together

So while we haven't had an actual "expert approved" out of the house date night since November, we actually have had hundreds of date nights already this year.  
And you know what?  
Our redefined date night works for us.


Lily Bean said...

that is so beautiful! i hope to be like this someday <3

Craftcherry said...

My husband and I have us time after the kids go to bed every night too. Mostly it's just catching up on our shows together, but whatever we do, it's so nice to have each others company.

Cindy @ Cinsarah said...

That is so beautiful!! I got married at 17 was turning 18 in 2 months but my husband and I dated for almost 4 years so I graduated high school (at 17) and we got married. I don't regret it at all! We've had our ups and downs but I know that God meant for us to be together!
Thank you so much for sharing this!! LOVE your tips!! The sleeping at the same time together one is very important, I sometimes would stay up working but lately I've been trying to sleep at the same time as my hubby! Thanks again for sharing!

Stephanie said...

So wonderful to see that there really is hope of staying married! :) We do really well at going to bed at the same time, but we could definitely try to be more "together" before that too.
I just saw you comment on another blog...I'm in the PNW too! said...

Just beautiful my friend!! I agree wholeheartedly. We're not there just yet with these little guys at night, but so important to take that time and at home can work so well. Great, great reminder and a beautiful love story!!!

Michelle said...

Who came up the idea of date night anyway? My husband and I just went out for our first date in (I think) two years. Six hours of going out to lunch and antique shopping without kids. And that was enough. Now we can get back to our regular "watching monster movies and deciding that we feel like making cheeseburgers at 2am when the kids are asleep" No babysitter needed.

Leslie said...

We’re definitely guilty of sitting on the sofa together, each with our respective laptops. I agree that the traditional date night is not all it’s cracked up to be. Some of my favorite times with my husband these days are when we have to take a long drive together while the kid is asleep or playing quietly

Six Sisters said...

Cute blog entry!! We're so glad you joined us for "Strut Your Stuff Saturday." Thanks and come back soon!! -The Sisters

Just Jaime said...

This is awesome! I love it! We don't have kids yet, so we get to spend lots of uninterrupted time together but I will remember this!

How Sweet It Is-A lifestyle blog said...

I just found your blog through a link party and I completely agree.
My husband and I got married when I was 17 and he was 20. We waited four years to have our first child. This November we will celebrate our 25th anniversary!! We have three children ages, 20, 14 and 9. And every single night we spend together in our room watching a show we both like and laughing and commenting on it. We talk about our day, he makes me laugh, etc.
He brings me breakfast in bed every single weekend. What a lucky girl, huh?
And they said it wouldn't last.
The joke's on them ;)

Rob and Emmalee said...

I really loved this. My husband and I use to do date night every week for the first 7 years of our marriage. Last year we moved farther away from our free babysitter (aka grandma and grandpa). Even though at first I really struggled with no date night. I realized I spend time with my husband every night and not everyone can say that. We basically do exactly what you mentioned above.Thanks for sharing, it helps take the guilt off of not doing a regular date night.

Christine said...

Rachel, this is the most wonderfully honest post EVER!!!! I love your date nights!! It sounds very similar to my husband's and I.

We actually tried an outside date on Tuesday.. for our 14th anniversary. We hadn't been to the movies just the two of us for almost 5 years... guess what happened.. I got sick while we were there... hehe no more outside date nights for us! hehe

Thanks so much for sharing at The DIY Dreamer... From Dream To Reality!

Katie @ Creatively Living said...

Thanks for sharing this! Fantastic info and great suggestions!

@ Creatively Living

Ashlee Marie said...

I love this. with 5 kids I have a hard time getting sitters, and with the aspergers its even harder. so I totally am a believer in non traditional date nights. they make all the difference. I shared this on my FB page this week! thsnks for linking up!

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