A couple of months ago, I was making conversation with a nice, elderly lady at church. And typical of mothers who do not know each other well, we defaulted to the topic of our children.
“Just thirteen months apart? That must be tough!” she exclaimed when I told her about Claire and Aerin.
“Yes, but everyone tells me that these first couple of years will be tough, but that it will be soooo worth it after that,” I replied. “How about you? How many children do you have?”
“Four. And they were all born right after the other, which was not uncommon back in those days. At one point, we had four under five!”
My eyes bulged out from their sockets. And here I was, thinking I had it rough!
“Any tips for a new mother?” I asked.
“Just take it one day at a time. But other than that, I’m afraid I don’t have much advice. Those early years were so hard that I seemed to have blocked a big chunk of it from my memory.”
I nodded understandably. My mother too, has trouble recalling the most difficult parts of her life. She calls it biological amnesia.
“Oh! But I do like to offer up a piece of advice to all married couples!” the lady continued. “Always put your marriage first, because without it, your kids wouldn’t even exist. Take periodic breaks from your children and just enjoy each other. Be sure to have regular date nights.”
“My husband and I used to have monthly date nights. But now, even that is difficult…” I responded.
“No, that’s not good enough. In the forty years of our marriage, my husband and I had date nights every Friday night. And we’ve only missed it six times.“
And that’s when my jaw dropped.
I remember mentioning this story to J and suggesting that we start having regular date nights again. But no actual plans were ever made, because we always seem so busy and so tired.
But a funny thing happened last month. As we were preparing for his parents to return to Hong Kong, as we began to mentally prepare ourselves for the long tough road ahead of us, we began to have weekly date nights every Friday or Saturday night. We never planned this — it was almost as if we had an unspoken agreement between us, to take one night out of the week to have a nice dinner, just us two, to simply enjoy each other.
The surf and turf we enjoyed this past weekend
We do not have babysitters; we do this after putting the kids to bed so oftentimes, we don’t even start eating until after 9pm. Our meals are not too fancy (it is usually steak, because it is easy to make and we both love a good steak), but we make it a point to use our good china and crystal stemware. Sometimes, we don’t even sit at the table. For example, this past Saturday we had our surf and turf sitting on the couch in front of the TV, watching the Knicks vs Pacers game. But we made sure to keep talking to each other, remembering how a shared love for the Knicks helped bring us together in the first place.
These past couple of weeks have been extremely difficult for us. Aerin is full into her 4-month sleep regression, and as a result both J and I average only about 4 hours of sleep per night. Claire is being extra clingy and moody, and we feel that this stems from her grandparents leaving — it is only understandable that our little girl would miss them and is acting accordingly. Add also the fact that Aerin is becoming extremely attached to me, which is not only tiring for me, but frustrating for J because she won’t even allow others to feed her or give her baths.
Even after we put the girls down for the night, I am usually running around doing chores while J continues working (since he needs to be home before 7 every night to help me put the girls to bed, he almost always never finishes his work at the office) — sometimes until 2 or 3 in the morning!
But for those two precious hours a week, we are no longer parents or employees. We are simply husband and wife, remembering why we said “I do,” planning for our future, and taking a step back from our busy lives to enjoy each other’s company.
A few weeks ago my friend and I were discussing when we have children one day and I said I want to have date nights and she was insistent on not leaving her as of yet unborn children until they were at least two and I kept saying but what about your husband and marriage and she could just not grasp what I was saying. But I learned from experience, my mother and father always put their marriage first and seeing such a great marriage has given me so much to go on in my own. The women though from your church put it perfectly the marriage came before the kids so nurture it just the same!
That’s fantastic y’all have date nights!! My hubby and I offer to baby sit his cousin’s two kids once a month so that they can have a “formal” date night.
I need to remember this. I have an 18-month-old and a baby due in June and other than special occasions (valentines day, birthday or similar) we really haven’t enjoyed a date night-even of the at-home variety. So often we put the kid to bed, rush through our dinner while watching tv/surfing the ‘net and then it’s tidy up the house and off to bed (especially for me, I’m exhausted by the end of the day!)
This post made me smile. We don’t have kids yet, but our work loads make it tough for us to have energy to do anything. My husband and I also plan date nights and I love it. I love spending time with him, enjoying his company and just being in love 😉
I also have some date nights with my husband. I think that it’s the best way to keep that flame in our relations.
Before getting married, someone told me that the best thing you can do for your children is to love God and love your spouse. I didn’t always see it this way, but I agree now that marriage comes before kids- it’s a blessing and form of security to children to see their parents loving each other in marriage.
But keeping date night isn’t easy! My husband and I try to do it on a weekly basis but we have to make a conscious effort. Stay-in date night is a GREAT idea!
Pastor Tim Keller and Pastor Mark Driscoll also both advised that couples not just communicate through the kids. They said often parents are with each other while taking care of the children, but they’re actually not spending time with each other. They need their alone time!
Okay maybe it’s pregnancy hormones, but this post made me tear up. It is so important to remember what brought you and your spouse together in the first place and I love that you guys are taking the time for one another. Thank you for the reminder to do that in my own life!