One of my favorite memories from last year was not watching my
young daughters rip into their Christmas presents, or seeing
them perform in the school talent show. No, my happiest
recollection was the date my husband and I went out on one
stormy Tuesday night in November.
A few days before, we’d had our fill of running the girls to
swimming lessons and fighting with them to do their homework. We
could not endure the sight of one more PTA notice requesting
money for this fundraiser or attendance at that meeting. We
broke. We called a sitter and reserved a table at the most
elegant restaurant in town.
And what a night it was. The sitter was late, of course, and the
wind was snapping off tree branches and hurling them at our car,
but we made it. The food, the wine, and the service were fine.
We put the children firmly out of our minds. By the time the
salad came, we were sufficiently unwound.
We started having fun. We were laughing. The subjects of the
weird charge on our cell phone bill or our dire need for a new
refrigerator never entered the discussion. We were transformed
into the couple we used to be before children, two cars, and a
mortgage. We were footloose, fancy free, and out for a good
The happiness of that evening stayed with us for many days. We
were attentive to one another. We remembered why we’d gotten
married and were glad for it, proving my mother’s advice that
happy couples continue to date each other forever.
“It’s important,” she’d say.
But, in the early years of our marriage, I’d make excuses.
Diaper and formula bills left little money for nights out on the
town. It was impossible to find a good babysitter. It was
selfish of us to take time away from the children.
“Make it a priority,” my mother would respond. “Children are the
result of the marriage, not the reason for it.”
Like a lot of couples, my husband and I had forgotten that. We’d
completely wrapped ourselves up in our children and their needs.
We started losing sight of each other, but we knew that if we
didn’t make time for our relationship, our children would grow
up and we’d be left behind, looking at each other and wondering,
“Who the heck is this person?”
So we decided to make it a goal to go out on a date once a month
(once a week is better, according to my mother), and I heartily
recommend you do the same. If your husband is reluctant, don’t
guilt trip him into “taking” you out. You’re not luggage.
Instead, remind him that you love him, and tell him that you
miss having him to yourself. That should convince him.
I’m not going to pretend it’s ever easy to squeeze a date onto a
calendar of never-ending responsibilities. It isn’t. My husband
and I had dinner plans tonight, but we had to cancel due to an
event at our daughters’ school. It's disappointing, but it won’t
deter us. We’ll just reschedule our night out for next week.
We've made it a priority because, as my mother counseled, our
happy marriage depends on it.