Many couples tend to relegate their “couple status” to the back burner once the kids start coming. Jack and I will be celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this year, and I have found that we have had to very deliberate about our couplehood, so that it stayed on top-of-mind for the two of us.
It’s not that married couples don’t want to spend time together anymore. It actually has more to do with the demands of parenthood. One child gets sick, another one is having a tantrum… First child gets well, the other child catches the virus. The yayas nowadays come and go at lightning speed. Husband and wife are often just trying to keep pace with the daily mishaps that crop up. Before they realize it, the month has passed, and they have not managed to go out on even one true-blue date.
What can we wives do to get back into the “dating game”? (And I speak to the wives because I believe the women carry the tone of the relationship… or at least, women read up more on relationships!)
- Don’t always expect to be surprised by your husband. Before life takes over, sync your calendar with your husband’s, and set your dates.
- Pencil in your dates, but don’t break your heart if plans change. Be flexible, especially if your husband has to deal with urgent matters at work. But, make sure to reschedule that canceled date.
- While on your date, DO NOT TALK ABOUT YOUR KIDS! I learned this from a book I read to prepare me for the birth of my second child. The author devoted a short section to “protecting the marital thread” (as having another child always turns a couple’s world upside down). She specifically gave this tip. Couples should make the deliberate effort to focus on each other. Talk about things that you learned at work, new interests you want to pursue, challenges that you have in the office. Anything about YOU!
- Last, but not least, don’t give in when your kids cry as they see you leave for your date. They will be thankful later on when they see their parents continue to be happily married to each other. When they shriek and beg you to stay home—or worse, beg to join you!—be firm. State what time you’ll be home and why you’re heading out. “Friday night is time for Mom and Dad to spend time together.”
Ironically, switching off the “parent mode” for a few hours every week has helped Jack and me become more effective and happier parents. And the wonders, of course, that dating has done for our marriage. Getting married does not excuse couples from continuing to play the dating game!