I read an infographic yesterday that said that marriages suffer the most from the time that children are in pre-primary until the first of your offspring leaves home. That’s a dismal thought, and I can’t help but think that it’s because we get caught up (and rightly so) in the lives of the little ones that depend on us. But, so caught up that we totally lose focus on each other.
Years ago, I wrote a piece on date ideas for a wedding planning website (Celebration.co.za) and I loved some of those ideas. Of course, dating isn’t quite the same when you’re married. You’re familiar, you’ve seen the best and worst of one another, you’ve shared so much more than lingering gazes, and you’ve got a few kids (read: snot, scabs, nappies and all other variety of unromantic substances) between you.
Still, dating is crucial to reconnecting and regrouping – as individuals and as a couple. It’s even good for the kids to have a night off. You’ve heard it before, but I fear it seems out of the grasp of frazzled parents that can’t imagine any time off. And, even if they can, they’d rather spend it in comfy sweats and old-man slippers.
I can’t get you off the couch, but I can give you some ideas that might inspire you to create some space between that tush and your upholstery.
Here they are:
- Hire a DVD and watch it on your laptop in a private park, parking lot, intimate restaurant, or under the stars on the beach. Take snacks and wine, along with blankets and cushions (if you don’t opt for the restaurant idea) so that your romantic movie night is comfy.
- Relive your first date – try to wear something similar, order the same meal, and chat about the excitement and nerves that you felt. Remember what you enjoyed about it, and see your partner as you did on that night (note: this should only be done if the first date went well!)
- Watch a children’s movie together at a movie theatre, for a change. This will make for a relaxed vibe and plenty of laughs without taking too much time. Having a belly laugh together goes a long way in re-establishing a very special rapport when you feel that you have drifted apart to some extent.
- Have a gourmet picnic together; either at a romantic, secluded spot outside (beach, park, garden) or on your lounge / bedroom floor (either way, sans children!). Buy his or her favourite things to eat, include some bubbly and plenty of candles, put on some Jack Johnson and just woosah.
- Only have a few minutes to spare? Go to a nearby spot and take fun, silly, sweet pictures of one another. Ask a passer-by to take a few ‘couple’ photos too. This means relaxing and having fun together, with the added bonus of having the evidence to remind you of it afterwards.
- Go on a shopping spree with the sole aim of buying your spouse an entire outfit. This is a fun treat that gives you an insight into what he or she enjoys seeing you wear. Also, you’re getting clothes!
- I love exploring, and going for a drive with my husband is always fun and exciting (mainly because he knows all the cool spots to go). Take a camera and a flask of coffee, put some gas in the tank, and just go. It may surprise you how much easier it is to talk honestly and openly in a car (it’s got something to do with not looking at one another all the time). Use this time to chat, but promise to keep it positive and happy. Once you get somewhere intriguing, stop, look around, take photos, smooch; do whatever you want to do before heading back home from your adventure.
- Make a plan for a midnight date. Set your alarms for 12am and head off to the kitchen for hot chocolate and leftovers while the children are asleep. Remember how fun it was to plan a midnight feast when we were kids? Having this kind of fun together will make you feel carefree and young all over again.
- If there’s no way you can get a sitter for the children, your last resort is to have a date that includes them. While not optimal (since this is more like family time), it can be done. Go to a music festival, fairground or beach where they are suitably distracted (while you keep an eye on them for their safety, obviously. I’m not a monster) and use this time to connect. Dance to the music, go on a hairy ride and splash in the waves. Just do it together.
Being friends is the key to either having or creating a happy marriage. To have a good friend, you need to be one. Making an effort to make the other person feel good and valued is not just about them. It’s about creating a happy, calm, loving home for all of you.