Last Friday my husband and I had a date night. I have to admit that using that term is strange to me. It seems forced. “Date night”? We are married. Do we really need to “date” anymore? We were married seven years before having kids. During that time, I did not understand that term. But, I also didn’t understand what a luxury it was to be able to spend endless moments by each others’ sides without the interruptions and demands of little ones. Then we had kids. Now, I get it.
Even though I now understand the importance of dating my spouse, we don’t always make the time we should for one-on-one time. Life gets in the way, and unfortunately we don’t prioritize regular and consistent date nights. So, the other night we sent the kids on a sleepover (yes, even the baby slept over…her first one!) and we went out to dinner and a movie. The food was unfortunately terrible (the worst restaurant food we’ve ever had), the movie was very good (“The Great Gatsby” didn’t disappoint this English major), but the company was the best part. Those hours we had together were time when we could talk to one another without interruptions.
Reflecting back on that evening, I can’t help but realize how much our relationship has changed since having kids. I remember in the first days after our first was born, I felt so close and connected to my husband. We were a team who was battling dirty diapers and frequent crying together. Side-by-side. We had each others’ backs. I actually thought for a moment, “How can kids strain a relationship? I feel closer to him than ever.”
Then the demands of raising kids hit. Don’t get me wrong; my husband and I are still very much in love, but it’s not as easy as it once was. We no longer have the luxury of camping out on the couch playing video games together until 2 in the morning. Or, the time to grab our tennis rackets and head to the courts on a moment’s notice. Nor, can we take off on a vacation when the mood strikes us. Instead we have to consider the little people. We have to consider nap times and soccer schedules. We must meal plan and make healthy, “grown-up” choices. We spend time playing at parks and watching Veggie Tales. We must referee arguments and squelch whining….
While none of that is bad (except for the arguing and whining), it takes time, energy and focus. It adds strain and stress to us as individuals and as a couple. When I think back to those post-partum thoughts of bliss, I have to laugh. I had no idea what was up ahead in my journey through parenthood. But, even in those stressful moments and even when a few months pass before we have a night out, I’m still thankful that I have my best friend doing this parenting thing with me. After all, parenthood is messy. It’s tough. It’s tiring. And it doesn’t come with vacation time.
So tell us, how has having a baby changed your relationship?