Everyone says having date nights as a couple when you have kids is important.
It's important, they say, to carve out time to be alone together. It's important, they say, not to talk about the kids during this time - and to focus on yourselves as a couple.
But what if....after weeks / months / years of surviving your children (read: raising your children) you sit across from your partner on date night and all you can think of is "Perfect! Now we have alone time to fight about all the shit that's been building for weeks / months / years."
Surely this isn't the type of date night that they were all suggesting. Is it?
I'll admit: this happened to my husband and I a few months ago. On our last "date night." We decided to go out for sushi, semi last-minute. The kids were in bed surprisingly early, and my Mom was home so we decided to go out. The second we sat down at the table in the restaurant, I noticed my husband was sort of mopey. "Why are you mopey?" I snarled. THIS IS DATE NIGHT. I put on LIPSTICK.
He was tired, and feeling slightly under the weather. I was annoyed. And then we fought about stupid crap and ate our sushi in silence. $35 and 45 minutes later, we went home.
"Well, that was a waste." I said when we pulled into the driveway. "We could have saved $35 and fought at home." We both felt deflated and annoyed. Why, when we have such limited quality alone time, must we spend it arguing?
I think the truth is that we don't like to argue in front of our kids, so it gets bottled up until we are alone. But the problem is we don't often have a lot of alone time. At the end of the night we usually have an hour to ourselves before I go to bed freakishly early, and we're too tired to argue. Just the other night my husband said, "Okay, the kids are asleep. What did you want to talk to me about?" And there was something. But when I opened my lips to speak, I'm pretty sure I started snoring. The physical exhaustion of trying to tell the story/explain myself didn't feel worth it. I guess it wasn't that big of a deal. But still...
Thankfully, my husband and I are both very understanding and forgiving of ourselves during this time in our lives. We communicate the best we can, and chalk the rest up to complete exhaustion.
We've also recently discovered something that works really well for us: DAY DATES!
Instead of going out in the evenings, my husband will book an afternoon off of work. We ship the kids off with the grandparents, and spend the DAY doing things together: biking, picnics, matinees, and getting day drunk.
This has seemed to work a lot better for us because we actually have energy to enjoy one another's company, and we don't have to feel guilty using weekend "family time" to do it! Hopefully this will help avoid future "date nights" turning into "fight nights." Also, getting day drunk at a matinee is SO FUN! Ha!