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Keeping our sanity, one date night at a time

When Ben and I decided to get married, right after we booked a venue and booked an event planner…… we found a marriage counselor.

We started seeing Judy Norton in 2010, and still see her today (took breaks when we had the two newborns).

It wasn’t that we thought our soon-to-be marriage was in trouble….. It’s that we didn’t want to GET into trouble.

One of the things we decided, back in 2010, was that we’d do weekly “date nights.” These seem novel and kinda silly then, but now they are an essential part of how we keep our marriage thrive.

We went on date nights (or date days) even during the pandemic. When restaurants shuttered to dining-in, we got takeout and ate somewhere with a nice view and went for a walk after. During the last (and god willing, final) lockdown in California, Ben and I had date nights in the garage, in local parks (most of our local parks have picnic tables), or once we sent the kids out with the sitter so we could have a date night at home.

IMHO: date nights are not just a “nice to have,” they are critical in helping couples stay connected, take a break (from the kids), and take stock in what they’ve accomplished together.

Sunday night date nights are probably my favorite date nights. These give us an opportunity to check-in, and we [informally] talk through the following:

  • What went well? What didn’t?

  • Who could’ve used more help when

  • What’s happening in the week ahead?

  • Who’s cooking what nights, what are we making?

  • Who’s picking up the kids on what days (if different from the routine)?

  • What would we each use help with this week?

It’s a formal meeting, but I really appreciate the opportunity to check-in 1:1. Some weeks we celebrate our successes (got the kids to bed on time!); other weeks we talk through things that didn’t work so well. A recent example is that we committed ourselves to too many social engagements in one weekend and both felt drained. And we decided to keep it to ONE major social engagement per weekend day (we’ll leave the others on the calendar, but consider them optional).

Not necessarily intentionally, but we try to not talk about the kids. Not because we don’t love them, but because the kids occupy so much of our time/energy/attention. We try to be present when we’re with them and give them [most of] our attention. And the reverse is also true: the grownups also deserve attention. And if we can’t get them from the kids (that doesn’t even make sense), at least we could give it to each other.

In the pandemic my most favorite date nights became dinner + a walk. We love trying out new restaurants, and then try out a new neighborhood after! On these walks we just try to BE - look at the flowers in bloom, look at the different houses, observe the moon in its cycle. I don’t meditate, but I think this is the closest we come to practicing mindfulness. Observe, breathe, and walk, and experience the world around us as-is.

I get that date nights are not everyone’s jam. Some folks don’t want to go out, or have to hire a sitter, or find new restaurants. That’s all good! It could be a “porch date,” a “backyard fire pit date,” or “wine + dessert date.” Whatever works for you and your partner!

As long as you can find a pocket of time to be with each other (no kids), to talk, to enjoy each other’s company, to just BE…… then mission accomplished!

Need help finding a date night sitter? Let Be Merry help!

What’s your favorite date night activity? Leave in the comments below.

Date nights in the garage! Not the prettiest, but this worked for us during the last lockdown in CA (also happened to be the coldest month)

Double date nights! We didn't get to chat about our week ahead BUT we did get to see friends <3

Date day at Stinson Beach

We went out for lunch + dessert one day while the kids were at school. This is at Main Street Cupertino

A nice date day at UCSC Botanical Gardens

Date nights at home. We sent the kids out with the babysitter so we could have a nice, quiet dinner :)

Date night at a park! It was BYO Everything. :-)

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