An evening with her husband turns out to be difficult to schedule

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When a couple get married, it seems like people are always ready to give advice.

“Never go to bed angry” or “Always schedule a date. ”

When babies are born, there is even more counseling offered, whether it is wanted or not. But some of it is the same. “Always plan a date. ”

It’s easier said than done. Before having children, my husband and I used to go out often. We would go out for dinner with friends or have drinks with other couples and we would take trips together. Back then, my husband and I would meet for lunch every day of the week.

Our lunch ritual continued with babies # 1 and # 2, where we not only had lunch at home together in the middle of the workday, but we had lunch together as a family. This is something I am grateful for. Looking back, I’m grateful that we had flexible jobs and a babysitter next door which allowed us to spend time together. But those lunchtime appointments ended when our oldest child went to kindergarten and our third child was born, then started daycare full time.

Because babysitters are expensive (especially when you pay for child care for two or more children at the same time) and we didn’t have family in town to help us, ‘date’ nights have gone down. maybe once or twice a year, for our anniversary or Valentine’s Day.

And then, as the kids get older, our evenings and weekends are filled with football and baseball games, Boy Scout reunions, and three-kid play practices. Instead of dinner for the two of us, dinner often becomes a rush to cook something after work, eating in shifts depending on who has to go where.

So no, in our 15 years of marriage, we have never been very good at “date night”. We’re not alone, according to a Redbook survey – about 45% of couples have “rarely” dates, research shows. About 18% of those surveyed said they managed to go out once a month.

Although it seems like the resounding advice from marriage counselors and longtime married couples around the world is to make date night a priority. And so last month my husband and I set a goal. We would go on a date. A real meeting. Our children are getting older. Our oldest child is in seventh grade, an age when I was babysitting for other families. This should allow us more flexibility to get away from it all, to have that elusive “date night”.

The problem was actually programming it.

The children’s activities were hampered. Sometimes we were so exhausted from work that we didn’t feel like doing anything other than watching TV from the couch. One night, when we had made a plan and had a babysitter, we found ourselves in an emergency care clinic with a child who had an infected cut on his foot. The best-designed plans go wrong, as they say.

But last weekend it happened. The stars seemed aligned as my in-laws volunteered to watch the kids while we visited them for the weekend.

My husband and I found ourselves sitting at a table across from each other at the City Market in Savannah, Georgia.

There was a cool breeze blowing through the Spanish moss hanging in the holm oaks that dotted the sidewalk along the restaurant patio; the music was floating through the market, and we sat there and watched the people go by in front of the crowds. We had a nice dinner, bought some pecan pralines and saltwater taffy at a nearby candy store for the kids, then walked along River Street holding hands.

As we walked, we tried to remember the last time we had a date, with just the two of us. It was before the pandemic, I was sure. It wasn’t in 2019, my husband said. And so we guessed that it was probably in 2018, when we took a birthday trip to New York. Yes, it must have been that year, I say. And then I realized that 2018 was three years ago, half the life of our youngest child. Funny how so much life goes on when you’re not careful.

And so we agreed to be more intentional in scheduling regular “date nights” – to make it a priority. Because when it comes to that, time together is important – and we don’t want to wait another three years.

Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News. Contact her at [email protected]

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