One evening after a frustrating work day, my partner and I found ourselves arguing about household duties. While I don’t remember what started the argument, I know we were standing in our kitchen having a heated exchange about a paper towel roll. Just when it seemed like we were both reaching our breaking point, my partner asked, “When’s the last time we went on a date?”
The question caught me by surprise because we hadn’t talked about date night outside our home in a while. As I racked my brain, I realized we hadn’t been on a date since our son was just a few months old. Suddenly, the paper towel roll seemed insignificant compared to the realization that my partner and I were no longer dating each other.
One simple question led to an hours-long conversation about how we’d gotten ourselves to this point. Here’s why we’re prioritizing date nights again.
We Miss Each Other
The more I came to terms with my partner’s initial question, the more I understood that our worst fear had come true—we were living like roommates in our home. I’m not a relationship expert, but I don’t think partners are supposed to treat each other like strangers. However, I also know that becoming parents can change relationship dynamics and make it tough to focus on each other.
In our case, between adjusting to becoming first-time parents and having different work schedules, we haven’t always been on the same page about things. This led to arguments that usually ended with me crying and wondering why I thought I was capable of being in a serious relationship.
Underneath the frustration is the knowledge that my partner and I enjoy our friendship. When we’re able to relax, it almost feels like we’re the same young adults who could take one look at each other and burst out laughing. Our date nights in the past were always filled with laughter and carefree moments that we haven’t really allowed ourselves to have as parents.
We Need Playtime Too
In my opinion, date nights count as playtime for partnerships. Although we enjoy going out to eat, we also like going to golf at night or spending an unspecified amount of time in the arcade. It gives us the chance to focus on other things aside from talking about our son or our responsibilities for a little while. Of course those things are important, but so is tending to our need to decompress.
Life can be stressful and, as couples therapy taught us, we need to remember what it’s like to allow ourselves to have fun.
We’re Rebuilding Our Relationship Values
Truthfully, my partner and I didn’t really spend time discussing certain things that are now affecting our relationship. From finances to individual family values, we’ve realized how important it is to talk. We used to spend our date nights talking about parts of our past we were comfortable sharing, and it feels like a great time to start doing that again.
What we’re learning is that the way we grew up profoundly affects how we choose to show up in our relationship. Although he doesn’t feel he’s traditional, my partner’s actions have suggested otherwise. For example, his family believes it’s the woman’s job to take care of the household and the children while the man works to provide. Given the fact that we never discussed how we wanted this aspect of our lives to look, the way I’ve shown up is completely different because I believe a relationship is a partnership.
Prioritizing date nights has given us a chance to think and talk about how we want to approach our relationship and household.
We’re Holding Space for Communication
I know as well as you do that date nights aren’t some magical elixir that will fix relationship problems; it requires consistent effort and commitment on behalf of both partners. Realistically, there are times where it’ll feel like one partner is giving more than the other in certain areas, but that’s why it’s important to hold a space to communicate with each other.
For my partner and I, we seem to let our guard down the most when we’re not stressed and feel safe enough to be vulnerable with each other. These days, it seems like the space where we’re able to do that without constantly talking about our household needs and being parents is our date nights. It’s a small step in the grand scheme of things, but I’m learning to be grateful for the progress that’s been made.