Weekly date night is a wonderful ritual for couples to engage in right from the start. Being married means more responsibilities and more reason to take time out to be a romantic couple.
Once children become part of the family, it becomes even more important. As the children get older, this is a good lesson to teach them—how and why to date.
Forget the kids, the bills, the jobs, the messy house and focus on the two of you at least one hour per week. Don't discuss any of the above. But instead pretend like you are courting.
My daughter and son-in-law came up with the practice of taking turns choosing the date activity. Share the responsibility and set the parameters: must include food or music or a small gift. Honor the other's wishes.
Doesn't have to cost big $$
Don't scrimp and make the other feel unworthy, but don't go into debt, either. Use that great imagination of yours to come up with something brilliant and creative. Nerf sword fights in the park. Grocery shopping in your wedding attire. Send the kids to the sitter and hang around the house in your underwear. My favorite date was a Josh Groban concert (CD) in the back of a pick-up in a corn field eating Chinese take-out.
I love you even more than I did the day we married, and I want to show you every week how much more I care.
What it teaches kids
Why to date your spouse
Letting your children know that you love your spouse enough to treat them as the most important person in your life is not cruel. It teaches them the level of commitment they need to have. They need to know that dating does not include texting friends or talking about their own interests. It means engaging in the happiness of another person and being committed to that goal.
Who to date
Let them know about your own pre-marital dating experiences and how those dates led to the choice to marry. Let them know that they will marry someone they date, and to use the opportunity to decide what they can and cannot tolerate in someone. Encourage them to keep a dating journal that includes notes from every date they have. "I hated it when she was mean to the waiter." "I loved that he came to the door to pick me up." "He picked his nose when he thought I wasn't looking." "She dressed up for me."
What to do on a date
By being creative, you are teaching your children to invest their imagination, time and resources in another human being. Talking about the fun you had when you were crazy in love gives them hope and ideas for when they begin to date.
When I married the second time, I got five amazing stepchildren to add to my own brood of four. We knew it was important to show them the value in dating. One evening, on a date, I told my husband how I wanted our dates to go. They should include him coming to the door and ringing the bell and letting the children answer. He would always say, "I'm here to pick up Rebecca (that's what he called me)." The children would giggle and invite him to sit in the living room and wait. They would ask him questions about what he had planned and what his intentions were. They LOVED this part. I would make him wait just a little and then descend the stairs. He would stand, showing respect, when I entered the room, and then hand me his gift (a bouquet of wildflowers, a pretty rock, or a small dollar store stuffed animal.) Then he would kiss my cheek and escort me out the door. Then the date should always include food. This could be sharing a candy bar or getting cheap hot dogs at the gas station or, if we had the means, a dress-up date to a fine restaurant. He loved that I told him what I needed out of a date and never failed to please. Our children learned a lot about how to date from his example.
Our children will marry someone they date. Setting the pattern for them and making a spouse a priority are valuable gifts you can give them for another generation of happy marriages.