What if you and your husband had an evening to relax a little, to talk without interruption and to enjoy just spending time together? And what if such an evening occurred on a regular basis? Like once a week or once every other week? Does it sound like a dream? Or a fantasy? It doesn’t have to be either. Not if you establish a regular “Parents’ Night” and include it in your family’s schedule.
A Parents’ Night is simply a night that’s devoted to you and your husband. Rather than focusing on the needs of your children, which is probably what happens every other night of the week, you focus on your needs as a couple. Needs like time to talk, to unwind, to enjoy each other’s company, to make love. It’s a night when you don’t schedule any outside activities (for yourselves or your children), when young children go to bed early, older children play quietly in their rooms until bedtime, school-age children work on homework or other tasks on their own. It’s a night when you don’t solve minor problems (missing soccer uniforms, forgotten school projects) or deal with minor conflicts. A night when, to the greatest extent possible, you and your husband separate yourselves from the routines of family life and focus on each other for a few hours. (By the way, you don’t have to be parents, or have children living at home, to plan and enjoy these kinds of evenings.)
Here are four reasons to include a regular night for the two of you in your family’s schedule. (Tomorrow, I’ll share some ideas for how to make it happen. It may require some time and “training,” but it will be worth the effort.)
- You and your husband need a regular break from the daily grind. The pressures, problems and hassles of daily life tend to wear on a marriage. They can tire both of you out, leaving you feeling weary and disconnected. And they tend to suck the joy out of life. A regular, scheduled break from the daily grind, however, gives you something to look forward to and provides an opportunity to relax and have a little fun.
- The two of you need time to connect. A busy family schedule leaves little time or energy for your marriage. But your marriage needs some of your time and your energy if it’s going to thrive. (And, conveniently, a marriage that’s thriving helps both of you tackle the stresses of daily life more easily!) And it’s not just expending time and energy – it’s that couples often find themselves going in different directions, taking a “divide and conquer” approach in order to get everything done. So much so that they get to the end of a week and realize they haven’t spent any time together or talked about anything besides soccer schedules, piano lessons, homework and church activities.
- Your children need to live in a marriage-centered family. Children need to see and to know that their parents’ marriage is loving, strong and enduring. And they need for that marriage, not their own interests and activities, to form the foundation of their family’s life. Of course, most children would be happy to focus all of their family’s time and energy on themselves, but that isn’t really what they want. And it definitely isn’t what they need.
- Your children need to know that the world doesn’t revolve around them. Obviously, you want to provide everything your children need and many of the things they want. But you don’t have to be at their beck and call every waking hour, which seems to be the pattern in many families. Your children need to learn that other people’s needs are important too – including your’s and your husband’s. And scheduling regular time to focus on your marriage helps your children learn that lesson.
I’m guessing that many of you are thinking, “That sounds nice in theory, but we can’t make it work. We just don’t have enough time.” If that’s your reaction, I don’t blame you. I know that many families are incredibly busy, and making time for one more thing seems impossible. But just give it some thought. Roll it around in the back of your mind for a while. Or maybe you’re thinking, “You don’t know my kids. I could never get them to cooperate with this.” I know it would be a big change for a lot of families, and the kids would likely resist. (If you have young children, start this tradition now, so they’ll grow up with it!) Tomorrow, I’ll share some tips for getting started and taking a “small steps” approach to establishing a regular night for you and your husband.