We are married; we live together. We are moving in the same direction with the same goals. We care for the same people in the same space. We eat and sleep together and use the same bathroom.
We do almost everything side by side, but we need to spend some time gazing into each other's eyes.
That is as true now as ever. When we fail to spend time on a regular basis alone together, we start to slip into a life of tension: less patience, less understanding, less loving.
When we do go out on dates once or twice a month, we are more considerate of one another, more kind, more loving. There's a direct relationship.
We are so fortunate to have a local church program that allows us to have a real out on the town date night once a month, and we often ask my sister to babysit or hire a sitter another night or two. It's that important to us.
Let me stop for a moment to talk about mom guilt. I hate to leave my babies after I've been gone all day at work. I H-A-T-E it. But having a strong, solid marriage benefits my kids. They get to see a happy mom and happy dad who obviously love each other. We are role models for a good marriage, and the tone of our relationship sets the tone for our family. So I kiss them goodbye with a tear in my eye, and I walk away for a couple of hours. You can do it, too. The time away from them is worth it.
It's especially tricky to get out on dates during the busy Christmas season but, like I said, it's worth the finagling you'll have to do.
If you need some inspiration for what to do on your date night (especially in the Harrisburg/York, Pennsylvania area), check out the list below:
- Dress up and go out for a nice dinner at the new Outback Steakhouse at 380 Town Center Drive, West Manchester. If you haven't been to Outback in a while, you're in for a real treat. They still have all your old favorites (bloomin' onion anyone?), and there are some great new items, too.
I'm excited to get filet mignon and shrimp on our next date! I love a good filet, and the shrimp looks so good on the website!
Do you have to dress up? Of course not. But doesn't it feel great to get dressed up and have a special night out on the town? I think if you try it, you'll love it!
- Go Christmas shopping. Christmas shopping may not be your husband's idea of a good time, but if he's amenable to going, it's nice to have another person come along. We have gone Christmas shopping together a couple of times, and I always love it because
- Wrap presents together. Wrapping presents is not a prized job at my house. Neither one of us want to do it, and I'm pretty lousy at it, so Joe gets stuck with the job. He's not happy about it, either. So what I am doing this year is making a date of it. The kids are going to Girl Scout Camp, I am making adult hot chocolate by adding 2 ounces of peppermint schnapps or KahlÃºa to an ordinary mug of hot chocolate, and I'm going to play Christmas music. I'll help Joe with the job as much as I can, and we can talk. That's what a date night is all about. (I'm hoping on this one! Cocktails make everything more fun, right? Right??)
- Make super complicated paper snowflakes. Making paper snowflakes is kids' stuff, right? That's what makes it a perfect date night activity. It will tap into your playful and fun side and get you talking and laughing and maybe even competing to see who can do it the best. Get this book ahead of time to learn 75 creative designs that you can try together.
- Make a wreath for your front door. The girls and I made a wreath a couple of weeks ago, and it was really fun. All you need is a plain green base (plastic or live), some big silk poinsettias, a couple of accent pieces, and some tulle or ribbon. I also got a big pre-made bow. Oh, and you need your hot glue gun. But that's it, and you can arrange and re-arrange and work together to make it beautiful.
- Bundle up and go for a carriage ride. One of Joe's friends gave us a gift certificate for an hourlong carriage ride through Harrisburg as a wedding gift, and we've never used it. We celebrated our ten-year wedding anniversary this past July. Is that sad or what? There is a nice carriage ride place on City Island in Harrisburg, so if you're looking for a spot, look them up.
- Make care kits for the homeless and deliver them. While I think it would be a good experience to have the kids help with this, I don't want to reduce the homeless to a good experience. They are people with real needs and concerns, and they deserve to be treated like people. I think it would be an excellent date to go to Walmart, pick up the items you need for the kits, and then go to the mission or shelter downtown and deliver them.
- Bake cookies together and deliver them to nurses at the hospital. My dad has been in and out of the hospital every couple of months for the last couple of years. Before that, my mom was in and out of the hospital as she battled pancreatic cancer. Nurses are a bunch of people who are thanked infrequently but whose care and concern make all the difference in the world to their patients. Bringing them a box of cookies would make their day.
- Go tubing or ice skating. There are several places in the Harrisburg and York area where you can go. Google and find the one closest to you.
- Walk through Christmas Magic at Rocky Ridge County Park. The USA Today named Christmas Magic one of the 10 best Christmas lights displays in America a year or two ago, and it has only gotten bigger and better. It's a half-mile of walking trails that are dripping with Christmas lights displays. There are all kinds of animals and decorations and wonderment. We went for the first time last year and absolutely loved it. My best advice is to get there when they open or you will be waiting in line for an hour or more just to park your car. It gets very busy, but it's worth the wait.
This post is sponsored by Outback Steakhouse, so go visit the new York restaurant! All opinions are my own.