At the end of January, we celebrated 16 years of marriage. We dated for three years before we got married, so at this point in our lives I have been with him for almost half of my life. Just yesterday we were planning our lives together, and now we have three children who are 12, 10, and 8. Time moves so quickly, so we want to make sure that we are wisely investing our time in our marriage and our family.
Our lives are filled with homework, church, community groups, soccer practice, tumbling, band practice, piano practice, basketball practice, friends coming in and out of our house, and other various activities. Even though this season of our lives seems chaotic at times and we struggle to keep up with everything just like everyone else, there are a few essential things that help keep us tethered as spouses and as a family.
Important Nights Are Scheduled in Advance
We put family nights and date nights down on the calendar in pen and nothing interferes with those times—not even a church activity. We want to make sure our marriage and our family is priority above all the busyness of life.
Typically, family nights get put onto the calendar twice a month. We have also set up some rules and routines involving dinner as a family and devotional times.
We have date nights once a month. This may not sound like much, but with our schedules during this season, it’s what works for us. We don’t have any family nearby, so we rely fully on babysitters and sometimes friends to watch our kids.
Being intentional is the only way to be good stewards with the time that we have been given.
Why We Schedule Date Nights
Date nights are important for several reasons. We pray that our children clearly see how much we love each other and how we make our marriage a priority. We want them to remember that, even during the chaotic times in our lives, we still took the time to “date” each other.
I want our children to see not only that we love each other but that we like each other, too, and want to spend time together. Hopefully, through us taking the time to go out on date nights with each other and with other couples, we are modeling how they and their future spouse should treat each other one day.
Our kids are at the age now that when we put them to bed they are starting to question why they can’t stay up longer. We explain to them that they need their sleep, but also that Mommy and Daddy need that time in the evenings to talk about the day, to plan.
Date Nights Don’t Have to Be Fancy
Our date nights are nothing fancy—typically dinner and a movie or dinner and browsing around Barnes & Noble with a cup of Starbucks. Sometimes you can find us running errands at Lowe’s or Academy after dinner because running errands without three children in tow is actually kind of fun. But what counts is the quality time spent together.
We spend time with other couples too—dinner and bowling or dinner and a movie. Those times spent cultivating friendships with other adults are important to our marriage as well.
Other times after the kids go to bed, we play cards or binge watch a Netflix series because it is being together that counts. You don’t always have to have a babysitter to spend quality time with your spouse.
Why We Schedule Family Nights, Too (and the Kids’ Soccer Games Don’t Count)
Family night on the calendar is a big deal in our home. During this season of our lives, I could tell you a lot more about our family times than I could about our date nights or the times we get to spend alone as a couple. Without care, we could get so busy shuttling everyone to all their practices that we never take time to just come together as a family and enjoy being together.
Our family nights are set apart from the basketball games, soccer games, or band concerts which we already attend. Those activities are already on the calendar, and we attend those as a family to support each other and cheer each other on because family matters.
In contrast, family nights are when we come together—away from all the practices and games and, frankly, the outside world—to reconnect together, just the five of us. It doesn’t have to be extravagant—it’s the time together that counts.
Many of our family times are spent playing football in the yard, going fishing together, or playing a board game around our kitchen table. These times strike up great conversations; sometimes conflict arises when you are playing games together, but those are teachable moments that you can work through as a family.
Dinner Together Every Night
We also make it a priority to have dinner together every night. Some of our greatest discussions happen around the dinner table. Sometimes this is just Chick-fil-A on family nights, but we are together and seated around the table conversing about our day. Even if it’s after all the practices and running around of our day, we take a moment, breathe, and soak each other in.
Family Devotional Time Every Night
Before we end our day we sit down together, read God’s word, and pray. Without Truth grounding in our lives, our marriage and family could not be strong against all the chaos of day-to-day life. When all is said and done, what matters most and provides the firm foundation needed will be the vertical relationship with our Heavenly Father intersecting with our horizontal relationships within our family.
How we treat these times in our lives matters. Working together and communication are key—this is what helps strengthen our marriage and our family. We hope our family times will make sweet memories for our kids and even take some of our traditions and pass them onto their own families someday.