I believe continuing to date your spouse after marriage is really important. “I do” is not the end of dating. It is the beginning of a lifetime of learning and growing together. There are a number of challenges that we face as our marriages progress that often make dating harder than it was before our wedding day. I was able to chat with Tara Carson from The Dating Divas this week about how to keep that passion alive, and how to work through those kinks that make dating a challenge in marriage. Here are the questions I asked her and a summary of the answers we received.
How do you do dating when you have little kids?
Tara and her husband Jamie were married for about 10 years before having kids because of their struggle with infertility. It is a totally different ball game dating before and after kids, it’s truly a night and day difference. But it is definitely doable! Take some time to define together what a date means to the two of you. According to Tara, an expert on dating,to have a date night you need to be intentional and connecting. And preferably creative!
At home date nights will be your best friend when you have young kids. Put the kiddos to bed and then do something. Shower and get ready, put a little effort in. Do something out of the ordinary. Go roast s’mores. Go cuddle and watch a favorite movie under the stars. Whatever you do, make sure you are being intentional and not resorting to the same thing over and over again. Put the effort in then put it on the calendar. Decide who is going to plan it and write it down- writing it down really helps solidify that this is going to happen. It can be anything! The date could be as simple as going out and talking while looking at the stars. But it always needs to be intentional and connecting, whatever it is you are doing.
How do you find a reliable babysitter?
There are many ways to find a reliable sitter, even if you don’t have family or close friends nearby that can often watch your children. One way, if you are involved in a church, is to ask the church leader over the youth for a list of the most reliable girls that she personally would trust to watch her kids. After going through the list, decide on one, see if they are available, and have a trial run with a very short date night before trying for a much longer night out. You will know pretty quickly if that person is going to work well as a sitter and jive with your family.
If you don’t have a community like that, you can use websites such as care.com. Get references, call the references, and don’t be shy about asking them every question you may have about this person. Be sure you feel good about it- this person will be coming into your home and spending time with your children. Pray about it if that’s something you do for guidance on finding the best possible fit. Facebook groups, college kids, and people you know with younger siblings are all great places to find a sitter as well that aren’t always thought of right away.
Having a set schedule with your sitter can really help with guaranteeing that date nights will happen each month. Map it out one or two months at a time and find the days that work well for both you and your babysitter. You want to make sure your babysitter loves you as much as you love them so they want to keep babysitting for you. One way to do this that Tara does is to have a babysitting basket filled with fun treats and whatnot. It is a free for all for them once they put the kids to bed.
A couple other ways to get a sitter:
Trade! Perhaps you have a neighbor who loves your home cooked meals. You could offer to cook them dinner occasionally in return for them watching your kids for date night.
Swap! Have a schedule with another couple and take turns watching each other’s kids with your own so you can each go out on date night. The kids will love the time playing with their friends as well!
Co-op! Check out all about how to run a babysitting co-op at The Dating Divas site here for a way to always have a dependable babysitter without the hassle and without the cost.
What To Do When Your Spouse Doesn’t Help Plan Dates?
Find what works for you. Maybe taking turns will be a good option. Perhaps one person planning the dates will work better if that person enjoys it and feels more connected through planning. Sit down and talk to them about what you want to do and then get their feedback! If you want change to happen, you need to start it and get it happening.
Once you decide how often you want to have a date night, you then go from there. Decide who finds the babysitters. If you want to split up the different date night tasks, do that!
Sometimes it just works better for one of you to do all of it. It might be something that helps the one person feel connected and enjoy the time planning and whatnot.
If neither of you have time to plan date night, but still want to make it happen, The Dating Divas can plan it for you! Dollar Dates or The 10 Minute Marriage Challenge are both great ways that help you have planned dates delivered straight to your inbox.
How do you break up the boring routines we fall into in marriage?
The more you do it, the more your sweetie will be on board to do it as well. If your first attempt is a failure, do not give up! Chalk it up as a learning experience and try again. The first date you do to start dating each other again, plan something intentional that you know your sweetie will love. Find what is easiest for you. Be the one who is willing to make the change. Make it fun! It will be a lot easier to make date night happen if you both enjoy it.
What are some little extras you’ve incorporated into your marriage?
“The difference between an ordinary marriage and an extraordinary marriage is just a little extra.” – Tara Carson
It’s really important to keep in touch throughout the day. Phones are great for that. Anything fun the kids do or say, you can video it and send it to your spouse while they’re at work. Funny things your spouse hears at work, they can send to you. Or vice versa. The Dating Divas has a ton of free text message pictures that you can snag on their Instagram anytime to shoot over to your honey. Maybe even try to text a suggestive message if you’re feeling it for bedroom time that night. They have free text messages for that specific mood as well!
If this is all new to you, start with just one thing. Maybe just reach out to each other one time a day to start. Then remember to add in little things. Grabbing your sweetheart randomly when they’re not expecting it and giving them a 5 second squish, or just wrapping your arms around them and talking can make for a very memorable intimate moment. Humans crave physical touch, and you will be amazed at what changes happen when you intentionally touch each other more. The more you do, the easier it will be. Don’t forget to flirt with each other and be playful! Remember how much fun it was when you were dating before marriage and bring some of that back into your relationship.
How do you keep it down so you don’t wake your children while having fun and getting it on?
Lock your door! You can always explain away noise, but you can’t always explain away visuals… Putting noise machines in your kids rooms can really help. It’s calming and will help them sleep, while also being a great noise blocker. If you don’t have noise machines for them, you could play lullabies or soft spa music in their rooms.
Then have noise in your own room as well! Turn the tv on. Listen to music, and if they ask what you were doing you can tell them that you were dancing. Try changing things up! Go somewhere else and lock the door. Maybe the laundry room or a spacious closet in the house. Somewhere that isn’t right up against the kids bedroom walls.
Do you recommend keeping date night fun and light, or letting heavy topics have a place in date night?
Dates should be all about connecting and fun. Set aside other time for the hard conversations. The hard topics have to happen, those are things that you must work through in marriage. So make sure you set a time to be able to discuss those things. Plan it so that you go into the situation knowing you are going into those hard conversations. And always remember that you are on the same team!
When you’re so tired at the end of the day, how do you have energy for each other?
It all comes down to priority. What are you prioritizing? You can choose several things from your list that you want to do, but you can never do all of them. Ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice to make that item a top priority. And see if that is worth the sacrifice in the long run!
An example of prioritizing would go something like this: Would I rather have a super clean house but be disconnected with my spouse, or have a sort of clean house that is full of love and laughter? That’s just one example. But ask yourself these things! Decide right now that your best effort will go into your marriage. Realize what your top priorities are and try to make things happen in that order.
What would you recommend for couples who want to improve their marriage?
Using resources such as the Intimately Us app can help your relationship grow closer and help you on the road to improving your marriage. We have many game and date ideas, as well as other resources for learning more about your relationship and what you can work on. Go download the app here to check out all of the date ideas available to you for free! Want even more ideas? Sign up for the premium version of the app for unlimited dates, game ideas, and resources!
Like what you read? Be sure to listen to the full podcast episode here and download the Intimately Us app, the fun and sexy app for your marriage! It’s full of games, connecting activities, and ideas to increase connection and pleasure in the bedroom.