Reconnecting with your partner

Aug 8, 2008 at 12:08 a.m. ET

I'm the first to admit I let the business of our life get out-of-control sometimes. It's the path of least resistance: give into the craziness and the tiredness -- and let your relationship with your partner slide. Not good.

For our anniversary last summer, I was stuck on what to give my husband as a gift. Finally I asked him if there was anything he wanted. He said at least one night out per month with me was what we wanted. Say it with me now: Aw.

Cute or not, he had a point. We needed the time together for the health of our relationship as well as the health of our whole family.

Excuses, excuses

For several months, we did well with this effort, and often made it out as a couple twice a month. But then the holidays were on us, the sitter had to cancel one night, then I was laid off and money was extra tight...and suddenly it had been five months since we had been out alone. Five months.

Ironically, it was during those stressful times that being out together would have been most beneficial to us, emotionally speaking. We should have found a way to go out and not given into the excuses. But regardless of "should have", at least we recognize now that we need to do this, and we are making dates happen.

Even in the best of times, it can be hard to commit to date nights. We do so much, every day, often primarily for other people, that often our first instinct is a nap. It is for me, anyway. The thing is, date night is as much about the effort and intent to be together as it is what you do on your date. Heck, a date can be a walk around the block in the moonlight while your neighbor watches your kids as long as the time together is intentional and meaningful. Playing hooky from work to go watch a movie and hold hands in the dark, going out for ice cream, or some simple thing. A nice dinner out is nice, but a date doesn't have to be an "event" other than the event of being together.

back on track

In the last couple of months, we've gotten back on track. We've made it out on dates three times in seven weeks, and have a sitter scheduled for tomorrow night.

It took some effort, but we have a list of sitters we can call that our kids like and meet our standards. We have places we like to go and find ourselves looking for new things to try or go to together. We look forward to our date nights, knowing our children are in good hands and we can really enjoy ourselves.

Date nights aren't just about the night (or day or evening), either. The good feelings generated during dates flows out to other aspects of out life. Date nights -- and reestablishing that connection to my husband -- helps make even the stressful days just a touch smoother.

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