Hey JPF Family, I am so excited to introduce another blogger to you all... her name is Sarah Beth Sutter. Sarah, her husband Scott, and kids- Ford and Flynn live in Ohio. Oh and they have another on the way ;) She and I met some years ago before she was married on a trip I took to see my extended family. I have followed their story for a while and just love watching her family grow. Here's a little bit about their sweet weekly date night ritual, how it got started, and how to help it grow for you and your spouse.
I just wanted to share with you all about our weekly date nights and how we started our routine! It’s just like anything else you want to be routine in your life, commit to it and protect it!
Scott and I were married on April 12, 2014, and while we were on our honeymoon, Scott and I started talking about the future. He said that when we got back from our honeymoon, he would like to establish a weekly date night. I thought that that would be a littttttle tough, but he seemed convinced that it would be a good thing for our marriage. He went on to say that it would be great to have a night of the week that we dedicated to each other and spending time together, because once we have kids... it would get harder and harder to make it a priority. If it was already part of the routine before them, then we would already be used to making time for it and the transition would be a lot easier once we added kids!
So, we got home from our honeymoon, picked a day of the week to start the routine... and I got sick. So our first date night was carry-out and a movie on the couch (if I remember right!). Satan was already trying to attack our routine! He knew the power that a consistent date night would hold in a marriage.
We tried again, and it was a success! Just a simple dinner and a movie... but we were out and about together, just enjoying each other’s company! Tuesdays grew to be my favorite night of the week! People would ask us to hang out or invite us to things, but we really wanted to protect Tuesdays... so we would politely decline or ask if another day worked better. Within a few months, people started catching on that we were serious about maintaining a weekly date night. We took a photo each week and posted it on Facebook/Instagram in hopes to encourage other couples to do the same and to show that dating after marriage is actually more fun that dating before marriage!!! (And even better... you don’t have to kiss each other goodbye after the date is over! You get to stay together all night!) ;)
Our first child was born on Sunday, November 15, 2015…... two days later was Tuesday. You know what! We were out on a date two days after he was born --alone! We weren’t gone very long, and my parents and sister were happy to watch him, but we still kept our commitment to our date night! Once he was born, we had to establish a little different of a routine for our Tuesdays because we now needed to find someone to watch him, but soon we figured it out, and it was like a well-oiled machine! My mom and dad would come over and spend time with their grandson while we were able to slip out for the evening! It was a win-win for everyone!! Now, I am very aware that not everyone has family to help out, but even if you hire a babysitter for an hour or two each week (or do a kid swap- you take your friends' kids and they take yours another night), it will be worth every penny! How much is your marriage worth to you…? ;)
As life got busier and busier (my photography business took off, we added a second child, Scott started a new job, we moved to a new home, we moved to a church plant --yeah, insanity all at once!), date night stayed the same. It was like one of the few consistent things in our lives for a while! Sometimes Scott and I would just have to wait until Tuesday to chat about important things because the craziness that surrounded us, but we KNEW we wouldn’t be going too long without having these important conversations!
Overall, date night has played a huge role in our marriage! We have fun together without the distraction of the children. We can actually talk to each other WITHOUT being interrupted! Haha And honestly, sometime we have to hash things out on our date night because it’s often the only time that we can do that! Those type of date nights can be tough, but talking through frustrations and feelings are SOOOOO important in a marriage relationship... and we usually end up going on to have a good time after we talk things through.
So... How do you get started?
1. Pick a day and commit to it!!!
When people ask you to do things, ask if there is another day that works better because that is YOUR date night (and make sure you write DATE NIGHT on your calendar so that you don’t forget when making plans with people- this will help hold you accountable). People will start to catch on. We have had to move our date night a few times (like when Scott’s parents adopted a child, and the night they chose to throw the party was a Tuesday! We obviously couldn’t miss that... so we did a very quick date and had our “real” date night later in the week!).
2. Make a list!
Sit down together and write a list of fun things you have been wanting to do together --a restaurant downtown, an activity (putt-putt, pottery class, kayaking, skating, bowling, or even just a walk around a park you’ve been wanting to visit), a movie, etc! Pick something off that list each week and go do it!! My husband LOVES to see movies…I enjoy them but I would rather take a walk around a park and chat! Sometimes he gives up his desire to see a movie to do what I would like...and other times I give up my desire to do something outside to see the movie he’s been wanting to see! It’s just learning to work with each other!! You have basically endless weeks of dates!!! So do whatever!!!
3. When the life gets tough, stay the course.
There have been very very few dates where we have had to do this because no one could watch the kids, but sometimes you have to just stay home. After the kids go to bed, make it a special time for just the two of you! Focus on each other….put the phones and distractions away and just enjoy each other! Maybe a candlelit dinner….maybe just dessert on the couch with a list of 100 random questions to ask your spouse….or maybe just chatting for a bit before turning on a favorite movie! ….and there is always the option of being intimate! ;) That’s always a fun activity, too! ;) The possibilities for a stay-at-home date are just as endless as the out-and-about dates! So have fun with it!!!
Thank you, Lauren, for letting me share about our date nights! I am so honored that you asked me to write for you! I hope that the people who read this find it helpful, and I would be happy to answer any questions if people want to reach out!!!
All Photo Credits: Sarah Beth Sutter Photography unless otherwise noted.