You have a date! With your spouse! Baby is with the babysitter, and you’re going out of the house without baby gear. You will look at each other and talk to each other and actually finish thoughts and sentences. What a dream come true!
As new parents, though, often we find ourselves wrapped up in all things baby even when we are away from the baby. In order to maintain your sustainable bond as spouses, it’s important to make an effort to solidify the foundation of your relationship as lovers, not just as parents. Parenting together is a very important part of your family unit, and hopefully it is something you feel successful at with your spouse. But, you must nurture the role of your spouse as your lover and continue to grow that part of your relationship as well.
Scheduling date night is an important first step. Making the effort to get out of the house just the two of you is essential to nurturing your relationship. The next step is the hard one: NOT falling into discussing your relationship as parents. It may be unavoidable to a certain extent, but try to talk about and engage with other topics when you’re on your date. Need some talking points?
Taking a trip down memory lane with your partner is always bound to be fun. Remembering your first date, or the silly things you did and said together when you were first falling in love brings that feeling back to the surface. Ask each other what your favorite date was together, or your favorite holiday memory, or how each of you felt the first time you said “I love you.” It’s often easy to fall into the exhaustion of parenting an infant and forget that you were once head over heels for your partner. Take some time to remember exactly how that felt when that’s all that there was to your relationship.
If you take this opportunity to go see an actual grown-up movie, discussing the movie can be a great conversation for you both. It becomes rare to have a complete conversation at all as parents, let alone have an intellectual discussion about a film. Elevating your conversation above that of bottles and diapers will help remind you how smart you both are or how you both have the same sense of humor. Bonding over movies is something that friends and family do all the time. Film is an excellent way to make memories together. Watching a movie together and talking and laughing about it later is a great relationship builder.
If you are ready to get super mushy over each other, take a moment to talk about what you love about each other. Remember the days of falling in love with this person, lying in bed, and just staring into each other’s eyes thinking about how lucky you are? Come back to that now. Tell each other the things you still love about each other and any new things you love about each other. Love evolves as children become part of it. Cleaning all the baby bottles becomes a romantic gesture. Tell your partner what you love about them in this new role and what they do to make you feel loved and cherished.
If that gets too gushy, politics can be an escape with plenty to talk about. People say to avoid talking about politics, but it should be a safe conversation with your spouse, whether you agree or not on issues or people. Whether you discuss the circus of the campaign season and election, or talk about any local or regional politics that are happening, you can help keep each other informed on issues that affect our neighborhoods and our world. Is there something happening locally that one or both of you feel passionately about? Are you involved with a campaign in some way? Would you like to be? Are you just completely frustrated with the existing presidential candidates and want to start your own commune? Chat about it!
Ah, religion. Another one that we are generally told to stay away from in conversation. Again, with your spouse, this shouldn’t be a hot button issue even if you come from different ends of religion. If religion is a significant part of your relationship, date night is a great time to discuss the spiritual aspect of your relationship. Talk about how you feel like you are connected with your own spirituality and how you feel connected with your spouse spiritually.
Okay, not that kind of fantasy! Well, I mean, certainly that could be part of the conversation. But talk to your spouse about a fantasy vacation or a weekend away, or even just a day that you dream about having either on your own or together. The more you talk about your desires with your spouse, the more your spouse knows about what you want and need and will hopefully respond in a way to meet those needs. Start planning your 10-year anniversary trip, or your summer beach house you’d like to purchase one day, or even where you’d like to retire one day. Dream away with your love during this time you have together.
Like a real book? Not The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Yes. What are you reading right now? If you were a bookworm before Baby, you will likely prioritize reading afterward. It’s not easy to do so, but it is possible. Maybe you’re reading a book for work, a parenting book, or just a light entertaining book. Whatever it is, it’s always fun to discuss what’s happening in the book you’re reading and what you think about it. It’s a great way to stimulate an intellectual bond with you and your partner. You don’t have to read the same thing, but it can also be fun to have a mini book club with your partner so you know you will have something to talk about!
Whether you have your own app, or use the increasingly common mini computers at restaurants, games are a great way to just have some lighthearted fun on your date. Lots of restaurants now have trivia games or couples games to play while you’re waiting for your food or during drinks. Often these games will also spark some conversation that you may not have had otherwise. And let’s face it: when was the last time you just had fun and giggled with your partner? For a couple hours, don’t think about the bills or the dishwasher or diapers and formula. Just play a game together. The more you play with your spouse, the deeper your bond will grow.
If you want to get deep, have some conversation about your relationship. Talk about where you are in the relationship and goals you each have individually as well as together. The details don’t need to be worked out in this kind of conversation. Instead, make this a time for you to dream big together. Talk about what you feel like is going well in your relationship and discuss ways you make those parts sustainable. Dream together about what your relationship will look like in 5, 10, 25 years from now. The popular site Today’s Letters offers a great idea for asking your spouse weekly questions to keep you both conscious and intentional about your relationship.
No matter how long you have been together, there is always something new to learn about your partner. They lived nearly a lifetime without you, and have at least part of their life that is entirely separate from you. Find a list of interview questions and ask each other about some obscure topics that you may not have thought about before. Do you know which celebrity your partner would want to play them in a movie? Have you ever asked what their favorite summer memory is as a kid? How about what they would do if they were given three weeks vacation and a round trip ticket to anywhere? You never know what new things you may learn about your partner, but it’s bound to be interesting, entertaining, and enlightening.
We all like to pretend we don’t follow celebrity news, but somehow we are always pretty caught up with what’s going on in Taylor’s life. It’s pretty hard to miss most of the time. So let loose on your date with your partner and go ahead and gossip a little. Talk about how quick Taylor moves on in relationships, how crazy talented Beyonce is, and how just plain crazy Kanye is. Talk about how fun it would be to get into the best restaurants and be treated like a VIP, but how annoying it would be to have paparazzi surrounding you when you’re in pyjama pants with bedhead. All of a sudden you will find yourselves very grateful for the little life you have created together.
If celebrities bore you, catch up on what’s happening with family and friends. Often both partners become the keeper of news on their own family and certain friends. You can use some of your date time to catch up on what’s happening in the lives of family and friends. This isn’t about gossiping necessarily; just getting updates on what’s new. Is someone starting a new job? Is something struggling with their health? Does someone need some extra attention these days for one reason or another? Sometimes other relationships can become burdensome without our spouse realizing it. This can be a great way to get on the same page about what kind of emotional energy is being expended outside of your relationship.
Have you and your partner explored the Five Love Languages? It’s an excellent resource for communication and learning how to make your partner feel loved. If you have never discussed the love languages, you can start at the beginning with the quiz to determine each of your individual love languages. Are you a physical touch person or more into little gifts? Do you prefer quality time with your partner or are affirming words more important? Maybe help around the house or acts of service are the way to your heart. If they are something you are already familiar with, checking in to see if they have changed can be helpful. Checking in about how well (or not) each of you is doing in communicating your love is a good conversation to have.
What have you been listening to lately? Do you have a new favorite song? Is there an artist you just can’t get enough of? Or a new album that is really amazing? Or maybe you started listening to an interesting podcast or audio book. Share it with your partner. Tell each other what has been sparking your interest and why it lights you up inside. Even better, listen to something together. Listen to an entire album together, a stand up comedy routine, or an interesting podcast. Listening to music together and talking about what you like about it is an especially meaningful experience. Music lights up parts of our brain that are emotional hot spots. Sharing that with your partner can be very special.
Hopefully your date is going well by this point. If so, talk about your next date! Remember when you first started dating and you just couldn’t wait until you saw each other again? Talk about how you can’t wait for your next date. Yes, you are going home together. And you’ll see each other in the middle of the night when the baby wakes for a feeding, and you’ll sleep-drink through coffee together in the morning. But, get excited talking about the next time you will really see each other like this. It doesn’t matter what you do. Whether it’s just going out for pizza or getting all dolled up for a fancy dinner, make sure to keep planning dedicated time for just each other.
Alright, alright. How can you not talk about the baby at all? If you have exhausted all other topics and you really want to talk about the adorable or hilarious things your baby has been doing, have at it. Parenthood is a huge part of your lives now and takes up most of your consciousness. It’s good to also bond over being parents together to what are no doubt the most amazing kids on the planet. It is wonderful to know you have a partner to lean on during the tough parts of parenting. It is arguably even more wonderful to know that you have someone with which to share the joys of parenting. Your spouse is the only other person in the world that gets how funny/smart/awesome those kids are. So sometimes, go ahead and brag to each other about them!