At the beginning of a relationship when everything is all new and exciting you don’t really think about how you’re going to maintain that energy. I mean, why would you? You’re in the throes of falling in love. Falling in love with a man who has full custody of his three children doesn’t change that process at all. In the beginning, there were date nights and it was easy. But once I really settled into stepmotherhood and marriage, we lost sight of the importance of date nights.
I think one of the hardest things for me becoming a stepmom was that I wasn’t a biological mom yet, so all the feelings that moms have I didn’t feel entitled to. I was raising three young kids full time but had absolutely no idea how to manage those feelings. And I had even less of an idea of how to convey this all to my husband. What often came out, in the midst of a fight, was me incoherently yelling, “I just want to go on a date!”
Productive right? Nope. All he could say then, in his uber man dad’s brain was, “We went out like last month that one time. Finding a babysitter is exhausting. Fuck woman.” To which, I heard, “I like my kids better than you.”
This sort of cycle went on for honestly a long time. After years of working through it, I finally realized that he thought I expected him to care more about me than his kids. And I thought he never ever cared to put me first.
Now, as a parent, we really never come first. That’s just how it is. I think any parent accepts that when they embark on the journey of parenthood. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard. And it certainly does not mean you should stop dating your spouse. What we’ve learned is that there is always a way to date.
How Changing My Perspective Helped
Really, it’s all about perspective and choice. Even when we don’t have a lot of money, or time, we make it work. For him, this means simply being more intentional. Friday night we had 4 hours together and no real plan. He said to me, “where do you want to go? This night is for you.” 20-year-old Carlye would be affronted that there weren’t candles and a clearly laid out plan. 31-one-year Carlye, a mother of 4, though those were the sweetest words. Because I knew he wanted to make me happy.
It was a perfect night. We tried out a new pub and had some beer with delicious wings. We love wings. And we talked about this, The Complete Mama, something we both feel passionately about making a success.
The pub, the food, our topic of conversation wasn’t what made it a perfect date night. What made it perfect was that we both made the choice to be there. And our perspective became, “this is lovely, we were trapped in the house with the kids for two days while the weather was blizzarding, and instead of punching them all in the face…we are drinking beer. Alone. Go us.”
In a few weeks, the snow will melt. (See what I did there?) And we’ll enter our busiest sports season; 3 months of no days off. And date nights will be very scarce. It will be challenging to find time together alone. But we made the choice together to value sports and so surviving the chaos gets easier. And we’ll make the choice to remember that we had more time in the winter, where we could be more intentional. When we have a rare lunch break where we can steal away for a beer, or snuggle on the couch, we will cherish that. And instead of date nights and babysitters, we’ll choose to cherish the one hour in three months that we get together. Because I’ll know I am important and he’ll appreciate that I’m not acting like a crazy lady.