Dating Your Wife After Kids – Comedy Writer James Breakwell Shares His Tips
There’s a myth about marriage after you have kids. It goes something like this: After you reproduce, the romance dies, and you and your partner slowly grow to hate each other until your lives are the basis for a Lifetime murder mystery. There’s a reason the spouse is always the first suspect, and it usually involves laundry. Fold it right to save a life.
But every marriage can’t turn out like that. For starters, Lifetime doesn’t have the budget. More importantly, bringing a child into your life doesn’t lead to spousal homicide — at least not always. If having one kid destroyed love (and lust) in a marriage, the world would be full of only children. But there are plenty of families with two or three or — gasp — even four kids. Clearly at least some procreation is still going on. So what’s the secret to keeping the romance alive and both partners unmurdered, even on laundry day?
Dating Your Spouse
Enter dating. Contrary to popular belief, it still exists after you get married and have kids. Its purpose is just a little different. Before you get married, you date to find someone whose flaws you can grudgingly tolerate for the rest of your life. But after you get married, you date to reaffirm that putting up with those flaws is still worth it. Romantic evenings together remind you of why you fell in love in the first place and why disposing of a body is more trouble than it’s worth.
Not that dating is easy after you have kids. Children take up all of your time, no matter how much or little you have. You and your partner have to somehow squeeze romance into the remaining zero minutes of the day. It’s doable, and you don’t even need a time machine or retroactive birth control to pull it off. All you have to do is change the definition of a date.
If you always expect a candlelit dinner at a fancy French restaurant, you’ll be disappointed. And also hungry and poor. There’s nothing more un-American than paying top dollar for small portions. Formal dinner dates create too much pressure to have fun. You have to clear your schedule, make a reservation, and line up a babysitter for a predetermined block of time when you must enjoy yourself enough to justify the costs. In reality, you’ll likely pay an exorbitant amount for a mediocre evening. You could have just stayed home and been let down for free.
Low-Key Date Ideas
You don’t need a night out on the town to save your marriage. A date can be anytime you pay attention to each other and ignore your kids. One of my favorite stay-home “dates” is when my wife and I put our four daughters to bed, open a bottle of wine (or three), and watch HGTV. We take a drink every time someone says, “open concept,” “total gut-job,” or “space to entertain.” We don’t feel great the next morning, but that night, we have a blast. There’s nothing more life-affirming than laughing together at an adult throwing a temper tantrum over the color of their backsplash. It makes us worse people but a better couple, and we’re both okay with that. It’s what makes our marriage work.
That sound you hear is countless millennials shuddering in terror at the hell that is my life. But my wife and I have no regrets, or at least I don’t. If she does, she hasn’t killed me yet. I take my continued survival as a ringing endorsement.
There are countless other dates that could save your life without forcing you to hire a babysitter:
- Go For A Walk: I’m not a fan of exercise, but I am a fan of free. Your kids will drag their feet, so if you and your partner stay a few steps ahead of them, you can briefly pretend your lives are gloriously child-free.
- Play Cards: We like Cards Against Humanity, but you could challenge each other to a game of poker or blackjack if you want. Just remember that gambling loses some of its excitement when you share a joint bank account.
- Play Video Games: Playing video games together isn’t for everyone, but the couple that frags together brags together. Not that we have much to brag about. We mostly run in terror as vulgar fourteen-year-olds remind us they own the internet now and forever. They’re in for a shock someday when they have kids.
- Talk To Each Other: This one is radical, but hear me out. You can push air over your vocal cords to send messages back and forth. Use these sound waves to bond with your partner—or to offend them completely. At least you’ll remind yourselves of why you usually don’t talk.
- Do Chores: You have to do them anyway, so you might as well do them together. It’s not romantic, but if you perform mundane household tasks as a team, at least you can’t hate each other for not doing them. Reducing resentment is the same thing as increasing love. Almost.
These aren’t perfect solutions, but there’s no such thing as perfect when you’re married with kids. Settle for “good enough” or “not quite the worst.” The key to marital bliss is to set your expectations as low as possible and then barely meet them. It’s literally the least you can do.
I don’t always stick to the bare minimum. Sometimes my wife and I leave the house for real dates. For our tenth anniversary gift, we got a hotel room and a table at the most exclusive restaurant in town. It was fun, but we would’ve had fun anywhere. The important thing isn’t where you go or what you do but who you’re with. At least that’s what I told myself when I paid the dinner bill, which was more than my car payment.
Marriage After Kids
The truth is kids don’t wreck marriages. Adults do. Neglecting your partner will destroy your relationship, regardless of if you have too many kids or none at all. That’s why I’ll never skip date night, even if most of our dates are a tad untraditional. Our date tonight, for example, consisted of me frantically finishing an overdue article about date nights while my wife angrily glared at me from across the room. It didn’t bother me. All I ask is if they turn my story into a Lifetime movie, make sure I’m played by Chris Evans.
James Breakwell is a professional comedy writer and amateur father of four girls, ages seven and under. He is best known for his family humor Twitter account @XplodingUnicorn, which boasts more than 950,000 followers. His first book, Only Dead on the Inside: A Parent’s Guide to Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, was released in October 2017.
Source : AskMen.com