Date nights will fix your relationship, right?! Well, maybe. Not always.
Hear me out. While I do think date nights are important to help strengthen bonds, deepen your appreciation for each other and allow for much deserved time alone together, I don't think it's a magical "fix it". As parents, you need a break and you do not need to feel guilty for wanting to take a break from your kids. But if you find yourself on a date night making small talk, you might be missing the mark in getting deeper into your relationship.
Spending more time together won't get to the root cause of possible issues in your relationship. A relationship is between two people - these two people can be very different in the way they show affection, communicate, and even have different parenting styles that could be a stress on the relationship. How well do you know your spouse? How well do they know you?
Taking the time to get to know each other has immense value and sometimes (especially in the beginning of a relationship) we are too scared to ask the other person questions for fear of what they might think of us for asking or maybe we aren't ready for them to have a differing opinion. Trust me, it's better to find out early on if you disagree on things that are a deal breaker. You will both have to make sacrifices, but just make sure you aren't compromising your morals and/or values to be with someone. I can admit I was in plenty of relationships for the wrong reasons - which is why they didn't work out.
To have a healthy, thriving relationship, we BOTH have to be brave enough to ask questions, understand one another, have boundaries established and communicated for our own personal needs and wants and always be open to keeping the lines of communication open. Communication is a two ways street. I know sometimes when I get upset, I shut down and give the silent treatment. It's not a helpful tactic, but it's a coping mechanism I developed a long time ago in my many failed relationships. I'm also very passionate in my beliefs and will get defensive in my stance to be heard. I might be little, but there is a mighty roar in me when my fire gets lit. I used to get angry and irritated very easily, it's been something I realized years ago that I needed to work on, so I did. Many times we are quick to point the finger and blame others. It takes a great deal of courage to have to awareness of your own flaws and it takes acceptance to know when you need to step up to take action in making improvements.
I know for me, there are so many things I wish I would have had the guts to ask. Would it have changed things? Probably. It could have helped navigate our relationship a little better too. A lot of times we THINK we know what they other person will say, believe or feel - but as I've discovered, what I thought was wrong. As we've gotten older, I feel like we've been able to see the love we have for each other in a different light. The same things that attracted us to each other in the first place is still there, but now I see even more amazing things in my husband that I never thought would happen. For example - I never wanted kids. Even a few years into our relationship, I didn't think kids would ever be in our story. Now we have two kids and I couldn't even imagine our lives without them.
I'd be lying if I said our relationship is perfect. We've had our share of ups and downs, screaming and arguing, moments of disappointment, as well as loving and supportive times, moments of pure joy and happiness. I have felt times of resentment, unfairness, also felt proud and had butterflies of excitement. No relationship is going to be perfect and trying to compare yours to someone else's is only going to leave you disappointed. It's not 50-50. Sometimes it's 30-70 and other times it will be 80-20. You are there to support the other one, listen to them when they need to be heard, love them through their emotions, take care of them when they need it, love and accept them for who they are and grow with them.
I'd say if there was anything I could go back and tell my younger self, it would be that having kids will change things in your relationship - in good ways and bad ways. Accept them both. Communication and compassion will take you far. And that I picked a great guy who accepts my weirdness and we have a great time together - there's no one else in the world I'd want to do life with!