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date night

By Dr. Manuel P. Santos and Karee Santos

She Says: I can’t leave the baby at home

I can’t imagine leaving our tiny baby with a 13-year-old whose only babysitting experience is with her 5-year-old brother! I would feel guilty and worried the entire evening—which I think would defeat the purpose of a date night. Since we don’t live near family or close trusted friends, I think Mike and I need to wait until the baby is older.

He says: We need ‘us’ time

Sarah and I need a “date night”; we haven’t been out alone together since our son was born three months ago. We haven’t lived here long and don’t know too many people, but I have a co-worker whose teenage daughter is willing to babysit. Sarah refuses to leave the baby with her. I would really like to spend some baby-free time—is that wrong?

What do THEY do?

It’s not wrong for Mike to want a “date night.” Actually what he’s asking for – quality “just us” time together – is an important thing for any couple. But Sarah’s concern for their son is equally important. Striking the right balance between nurturing their relationship and protecting their child will bear good fruit for all three of them.

Every new baby – especially the first – has a way of taking over parents’ time and attention. It’s only natural. They’re so adorable! And they need us so totally. And it’s part of God’s plan. Indeed, the fulfillment of any couple’s love comes only when their love for “one another” spills over into a shared love for “another.” This is why children are “the crowning glory” of marriage and “contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves.” (CCC 1652) 

But there can be a pitfall. That intense love for the new little person can sometimes lead one parent – or both – to neglect their first love for one another.

Not only is this “child-first, spouse-second” parenting not good for the couple, it’s not good for their child. A huge part of any child’s sense of security and stability rests upon the security and stability of his parents’ love and visible affection for one another. In this sense, the most loving thing any parent can do for a child is to love his/her spouse intensely and without distraction.

How can Mike and Sarah make this work? To begin with, keep in mind that focused, one-on-one time together doesn’t have to mean a “night out.” Sometimes circumstances just won’t allow for it. When that happens, what about a “night in” together? What kind of fun, relationship-building things could they do at home together once the baby’s asleep?

For starters: Forget the housework, turn off the phones, radios and TVs, close the curtains and don’t answer the door. Then maybe prepare a candlelight dinner together, flip through old photos or read a good book out loud to one another. The possibilities are endless for the creative and motivated couple.

But getting out of the house when you can is a worthy goal, too, especially if both really want it. Furthermore, every baby needs to trust people other than his parents eventually, and also to know that his parents trust others, too.  Any babysitter should be someone both parents are comfortable with, and Sarah is within her rights to be reluctant about this 13-year-old.

But is she the only option? Could maybe friends, co-workers or their pastor recommend someone else? Or maybe Mike and Sarah could try out this 13-year old first, just for a quick getaway to the corner coffee shop. See how it goes and take it from there.

It’s been said that a mother’s and a father’s main jobs are to give their children deep roots and strong wings. A lifetime of purposefully nurturing their marriage is one of the most effective ways to give their children both.