Gay Dad Life

Why Date Night Is So Important

When you're a parent, time alone with your significant other isn't a luxury — it's a necessity.

Even before the morning sunlight — and my eyelids — have lifted, I'm reminded that I'm somebody's father. It's usually around 5:40am when my 8-year old son Maxwell pokes his head into our room shouting "cock-a-doodle-doo" at the top of his lungs. He's usually wearing an adorably comfy onesie, a look he thankfully refuses to retire. His rooster call is followed up with strict demands in quick succession:

"Warm milk!"

"Turn on the lights."

"Where's your phone?"

"Put on Nick Jr."

"Feed me yogurt while I play Fortnite!" (Note: we don't… well… anymore.)

This Groundhog Day routine follows us as we pick out his clothes for the day —"Comfy camouflage t-shirt and sweat pants!" he insists (shoot me now). We then make him breakfast, prepare his packed lunch and then make sure his completed homework is in his schoolbag.


On the way to school we talk about our plans for the day as I educate him on the music that I used to rock to when I was a kid. Classics like Billy, Elton, Prince, Springsteen, Guns N' Roses, and of course, Whitney. Nothing like the schlock kids listen to these days. (Yes, I'm aware that I've officially just turned into my father.)

Then comes work. Deadlines. Briefs. Putting out fires. Pitches. Writing. Clients. Feedback. More writing. And more deadlines.

Then after we're both home from work, it's playtime, review homework time, bath time, milk and cookies time, brushing teeth time (which now includes cleaning his Invisalign… Yay, 4k!), followed by reading-books-in-bed time, and finally tuck-him-in-and-turn-off-the-lights time (which on some nights is my favorite time).

You know what that leaves little of?

Us time.

At this point, it's close to 9pm. After we clean up dinner dishes, put away Max's toys, and finish up our respective workloads left over from our day jobs, we end up in bed around 10pm. We spend thirty minutes scanning Netflix before finally agreeing on something to watch (usually a Netflix documentary). Alex falls asleep before the opening credits have ended. And that only means one thing: reruns of "Picture it, Sicily" for me (if you don't know what I'm referring to, you're dead to me).

And then a few hours later, it starts all over again.

It's great. It's our life. It's everything we signed up for and wanted. And everything we're blessed to have. But it's also a clear indication that the relationship part of our relationship can sometimes feel more like a roommate situation than a marriage.

So what do you do to avoid becoming two BFF ships passing in night?

Two words: Date night.

Yes, I know. The mere thought of it makes you gag, and not in the happy RuPaul Drag Race kind of way. Yes, Date Nights can feel forced. And, yes, they sometimes feels like you're living a suburban cliché. But let me tell you something, folks, it pales in comparison to the alternative. You know… Complacency. Predictability. Redundancy. Routine. Boredom.

And this is why date nights are something we force ourselves to take seriously. Because when you're a parent, time alone with your significant other isn't a luxury — it's a necessity.

Still not convinced? Here are 10 more reasons to make date nights part of your weekly routine:

#1

Did you know that date nights can increase sexual satisfaction? Now that I got your attention, here's my rationale: I read an article online that says couples are 3.5 times more likely to enjoy above-average sex than couples without weekly-scheduled alone time. I mean, if for no other reason…

#2

Having a date night helps you reclaim both your individual identity and your identity as a couple. We're so busy being dads, siblings, friends and professionals; we forget to focus on who we want to be as people and as a couple. Date night reminds us of who we were and who we are: not just Dada and Papa, but us, a couple. It's a chance to look across the table and see the person you originally fell in love with, not the person who left the bed unmade or forgot to take out the trash (I'm looking at you, Al).

#3

Date nights give us a much-needed, be it temporary, break from the demands of being caretakers, and allows us once again to concentrate on each other instead of everyone else in our household. We get to take a step back, if only for a few hours, which is valuable because it's hard to truly appreciate what you have when it oftentimes feels like you're drowning in it.

#4

Date nights can remind you what you love so much about your spouse. Like when I watch my husband's face light up as he gleefully talks about our son, I'm reminded again how much I love him. (Like when he says: "I love Max so fucking much" – I know, what a poet). Sometimes, this type of thing gets overlooked in the midst of the daily chaos, which is sad, because we end up looking at each other without really seeing. In the hustle and bustle, we so easily forget that at one time, there was no one we'd rather look at (well, aside from Stamos).

#5

Date nights help maintain your appearance. We all know how hard it is to stay fit and fly. But when you have someone to impress, you're more likely to maintain your appearance than just letting it all go. You care about whether they still find you attractive, so you're more likely to be the best you can be if you have little reminders like date nights. I'm not saying you've got to go all Trumpian with the orange face, but a little bronzer to warm up those cheeks never hurt no one.

#6

Date nights help you prioritize what's important. Your relationship should be at the top of your priority list, even before work and right up there with children. Every type of relationship needs to be a priority at some point. Ensuring that you have regularly scheduled date nights prove that your relationship is getting the attention it deserves.

#7

Date nights can be the great escape you desperately need — a few hours away from ringing phones, play dates, whiny kids, work emails, laundry, homework, bill-paying and Paw Patrol! It's important to turn it all off and disappear every once in a while. Too much work and no play causes a lot of stress that affects every area of your life. Weekly date nights will relieve you from those stressors and offer special one-on-one time with the one you care about most.

#8

Date nights up your chances of having a long, happy and successful relationship. According to a new study by the Marriage Foundation, couples that have a date night at least once a month are 14% less likely to break up. And couples who spend quality time with their partner at least once a week were three and a half times more likely to describe themselves as 'very happy' in their relationship, compared to those who don't enjoy regular date nights.

#9

Date nights show your kids what a healthy relationship looks like. While a date night is certainly meant to be all about you and your mate, it's also great for your kids to see. Not only is it good for them to learn that it's okay to be separated from you, it's also beneficial as they are growing up to be witnesses to a healthy relationship. These are teachable moments to pass along values and behaviors when it comes to romance.

#10

Date nights can help you get back on track: Having that open communication and closeness allows you to be aware if one of you is growing in a different direction and make adjustments in real time. It's like if you have a car, you want to make sure you are topping off the oil regularly, rather than waiting for it to conk out on the freeway. What, were you expecting a sports analogy?

There you have it… ten convincing reasons to make date nights a regular occurrence.

If you walk away from this article with nothing else, just remember that relationships take work. Look at it like an important project in your life that needs focus and attention. Oh, and don't fret about money — date nights don't have to be fancy or expensive. Our last date night consisted of my in-laws watching Max while we walked around Home Depot looking for inspiration for our next renovation project. Okay, fine, we also stopped for sorbet on the way home. But we didn't get any toppings. Well, one of us didn't. Okay, fine, I didn't. It was me! I can't deprive myself peanut butter cups on top of my chocolate sorbet.

With Valentine's Day around the corner, now's the perfect time to plan a special date night and get back to the fundamental reason why you started your family in the first place. Because I believe that when you strengthen your foundation, the home you've built can withstand just about anything.

Well, anything except The Lego Movie 2. That shit was insufferable.

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James Shoemaker, bisexual dad of three, in Alton Illinois

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Maxwell Hosford, bi trans dad of one, in Yakima Washington


Maxwell Hosford, who lives in Yakima, Washington, came out as bisexual when he was 13-years-old. "I was still questioning myself," he said "and the term bisexual seemed to fit me."

A year later, when he was 14, Maxwell also came out as trans. "I had heard about Chaz Bono on the radio one morning before school and it got me thinking," he said. "I realized that I wasn't the only one who felt that way and that there was a term for how I've felt."

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Maxwell described his path to parenthood as a bit of an accident. "I was on testosterone for two years but had a four-week break because i was switching doctors," he said. During that break, Maxwell ended up getting pregnant, and wasn't aware of the pregnancy for several months after. "I just thought my body was just being weird from starting T again," he said. Once he took the test and saw the two pink lines, though he knew his life was about to change forever. He went to Planned Parenthood the very next day.

Being pregnant while trans, Maxwell said, was an incredible experience. "I was comfortable enough with my gender identity that I didn't have very much dysphoria," he said, though he noted he did face a lot of misgendering from strangers. "But I understood that because I did have a big ole pregnant belly," he said. He was grateful for his medical team who all referred to him according to the correct pronouns.

Soon after, his son Harrison was born. As soon as he held him in his arms, Maxwell said the entire process was worth it. "All the misgendering, all the questions and people misunderstanding doesn't matter once you have that baby in your arms nothing matters but that little bundle of joy."

Three years ago, Maxwell met his current fiancé, Chase Heiserman, via a gay dating app, and the three now live together as a family. He says he couldn't be happier, but he does face some difficulty as a bi trans man within his broader community. "In some peoples eyes my fiancé and I are a straight couple because I'm trans and he's cisgender," he said. Some of the difficulty has even stemmed from other trans men. "I've had some bad comments from other transmen regarding my pregnancy and how it doesn't make me trans," he said, noting he continues to fight the perception that he is not "trans enough" because he chose to carry his own baby.

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For other gay, bi and trans men considering fatherhood, Maxwell has this simple piece of advice: "Go for it."

Michael MacDonald, bi dad of two, in Monterery California 

Michael MacDonald, who is 28-years-old and living in Monterey California, says he came out as bisexual over two years ago. He has two daughters, who are four and two-and-a-half years old, that were born while he was married to his ex-wife. "My children are amazing," he said. "They have been so incredibly strong and brave having mom in one house and dad in another."

Both children were fairly young when Michael and his ex separated, so "they didn't really break a deeply ingrained idea of what a family unit is like. They have always just sort of known that mom and dad don't live together."

Co-parenting isn't always easy, Michael said, noting it's "one of the hardest things in the world." He and his ex overcome any potential difficulty, though, by always putting the children first. "As long as they are happy, healthy and loved, that is all that matters," he said. "I'm so fortunate to have such an incredible/pain in the butt partner to help me raise these amazing little girls."

Though the separation was hard on all of them, Michael said it's also been an amazing experience watching his children's resiliency. "I am so proud of the beautiful little people they are," he said. "Their adaptability, courage and love is something really spectacular."

Since the separation, Michael hasn't been in a serious relationship, but he has dated both men and women, something he says has been "absolutely challenging. Not only does he need to overcome all the typical challenges of a newly divorced parent ("Do they like kids? Would they be a good stepparent?") but also the added stresses of being bisexual. "It can sometimes just be a bit too much for some women to handle," he said.

He has been intentional about making sure his children have known, from a young age, that "daddy likes girls and boys," he said. "They have grown up seeing me interact with people I've dated in a romantic way, like hand holding, abd expressing affection, so I think as they get older it's not something that will ever really seem foreign or different to them to see me with a man or woman," he said.

In his dates with other men, Michael says most guys tend to be surprised to learn that he has biological children. "But once I explain that I am bisexual, it's usually much more easily understood," he said. He is more irritated, though, when people question or outright refuse to recognize his bisexuality. "While I understand and have witnessed many guys who use bisexuality as a "stepping stone" of sorts when coming out," he said, it does not mean that "bisexuality is not real or valid."

As a bisexual dad, he also says he can feel isolated at times within the broader parenting community. "It can be a little intimidating feeling like you don't really belong to one side or another," he said. "There's this huge network of gay parents, and, of course straight parents. Being sort of in the middle can sometimes create a feeling of isolation"

The biggest misconception about bisexual dads who have split with their wives, he said, is that sexual orientation isn't always the reason for the separation. "When my ex wife and I separated, while my bisexuality did play a small part in it, it was not the reason we separated," he said. He added that while life might not be perfect, it's good. "My children are happy, healthy, and loved," he said. "That's really what matters the most."

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Mayor Pete Hopes His (Future) Kids Are "Puzzled" That Coming Out Was Ever Newsworthy

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And when that day comes, Buttigieg says he hopes his kids will find it puzzling that coming out as gay was ever a newsworthy event. Back in 2015, well before he began his campaign for president, Buttigieg wrote an essay in the South Bend Tribune that said the following:

"Like most people, I would like to get married one day and eventually raise a family. I hope that when my children are old enough to understand politics, they will be puzzled that someone like me revealing he is gay was ever considered to be newsworthy. By then, all the relevant laws and court decisions will be seen as steps along the path to equality. But the true compass that will have guided us there will be the basic regard and concern that we have for one another as fellow human beings — based not on categories of politics, orientation, background, status or creed, but on our shared knowledge that the greatest thing any of us has to offer is love."

In the meantime, Pete and Chasten are kept plenty busy with their two fur babies, Truman and Buddy.


Fatherhood, the gay way

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