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.

Show Comments ()
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Painful Christmas Taught This Dad the Meaning of Home

Erik Alexander spent Christmas 2005 in Los Angeles after being displaced from his New Orleans home after Hurricane Katrina — it was a painful experience, but one that taught him the meaning of home.

Everything that happens in our lives is meant to teach us something. These experiences — good, the bad, and the ugly —accumulate to help us grow into the people we are. I see how true this is with each passing day.

In 2005, my life was turned upside down. Katrina blew everyone's life to hell and then we had to pick up what was left and learn to live again. After becoming a 'refugee' in Memphis, I decided to move out west because I had always wanted to live in LA. I had stars in my eyes and dreams of making it big. FEMA money in my pocket, I loaded up my little blue Mazda Protege and started my journey across the country to become a famous pop singer. It was just after Thanksgiving when I moved, and I was lucky enough to have a couple of sweet friends to meet up with when I arrived. Christmas time was quickly approaching, but I wasn't ready for it.

Y'all, I loooove the Holidays. I always have. There are so many things about this time of year that are special to me... the decorations, the cheerful people, and most of all my family. I didn't realize how big of a role family played until I moved. I had to relearn how to enjoy Christmas.

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

Gay Men and Their Kids Celebrate Hanukkah

Photos of gay men and their kids celebrating the first night of Hanukkah

Happy Hanukkah! We've loved seeing all the family pics from dads and their kids celebrating the first night of the holiday . Enjoy some of our favorites. Have your own? Send them to dads@gayswithkids.com!

Keep reading...
Gay Dad Photo Essays

These Dads and Kids Came to Sleigh (Their Santa Photos)

Our annual roundup of gay dads and their kids sleighing their family photo with Santa!

Christmas is never complete without trekking to your local mall for a quick pic with Santa! And these dads and their kids didn't disappoint. Check out this photo essay of gay dads and their kids serving some major lewks alongside Saint Nick!

Keep reading...
News

Indiana Court Says Couples Using Sperm Donors​ Can Both Be Listed on Birth Certificate — But Ruling Excludes Male Couples

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in the case, a major victory for LGBTQ parents — but the Attorney General may appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Friday, a US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling from a lower court that said that both parents in a same-sex relationship are entitled to be listed on the birth certificate — previously, the state of Indiana had required the non-biological parent within a same-sex relationship using assisted reproductive technologies to adopt their child after the birth in order to get her or his name listed on the birth certificate, a lengthy and expensive process not required of straight couples in the same situation.

It's a double standard LGBTQ parents have long been subjected to in many states across the country. So this represent a major win. As reported by CNN, this ruling "takes a lot of weight off" the shoulders of LGBTQ parents, said Karen Celestino-Horseman, a lawyer representing one of the couples in the case. "They've been living as families and wondering if this was going to tear them apart."

The 7th US Circuit Court of Appeals deliberated the case, according to CNN, for more than two and a half years, which is one of the longest in the court's history.

However, because all the plaintiffs in the case involved female same-sex couples using sperm donors, the ruling left open the similar question of parenting rights with respect to male couples. Indiana's Attorney General, moreover, may also appeal the case to the Supreme Court.

We'll be following the case closely and be sure to keep you up to date. For more on this recent decision, read CNN's article here.

Personal Essays by Gay Dads

As a Gay Dad, What's the Impact of Letting My Son Perform Drag?

Michael Duncan was excited when his 10-year-old son asked if he could perform in drag for charity — but he also felt fear and anxiety.

As LGBT parents, we have all lived through some sort of trauma in our lives. For many it is the rejection of our family, being bullied, or abuse. We learn to be vigilant of our surroundings and often are very cautious of who we trust. As adults, we start to become watchful of how much we share and we look for "red flags" around every corner.

So, what effect does this have on our children? Does it unintentionally cause us to be more jaded with our interactions involving others? For some the answer may be a resounding "no." But as we look deeper into the situation, we often find that through survival our interactions with others have changed and we may not even realize exactly how much we are projecting on those around us.

Keep reading...
Diary of a Newly Out Gay Dad

A Gay Chiropractor Explains Why He Came Out to His Patients

After Cameron Call, a chiropractor, came out to his family this past year, he knew he had one more step to take — he had to come out to his patients

Fear is an interesting thing. It motivates when it shouldn't, shows at inconvenient times, and is the author of stories that do nothing but hold us back. I would argue though, too, that fear has some good qualities. I believe it helps us to feel. And I think it can be a great teacher as we learn to recognize and face it.

For years fear prevented me from embracing my truth and accepting a large part of who I am. I know I am not alone in that regard. But for so long my fear convinced me that I was. Fear is what kept me from ever telling my parents or anyone growing up that I am gay. Fear mingled with strong religious teachings, embraced at a young age, which led me to believe that I could cure myself of my attractions to the same gender. And fear is a part of what kept me in my marriage to a woman for over ten years.

Keep reading...
Personal Essays by Gay Dads

A Gay Dad Gains Clarity After a Health Scare

A recent health scare helped give Erik Alexander clarity.

Sometimes fear can cripple the mind and hinder ones judgement. Having children of my own, I have come to grips with accepting the things I cannot change and learned to take action when there is no other choice. When it comes to my own personal health, the future and well being of my family gives me all the clarity I need to make the right decision about any kind of health scare.

This episode is dedicated to all the parents out there that are going through or have gone through similar situations.

Keep reading...

Fatherhood, the gay way

Get the latest from Gays With Kids delivered to your inbox!

Follow Gays With Kids

Powered by RebelMouse