Sexpectations: The Reality of “Date Night”

date night date night

When you’re a married couple with young children, finding time to dedicate to your relationship is no easy feat. But if your partnership is anything like mine, it needs time away from the frustrating realities of day-to-day life in order to thrive. And so… the planning of Date Nights.

First we get through the “juggling of schedules” portion, the “coming to terms with the cost of dinner prepared by someone else” portion, and the “quest for childcare” portion. And then we wait, excitedly, for the day to arrive. We think about how romantic it will be to sip wine, surrounded by other adults in a quiet, candlelit room, with just our spouse, the love of our life, sitting across from us. And we convince ourselves, for the umpteenth time, that this sparkling vision we’ve created in our minds is exactly how this thoughtfully planned date night will go. After all, the planning is the hardest part, right? Ha Ha, you don’t have children do you? There are plenty of pitfalls that can come with date nights, and here are five that get me every single time.

1) You just really don’t feel like going out. Like really.

You are exhausted, and rightfully so! After an entire week of not only living your own life but also helping a lot of other people live theirs’, all you feel like doing is ordering pizza and streaming the new season of Bridgerton while no one touches you. And let’s not forget that you have literally NOTHING to wear. You aren’t in the mood to squeeze into those jeans. But you can’t cancel now. So you’re going. Buck up, you’ll be happy once you’re there. Finding the strength to leave your house (proud of you) is one of the biggest hurdles. But alas, those gray sweatpants are not the only thing calling your name. There’s someone else, and she won’t be ignored.  She is always trying to turn your romantic twosome into a threesome, and her name is…

2) Mom Guilt.  

Mom Guilt loves to whisper sweet nothings into your ear such as Why did you leave those sweet babies? You could have taken them to the zoo with the money you’re spending on that steak that you’ll barely eat half of. And how will they be able to fall asleep without your five-stories-three-songs synchronized dance that you perform for them every night? Now, thankfully MG usually slinks out the door once you become a more veteran parent. So this is one that you usually just age out of.

3) Self Sabotage.

Unfortunately, the voices inside of your head are not the only ones you’ll need to be on the lookout for.  Real voices, yours in particular, can end up being the absolute biggest cock block of them all. When was the last time you had alone time with your spouse, just to talk? Probably weeks ago, at least days ago. And do you know what that means? It means that date night will be the first chance you’ll get to talk about certain things. Remember how your husband always waits way too long to start helping you unload the groceries from the car? Well for some reason you will definitely remember this on date night, probably sometime between the pouring of the wine and the serving of the fried calamari. It’ll just slip out, maybe even during an attempt at flirting. (Because you are out of practice in the flirting department, obviously.) Somehow it’ll get blown out of proportion, and you’ll end up cutting your steak into very small squares while you begin stew about all of the other dumb shit your husband does that you are absolutely not going to mention right now. I mean, you’re not a monster!  If your husband is like my husband, he will quietly eat his meal and hope that everything will just go back to happiness. And this can infuriate you further.

4.) Pressure Pressure Pressure.

Dinner is usually just the beginning of date night, right? There is always the dessert, and I am not talking about soufflé.  The big desert, the true reason you paid that babysitter and shaved your legs: sex.  After all, it’s been awhile since you have had a chance to feel that romantic spark with your partner.  You can hear your husband’s voice, several nights ago, when you told him you were too tired and he was perfectly understanding about it. So tonight you want it to be perfect, special. But this meal is so great that you don’t want to like not eat it all, but you should probably slow down so you don’t go into a food coma. And suddenly a new guest has arrived at your table, and her name is pressure, and she glares at you for the rest of the night.

5.) Tired as a mother.

Now, let’s say you made it all the way through date night without any of those unwelcome voices or guests bothering you.  In fact, you had such an amazing time that you even ordered dessert.  You are full, and possibly tipsy, and giddy, because you’ve had some great conversation and great food.  Suddenly, you find yourself at home, the kids sound asleep, just the two of you left to your own devices, and you are absolutely picking up that vibe from your partner. And this is the moment you will realize JUST HOW FULL YOU REALLY ARE.  You are so tired. But you cannot use that excuse AGAIN, not after how wonderful the night was…

Even if your partner is happy either way, the decision can weigh on you. And the pressure of thinking that this is the way a date night should end is rarely an aphrodisiac.

So don’t. Take sex off the table. Plan a date night that you mutually decide will not end in sex.  Because guess what? It just might happen on its own.

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Anneliese King lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and three wild boys. She's passionate about supporting parents through laughter and real talk on her instagram page @shittymommymoments, and putting a stop to the notion that your house, your hair, or your mental health should appear perfectly intact at all times in order to be a good mom to your kids.