Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dinner for Just Mom and Dad

When our first child was born life changed for us. (That's an understatement!) I'd never been around newborns, so the change was quite a shock for someone who had always wanted to be a mother.



I'd had an emergency C-section and stayed in the hospital five days. At that time, in that hospital in South America, I only had my baby with me for one hour out of every four, so when I brought him home, I was ambushed by how much he needed me. My mom arrived shortly after for a six week visit. I didn't know when I'd get to see her next so I wanted to spend every minute I could with her. 

At the end of her visit, Jim took her to the airport to fly home and when he returned, I was in the nursery feeding our son, so he went to his desk to work. After I put the sleeping baby down, I walked into his study and he held out his arms to me and said, "Who are you?"



I learned a big lesson that day: No matter who else needs my time, I need to make time for my husband (and he for me). 

As you know, I'm all about family mealtimes, but if those occur regularly, then Mom and Dad are entitled to--yes, even need--meals alone together sometimes. Maybe even once a week.


We love our kids to bits and laugh at their antics, but it's rather hard to carry on a cohesive conversation when they're around!

Over the years we've had to be creative about how we got that time alone together to talk, really talk, to each other.

At first, it was fairly easy to put the little ones to bed early and have dinner or dessert together. (It's fun to be the grown ups who can have dessert every night if they want it!)



There was a period of time when our Sundays were full--I mean ministering to others in one way or another from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. So after we sat with the kids while they ate and we got the younger two in bed and the oldest reading in bed, we ordered a cheese pizza ($10 delivered at that time and it provided enough for our children's lunches the next day!) and we locked ourselves in our bedroom to talk and unwind by watching a TV show my mom had recorded and sent down to us--usually Murder She Wrote--very sanctified, I know.

But the kids grew, 
      started staying up later, 
          and 
               wanted their pizza hot.
                    So we had to find new plans.

Our twelfth anniversary came two months after our fourth child was born and five months after we had bought our first house. There simply was no money to go out to eat, so we had them play and read in their rooms while we had homemade beef stroganoff by candlelight. I dressed up, did my hair and make up special, and, you know what? We remember that anniversary better than most!



By the time the kids were all in school all day, we usually had our "alone together" meal at noon, often combining errands with a lunch out for maximum efficiency and time together.

When we moved to the states, we only had one at home. Oh, but we added a foreign exchange student. And then one college student moved home and then out and then another moved home, out, and back. Our new plan was going out for coffee on Tuesday evenings after dinner. We had one of those bookstore coffee shops nearby where we felt free to linger over coffee and talk, maybe look at some books with ideas for the house, or play a table game.



Now that we are mostly "empty-nesters" we no longer have to sneak around to get our alone together time, but we are glad we took time for it over the years. Because we were able to spend so much time talking, dreaming, worrying, praying, and just enjoying each other's company, we really know each other and we're loving this new stage of life.

And, I believe that having taken that "just two around the table" time, made us better at the family mealtimes, too.





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24 comments:

  1. I do think you are right! Taking time for yourselves made you better family members and certainly happier family members. When Amara was little we would babysit so Mommy and Daddy could have a night for just the two of them. We have never done it every weekend but often. Now we do it because we would go crazy if we didn't have that little girl around to make our days brighter! Her Mommy and Daddy still get the benefit. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. It's so great you can do that for your kids and you get grandma time! Win, win! We're waiting for that day, but currently our grands are too little to come 3 hours to our house--it would have to be for a couple days to make it worth while.

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  2. Visiting from the Grand Social. We were fortunate to have our parents nearby when our kids were little. They would babysit so we could have an occasional evening together. As empty nesters, we love our together time.

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    1. Getting a babysitter is a big problem. We dealt with that a lot as in South America it's not a babysitting culture--everyone either has relatives nearby or a live-in maid. So we did lots of favors for other missionaries so we could ask favors of them.

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  3. I agree that alone time for married couples is very important. We try to help our grown daughter's out by babysitting our grandkids when we are around.
    However, even though Ken and I have been empty nesters for years and we enjoy time together every day, we have discovered that a date night is still a special time. We pick a night that Ken does not have any Bible studies, and we go out for a light meal and/or dessert. I get dressed up a bit, and we just make it special.

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    1. Time set aside to be together definitely something that needs to be continued or all the time we are together just becomes each doing their own thing or watching something and that's not talking and romancing each other.

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  4. I loved this! It is important to take that time together, even if it's just a trip to Costco (which we have been known to do). Sometimes we have to tell my 89 year old mom that we're going alone (she lives with us) so that we can have a date night.

    We are in the ministry too (hubby is a pastor) and we spent our 25th wedding anniversary at a church event, lol! Our 30th is coming up, don't know how we'll spend it (frugally I am sure). But we will find a fun way to celebrate it!

    I would love to have you link this up with me on Monday for my "Making Your Home Sing Monday" linky party, if you'd like. If not, that's fine. Either way I am your newest follower! :)

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    1. I am so happy to have you join us! Thank you so much for linking this up to "Making Your Home Sing Monday!" :)

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  5. We always managed to have date nights and anniversary get-away's when we could afford it. Now that it's just the two of us, some of our best conversations still come over meals. Loved reading about your family :)

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  6. I think this is great! My husband and I haven't taken too much time out together, but we did occasional;y. We just had one child to raise and now he will be moving away in the fall. I had three older children and a couple of those were still around when we first got together, and we did take more time then. I have 18 years between my third and fourth child. It seems lately our son has things to do so we are on our own frequently now. I found you on Friendship Fridays.

    http://agutandabutt.blogspot.com/

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  7. I think the two of you followed the plan Christ laid out for a biblical couple. Well done!

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  8. Love that beautiful "now" picture of the two of you. We just have a college age child at home, and have plenty of time for the two of us. I well remember the times of young children and the necessity of making time for uninterrupted conversation.

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    1. Thanks, Pamela! Actually the "now" is about 2 years old already, but we haven't changed much recently--just a couple of pounds in the wrong direction!

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  9. Very nice post, it really is important for mom and dads to have time for just them.

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.
    Leslie
    www.violetimperfection.com

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  10. How fun to see these photos and hear your thoughts. Yes, it really is important to keep that relationship with our husbands fresh, and it takes effort at every stage of life, even as empty nesters. So glad that after 42 years of marriage, I still consider my hubby my best friend and the person I'd rather be with than anyone else. : )

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    1. I didn't marry my best friend, I married a man I fell in love with who believed God was calling us to the same life of service overseas. At some point along the way he became my best friend. There's no one I'd rather spend time with, no one I'm more real with. I praise God for my husband!

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  11. I have a busy family, have just retired from a complete career, have lots of friends, do community service, and of course, then there are the grands, however, my life starts with my darling husband. I need to find ways to show him all the gratitude I feel, along with the love and joy.
    I'm so lucky because he works hard to do the same for me.

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    1. I'm so happy for you, Beth! It's a real gift from God!

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  12. Here here! My husband and I regularly took dates through the years. When money was tight, it was McDonald's. When there was more, it was Olive Garden. But always, it was just the two of us. Now my kids are married and faithfully enjoying dates as well. As you've shared, it's so vital to a healthy relationship through the years.

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  13. Sometimes it seemed our "we" time was only when we were doing dishes together -- but we have felt it really important to spend time every day talking and connecting with one another. Thanks so much for a very thoughtful and important post!

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  14. I'm married to a man who is on the autism spectrum. After 10 years of living in the same house with a person who really is a lot like Mr. Spock, I can testify to the importance of both date night and conversation. For him, date night has no value. We are already married, so doing something that looks like courtship is worthless (in his opinion). He believes that the only purpose for conversation is the exchange of factual data. Not opinions, feelings, hopes, or any other abstract concepts. He has no foundation concept for dreams (not the sleeping kind, the future potential kind), and so believes that no one else should, either. Family meal times hold a lot of unpleasant memories for him, because noisy and chaotic situations overload him quickly--and he's the oldest of 4 kids who were born in a 5 year timespan.

    Family dinners mean eating with my youngest daughter (the only one still at home). We do have a lot of fun, and talk incessantly. But she'll be all grown up and out on her own in just a few years, and my husband is more like a roommate who requires a great deal of care than like a, well, husband.

    Ladies, be grateful for the seasons of your lives and glad for the closeness that you can have with your dearly beloveds. These things are too precious to take for granted. When they are every day or every week occurrences, it is easy to lose track of what treasures they are.

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    1. I admire your commitment to marriage to someone so different from you. We do need to be thankful for what we have instead of wishing for what we don't. Thanks for the reminder.

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