Date nights with myself?
May 28, 2013 2:45 PM   Subscribe

My husband has a demanding job, I'm a stay-at-home mom. I need to get away from the house and kids, but he's not interested in going out on a "date night." What should I do?

Eight months ago, my husband got a fabulous job in the city where his family lives, requiring us to move. He leads a team of 7 people and easily spends 60+ hours/week working. He's usually traveling about 10 days a month. He often goes on golf/happy hour/dinner meetings with clients and co-workers. He loves his job and he excels at it.

Because his job is so demanding in terms of time, I've remained a stay-at-home mom who does the occasional round of freelance work. Our kids are 7 and 2. Before we moved, we lived in the same city as my family. My parents would generally babysit for us at least once a week. We could go out fairly often. I had time to work on my own projects, too.

Since we've moved and lost my family as babysitters, my husband has no interest in going out. He wants to come home and watch TV or play video games with the kids. He will not ask his family to babysit. He has mentioned that one of his co-workers has a teenaged daughter that babysits, but has never made any arrangements. I could probably find a babysitter on my own, and I could probably drag him out, but it just makes me sad that he's not interested.

Our oldest child is in school, and I have enrolled the youngest one in a preschool a few mornings a week, just to get a little bit of a break.

Obviously, he feels like he gets his share of time away -- trying new restaurants, seeing new sights -- through his business contacts and travels. Meanwhile, as a work-at-home mom with no family in the area, I am going slightly crazy. I am also very hurt and sad that my husband does not seem to want to spend time with me.

My husband tells me that I don't appreciate how hard he works, or the challenges he deals with on a day-to-day basis.

Since we have moved, we've gone out once, for our anniversary. My parents volunteered to make the day-long drive and stay the weekend so we could go out.

Help me break out of this sad rut. Should I just orchestrate date nights with myself -- is that OK? It makes my husband irritated with I suggest this, but I wouldn't mind just going out alone. Or should I just arrange a date night for both of us anyway, knowing that he likely won't enjoy it? What else should I do?

Note: I do go out with my girlfriends about once a month, so there's that at least.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
He has mentioned that one of his co-workers has a teenaged daughter that babysits, but has never made any arrangements. I could probably find a babysitter on my own, and I could probably drag him out, but it just makes me sad that he's not interested.

You and him have very different experiences with "home." He isn't there enough, you're there too much. What's not clear is that you've communicated this to him - have you said "Honey, I really wish we had date nights more often - let's find a sitter?"

Yes, it might be ideal if you and him were on exactly the same wavelength about everything without having to even talk about it. But grownups communicate, and couples compromise, and you talk a lot here about how you're feeling (hurt, frustrated, sad) but barely at all about how you communicate this to your husband.
posted by Tomorrowful at 2:51 PM on May 28, 2013


60+ hours a week is exhausting. You shouldn't take his desire for a few hours at home with your children as a personal affront.
posted by ewiar at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's quite possible that working 60+ hours a week leaves him mentally exhausted such that while he might be perfectly happy to go out to dinner or whatever with you, he doesn't have the mental reserves to orchestrate it. Has he actually said he doesn't want to go out or are you assuming it because he doesn't arrange things? Because it sounds like the latter.

If you want to go out, find a babysitter and tell him where you want to go to dinner or whatever. My guess is he'd be glad to go out he just doesn't want to have to "work" to make it happen because he's doing 12 hour days already.
posted by Justinian at 2:54 PM on May 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


In amongst the commitments of work and family, important things that should be taken seriously, your husband needs to remember that your relationship, as partners, lovers and friends, matters. You are the person with whom he elected to spend his life, and maintaining that relationship takes work, consideration and time. You seem supportive and understanding, and you also seem like you are not having real needs met, not just as an individual, but as a partner in a relationship.

Until your partner communicates with you effectively enough to understand and better consider your emotional needs, I think this situation is going to be very difficult to resolve. You might well benefit from spending more time with other people, or doing things that you enjoy alone (and by all means do that, please), but it sounds to me like your relationship, right at this minute, is in need of your husband remembering exactly what a big, important and hopefully wonderful thing he has committed to.

You need to talk to him and explain, in language as clear, compassionate and effective as that you have used here, that he has to start placing a higher priority on his responsibilities to your relationship and to you.
posted by howfar at 2:57 PM on May 28, 2013 [37 favorites]


He will not ask his family to babysit.

They are your family now too, and they are your children's family for sure. He doesn't have to ask, you can. Babysitting is a great opportunity for your children's extended family to be involved in their lives.

I am also very hurt and sad that my husband does not seem to want to spend time with me.

This is a separate issue from your needing a break from the kids. Both are important but don't conflate them.

My husband tells me that I don't appreciate how hard he works, or the challenges he deals with on a day-to-day basis.

He's not including you in his life. He needs to do that. He's also not appreciating your work and your challenges. This is something marriage counselors see every day.

Should I just orchestrate date nights with myself -- is that OK?

Absolutely, it's ok. You need and deserve time to yourself. But don't settle. If it's a social life with your husband that you want, don't settle for going to the movies alone (not that there's anything wrong with going to the movies alone).
posted by headnsouth at 3:01 PM on May 28, 2013 [15 favorites]


My husband tells me that I don't appreciate how hard he works, or the challenges he deals with on a day-to-day basis.

He also doesn't seem to appreciate your needs or how challenging this move has been for you. You've moved to a place where you're isolated and away from your support network. You're in charge of childcare while he works very long days and travels. I appreciate that he needs downtime, but he also needs to make sure that you're getting a minimum of your needs met. If that means a date night once or twice a month, I don't think that's excessive.

Having a challenging career is not an excuse to minimize the emotional needs of your partner.

Additionally, maybe you can look into part-time childcare so that you have time to devote to your own work projects and creating ties to your new community. Being so isolated socially and emotionally isn't good for your long-term happiness.
posted by quince at 3:01 PM on May 28, 2013 [21 favorites]


You need to tell him that since you moved, you no longer get a break. You need 10 hours a week outside the home. He can watch the kids, his parents can watch the kids, or he can hire a sitter. However, this time outside the home is necessary for you. You're thrilled if he wants to join you, but it okay if he wants to stay home too.

The thing is you need to tell him explicitly.. Don't hope he susses it out and then be miserable if he doesn't.
posted by 26.2 at 3:03 PM on May 28, 2013 [25 favorites]


You have two issues.. The first is that you need to connect with you husband as lovers regularly. He doesn't get a buy on that.

Find a hobby, club or place to be just for yourself. Join a gym, a knitting circle or anything else that sounds interesting. See if you can get a family member to watch the kids or maybe do a swap with a neighbor or family member.

I recommend couples counseling because 'no' isn't the answer to, "Sweetie, I want to spend time alone with you."
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:08 PM on May 28, 2013 [13 favorites]


as a work-at-home mom with no family in the area, I am going slightly crazy. I am also very hurt and sad that my husband does not seem to want to spend time with me...

how hard he works, or the challenges he deals with on a day-to-day basis.


These are three separate problems. First is the fact that you're feeling unfulfilled in your life. The second is that your relationship seems to be suffering. And the third is your husband's work stress. I think you need to deal with each of these problems separately.

First, yes, for your own sanity and health, you should start planning more of your own activities. If your husband wants to stay home and watch TV or play video games with the kids, I think that's awesome; I bet they'd love to spend some time with their dad, just like they get to spend a lot of time with you. Sign up for a class, join a gym, make plans with your friends. Not every night, but once or twice a week in the evenings or on the weekends. You work full-time too, just as hard and for just as many hours as he does, and you deserve time to veg out and do your own thing just as much as he does.

Second, your relationship with your husband seems to be suffering. Separate and apart from you needing time to yourself, you need time with him in order for your relationship to flourish. Have you told him that you miss him, that you miss spending time with the person you love most in the world and doing fun things together and having long conversations? If you haven't, tell him that, and work together to figure out how to nourish your relationship. If you have, and he has dismissed those needs because he's stressed out or tired, then I think you have a much bigger problem. I think you need to insist on this, and you should consider counseling if he still refuses.

Third is his stress. Working 60+ hours a week, and having to be "on" all the time can be exhausting. He needs to figure out what he needs to do to deal with his own stress. That may mean that he needs a hobby or some kind of outlet, or maybe that this dream job isn't actually the right dream for your family.

The bottom line is that you and your husband are both adults with emotional needs, and you're also a part of a family that has needs as well. Each of you needs to feel fulfilled and happy and respected in your individual lives, and you also need to do what it takes to keep your relationships with one another close and loving and happy. And those are different things, and sometimes there are trade-offs. You can't ignore any one member of the family or the family structure as a whole if your family is going to thrive.
posted by decathecting at 3:10 PM on May 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


You seem suspended.
He seems unstoppable.
You are bringing the problem to his feet and asking him to solve it.
He doesn't want yet another role of leadership.
Sounds like you've convinced yourself you're helpless.
You have all the power in the world but you need to take that 1st step.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:11 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Should I just orchestrate date nights with myself -- is that OK? It makes my husband irritated with I suggest this, but I wouldn't mind just going out alone.

Hell yes. And not in a cranky resentful way, in a "I have a nice opportunity to do something nice for myself" way. My approach would be something like:

"Honey, there's a book reading at Town Books on Thursday. Do you want me to get a sitter so you can come, or do you want the kids?"

"Bye honey, I'll see you after the reading and I may get a bite to eat. Do you want me to bring you a Super Awesome Muffin from the bakery next door?"

Be gracious, be cheerful, but by God go do things by and for yourself.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:14 PM on May 28, 2013 [39 favorites]


Maybe a start, to help get out of the rut, could be adding something to your schedule like a weekly yoga/meditation/swimming/etc. class that would give you a break and teach you something new or improve old skills, but isn't expected to be a couples/date activity? (Not the only change to your schedule, just an uncontroversial type of change.)
posted by dreamyshade at 3:31 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry; this sounds very painful. Time away for yourself is necessary for your sanity, as a separate issue. For time with your husband, can you take the kids to your parents for a weekend, or arrange a sitter to have them overnight (or at least late) at a location that is not your home? Then at least you could have a good pizza delivered, open a bottle of wine, and have some time with him alone. (Not a permanent solution, but it's a start and may help break this pattern.)

Good luck to you.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 3:32 PM on May 28, 2013


My husband always says a good compromise is when no one is completely happy:) he wants to stay in because he's tired, you want a date night out. Can you compromise by ordering a fancy meal in or having a date night picnic in the back yard and having a sitter come over and occupy the kids or take them out to chucked cheese/ice cream/movie etc.?
posted by bananafish at 3:38 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


K, your husband is being a shitty husband right now and needs to know it. Yes, it's great that he has a job he loves and excels at. Yes, it's hard to work a 60+ hour workweek in order to bring home the bacon.

But he is being a dick to you and his reponsibilities as a husband and partner, and that is not okay under any circumstanes. I would personally sit him down and say, "I love you and am very proud of you for all the work that you do at your job and as a father. However, right now you are not doing your part as a husband to ME, and I feel very hurt and ignored by you, particularly because I also work a very long week as a stay at home mom but don't get nearly the number of fun nights out that you do. I miss you, I miss spending time with you, and I miss having some free time to myself. Something's gotta give or our marriage is going to tank. Are you prepared to figure out some solutions with me right now? Please get in the space to do so because I will not allow either of us to go to bed or to work until we come to an agreement as husband and wife."
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:39 PM on May 28, 2013 [22 favorites]


Boo, this is not good (I'm just going to be blunt and opinionated here). He's not looking after your needs, and he's apparently not looking after the kids' needs either because he's watching TV instead of spending time with them (it's questionable whether playing video games with kids is "quality" time) even though he's away from home so often. In a word, this sounds selfish. Don't accept it, you and your kids deserve better. It sounds like he's married to his job and is not putting family first. He's probably going to regret it someday. Try to help him not let that happen by insisting on more quality family time. Your dismay is totally warranted. You sound like a mild-mannered person and I am guessing he's taking advantage of that.
posted by Dansaman at 3:40 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


Oh man I feel ya. But as far as asking whether you should be planning dates yourself? Absolutely. Yes. The fact is ... he's drained and overwhelmed, and while your needs (both for alone time and couple time) are completely valid, presenting it negatively is going to feel like one more task for him to do and thing for him to be responsible for. Take responsibility for it yourself. Make a plan, then before finalizing the details, just ask him "hey, I found X restaurant I would really like to try, they have Y food you like... Z relative says she's available to babysit, if I tell her ok would you go with me?" If he doesn't respond well to that, or continues to blow you off for less-than-seriously-serious reasons, then y'all need a marriage counselor and stat. (You probably do anyway, but still, try this.)
posted by celtalitha at 3:40 PM on May 28, 2013


I will not allow either of us to go to bed or to work until we come to an agreement as husband and wife.

I really liked the rest of this comment, but this last part is a waaaaay bad idea and seriously boundary-violating. I've done/said such things in my more anxious days and it's a very bad idea. Talk when you both have free time, not when someone is likely to be pissed off and needing to go to sleep or leave for a business trip in an hour.
posted by celtalitha at 3:42 PM on May 28, 2013 [12 favorites]


Totally fair, that was a knee-jerk addition on my part. Sorry about that.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:56 PM on May 28, 2013 [5 favorites]


I haven't read all of the answers yet, but it's 100% ok for you to go out and do things on your own, without your husband, just to get a break from the kids and the house.

In middle school, I babysat for one of the neighborhood families in a situation like this. Dad needed home time to chill, mom needed time to be herself. I came over and hung out with the kids while the dad did whatever (slept, watched TV, worked in his office, etc) and the mom went out to do whatever (run errands, meet her friends for drinks, take a pottery class, etc).

I think an arrangement like that might accomplish at least a few of the things you both are looking for.
posted by phunniemee at 3:57 PM on May 28, 2013


He's spending a significant portion of his life out of the house working very, very hard. He occasionally wants a break from that, and wants to spend that break at home, doing the at-home things he likes and feels he has energy for.

You're spending a significant portion of your life in the house working very, very hard. You occasionally want a break from that, and want to spend that break out of the house, doing the outside things you like and feel you have energy for.

See the problem? With the current arrangement, you have a specific and conflicting need, so if one of you requires the other to participate in their break, you're actually making the other person's need for a break even stronger.

Here's how you fix it: you get a babysitter and go out with your friends regularly when he's still at work.. That's it. You get your outside time in a way that doesn't eat away at his home time, and he gets home time with you as well as his kids.

Would it be better if he had the desire to go out more? Sure, just like it would be better from his perspective if you had the desire to stay home more. But you don't, and neither does he...and frankly, you can schedule a babysitter whenever you want (subject to their availability), but he has to work the hours he has to work, so it makes sense for you to schedule the babysitters and go have a social life without him while he's working.
posted by davejay at 4:08 PM on May 28, 2013 [9 favorites]


If you have, and he has dismissed those needs because he's stressed out or tired, then I think you have a much bigger problem.

I have to agree. And I'm not sure he sees it as a problem either.

Is your husband someone that thinks being a husband is more than living in the same house, having sex, sharing responsibilities and taking care of kids together? Does he help you, do thoughtful things for you, concerns himself with how you feel, show that he cares about you as his wife and friend? Or is his idea more like he works hard and brings home money and helps with the kids and you should be grateful for that?
posted by discopolo at 4:36 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


You should consider getting a regular part-time job.
posted by yarly at 4:52 PM on May 28, 2013 [3 favorites]


You absolutely should orchestrate your own time away, doing things you enjoy, on your own. You don't need permission to do that, do you? It's really important for you to have your own interests and activities and for you to cultivate your own identity. Do it! You'll feel better about yourself! Get a babysitter a couple times a month and find some stuff that makes you happy, outside of your family and your relationship with your husband.

I don't think it's really fair for people to respond that your husband is exhausted and deserves to be left alone after his 60+ hours of work,. First, it sounds like a lot of that (golf, dinners, etc) isn't exactly taxing and more importantly, none of that takes away his responsibility to be a part of your life as a family. He loves his job and seems to love all the extra activity that it entails. He's got everything he wants, it sounds like. You need to get there, too.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:00 PM on May 28, 2013 [4 favorites]


I don't think it's really fair for people to respond that your husband is exhausted and deserves to be left alone after his 60+ hours of work,.

It's interesting to me that women always have to do all the making a relationship better and then when a husband is neglectful of her emotional needs, he gets a free pass. But if she ends up no longer wanting to sleep with him (because it's hard to be attracted to someone who doesnt care about you), then she's breaking a deal or being difficult/not meeting basic needs.

It's not hard for him to just sit through a movie with you at the cinema, doze off of he must. You just want to know he loves you, cares about you. I do think you should get out of the house on your own to do stuff, but he really is creating a situation that hurts you and the relationship. I wouldn't be surprised if you found yourself suddenly in love with someone else who shows they care about how you feel. Your husband should really consider that because the situation is going to get fragile if this continues and your needs aren't met. But unless he really cares about you/understands that there are consequences, he probably won't get made to understand that until it is too late, no matter what you try to do.
posted by discopolo at 5:10 PM on May 28, 2013 [22 favorites]


Been there, done that, it sucks. And I had three preschoolers to boot.

First, your kids won't be this little forever. That will make things a tad easier.

Second, you are doing the right thing by getting some break time during the day. Don't feel guilty for this, you need it.

Third, start finding some childcare on your own-maybe get the number of that teenage girl, or ask some of your girlfriends. Test it out on a few evenings out by yourself.

Then sit down with your husband and tell him that you plan to plan two dates a month out with him, and he needs to check his calendar and let you know THEN what are good times. And that you are also going to plan two at-home dates with him after the kids go to bed. (alternating weeks, natch.)

If he balks at this head straight to a marriage counselor and go by yourself at first if he won't go with you. Reason being that to let this resentment and disconnect fester is gonna be very toxic to your family.

Meanwhile, do try to make his time at home with you pleasant. I realize that sounds a little unfair but you don't want him thinking "bitchy wife at home" and comparing you to his work peeps. Yes, that sounds throwback as heck but I'm just trying to be practical here.

I'm betting if you do the legwork with the childcare and the date thing he will start to realize he enjoys it. Truth is, he really probably IS exhausted with all the work outside and needs home to be a haven, but YOU are exhausted with YOUR 24 hour a day job of little kids and this isn't unreasonable.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 5:50 PM on May 28, 2013 [6 favorites]


Get the number of the co-worker who has a teenager who babysits. Find other babysitters. Make plans to go out every couple of weeks, even if it's just for a drink. Dress up a little, and have some grown-up time together. Minimum date time of once a month. Plus, get out with the kids, family outings to parks, kid-friendly restaurants, etc.

During the day, find adult ed or other courses. Find or start a playgroup. You need to spend time with people who use big words and sentences. Maybe even do some volunteering. If you have the energy, start a babysitting co-op - great way to organize babysitters, and great way to make new friends.

None of this is about your appreciation of his work and his effort. I'll bet you love his commitment to being a dad. But you need a community of people in your life - friends, maybe his family, other parents. Wouldn't hurt to tell him that you miss spending time with just him.
posted by theora55 at 5:59 PM on May 28, 2013


My spouse and I have a hard time scheduling dates, even though we both would like to go on them, but we do - about every other month. In addition, each of us has a "night off" scheduled and on the same day every week (Mrs. Plinth on Mondays, me on Wednesdays). It doesn't matter what we do (if anything). It's down time and it's important.

We do this by talking about it and negotiating.
posted by plinth at 6:10 PM on May 28, 2013


Nthing the idea that this might be easier for your hubby if you did all the planning and arrangements, so going out didn't mean more decisions/discussions for him. That would help me in this scenario. Worth a try.
posted by mattu at 6:21 PM on May 28, 2013


One thing I haven't seen mentioned is that, at least in my experience, spouses and partners are often present at quasi-professional social events. That in turn leads to out-of-office relationships among spouses/partners. If your husband isn't encouraging/supporting relationships with you and his family, and he's not bringing you along at work events, and he's not going out with you socially outside of work, then you're not sharing your lives at all. His life is all outside and your life is all inside. That's not healthy for you or for your relationship.
posted by headnsouth at 6:51 PM on May 28, 2013 [10 favorites]


Can you find someone to watch the kids from 10:30 to 2:00 and schedule lunch dates with him?

Tell him something like: "You have an extremely important client that would like to meet with you at 11:15 every other Tuesday at the park for a private lunch"

Meet at a secluded public park, walk down the lesser-traveled trail, and hey, no one's looking, and it'll just be a little kiss...

Put some spice in your relationship, get some lunchtime makeout action STAT.
posted by Annika Cicada at 7:20 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


This could be me! I so relate to you, so I'll share my solutions. We moved to my husband's hometown when he got an (excellent) job. His family is here and he's familiar with the area, loves his job, is comfortable. It was a challenge for me as a SAHM to adjust to all this. Here's what we did:
I now take two nights a week "off" and some time on the weekend. My husband suggested this, both as a way to predict the time I need for myself and as a way for him to do some solo caregiving for our kids.
We have a date night once a week. We've done this since our first was little and we lived near no family. Found reliable sitters through Care.com. I do all of the planning for dates, which I sometimes get tired of, but works for us. Perhaps this could be an option for you, if not every week, then sometimes?
My husband initiated a babysitting relationship with his family at first. Now I ask, but it was nice for me that he was willing to take the first steps.
Feel free to PM me.
posted by percor at 7:33 PM on May 28, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just want to reiterate what headnsouth wrote:
They are your family now too, and they are your children's family for sure. He doesn't have to ask, you can. Babysitting is a great opportunity for your children's extended family to be involved in their lives.
If you've moved to a place where your in-laws live, and they're not toxic or incompetent, reach out to them. They're your kids' grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins, etc., and most likely they want to be more involved with your family. If your husband has always mediated contact with them, they might be thrilled to have more direct involvement with you and your kids, and it could be a big relief to you.
posted by brianogilvie at 7:55 PM on May 28, 2013


Such good answers above. Minor addition: you moved eight months ago? I moved a lot as a kid, and the 8-9 month mark was often hard. Maybe one of your regular nights out could be something social, like square dancing lessons or knitting circle or volunteering, something that's not you alone (unless you want time alone). That way, it won't be you going on a date alone, but you going to that winetasting class you've always wanted to take, where you hang out with all those fun classmates.
posted by salvia at 10:58 PM on May 28, 2013


howfar speaks TRUTH:

"your husband needs to remember that your relationship, as partners, lovers and friends, matters"

This is what killed my marriage of 20+ years.
posted by The Blue Olly at 6:31 AM on May 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


However, if he's 100% of your adult social life, that IS kind of draining. I really really 2nd the folks suggesting you join a book group or the gym or something. Having some other friends, or even acquaintances, will take the weight off of him.

I wouldn't even view this as luxury, any more than taking vitamins is a "luxury".

Anecdata: All but one of my friends who have kids have taken part time (+/-20 hour/week) jobs. It's not financially sensible but it keeps them sane.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:02 PM on May 29, 2013


I want to slap whoever invented the term "date night." It's a terrible idea. Compulsory romance just doesn't work and causes pressure and stress and fights.

So... yes, absolutely take yourself out on dates. If you hear about a restaurant or movie you want to go to, make sure there's a babysitter and go. Maybe your husband would like to join you, maybe he'll be busy. See if any friends want to go, but if they don't just go by yourself.

Please please please don't feel like you have to have "date nights." If you both are in the mood to go out, awesome! But if one of you isn't, that doesn't have to mean the other person stays home. You can have separate social lives without that meaning you're awful people who are about to get divorced, but just because you have different desires.

He might even like a little quiet time at home alone after the kids are in bed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:13 PM on May 29, 2013


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