Back in the 1960s, the only people who mattered in a marriage were the husband and wife. Children were something between decoration and staff. Today, that's almost completely flip-flopped, and we're currently in a state where absolutely everything revolves around our children, often to the detriment of our marriages.
Now, I'm not going to get into a debate about how you parent, or different parenting styles - you can make that choice - but from a financial aspect, the absolute worst thing you can do for your bottom line is to get divorced. You're splitting the assets of one household into two households, and typically the standard of living of both new households will be lower than it was for the previous household. Money only goes so far. The number one thing you can do is to make sure you have a healthy relationship with your spouse. Regardless of life and kids and careers, you have to maintain that relationship.
You may be thinking, "but Dave, with all the curve balls life throws, how do I do that?" I believe it's through proactively having a date night once a week. Of course there are lots of articles and experts talking about what, exactly, constitutes a date, and dates will change over the course of your relationship. When I was a kid in college with literally two nickels to my name, date night was bringing home a pizza from the place where I worked, with the favorite toppings of the girl I was dating at the time.
As college continued, I realized I needed to step up my game, so I started donating plasma at the donation center on Winchester Road (it's still there!). The $35 or so that I got from giving the gift of life would typically cover two unlimited salad and breadsticks dinners at Olive Garden, along with a little gas for the car and a few 50 cent PBRs and dollar Long Island iced teas (and lots of new friends!). And when I ran out of money but still wanted to relate to the college girls, I'd get really creative and take them on beautiful walks in the rain.
Eventually, date night needed to step up again as I got interested in one particular girl. I took a job at Pa's Convenience Store in Wilmore as a night clerk - yes, think the movie "Clerks" - and with my new lucrative $6 per hour wages (that was the big time in the 1990s) added to my pizza delivery money, I now had enough to go to Waffle House at the end of a fun night and drink coffee till the sun came up. I also had enough to go to the drive-in movie theater (remember those?) and the midnight UK Ice Cats hockey games.
I got married while still in college, and we had to continue being creative on date nights, because like all college kids, we had limited funds and school to pay for. Fast forward a couple of decades, and all sorts of date nights later: As I reflect back, I see that while we did continue those weekly outings, they stopped being just us, and it wasn't just because of the kids. There were many nights when we put the boys to bed and stayed up talking at home over fondue and wine, and I have many great memories of those nights.
What changed was, somehow, somewhere, we started including other people in our date nights, and without realizing what we were doing, they stopped being a check-up and check-in with each other, and instead became filled with group conversations, movies theaters (where you can't talk), then Blockbuster and Netflix, and those things kept us from furthering the relationship.
As we've all witnessed many times within our friends and family, I can attest through personal experience that the act of having a date night needs to be intentional, and it must be at a time when you and your significant other can converse and interact. It literally does not matter what activity you choose to do, whether it's something active like taking a walk, or simply sitting on the porch watching the sunset. Fancy steak dinners are still great, and if that's your thing, check out Tony's in Lexington
. But Lexington also offers many beautiful walking trails, outdoor events like Lakeside Live
or Moondance Amphitheater
. Anything can be a date night, as long as it's intentional time created just for the two of you.
Perhaps most importantly, both people in the relationship should share the responsibility of coming up with ideas, so it doesn't become stale or breed resentment. Plan and share the fun of picking a place or activity, even around work or travel schedules (FaceTime anyone?). If you're a CPA, maybe your spouse plans the spring dates and you take summer. If your job requires you to travel during the week, the spouse at home can plan Friday dates, and you can plan Sunday dates. You get the idea.
It's different for every couple of course, but as long as your date nights aren't stale, I'm betting your relationship won't be either.