According to the experts, when you have children regular date nights with your partner are the key to a successful relationship.
Forget communication, mutual love and respect or not marrying a dick; apparently the secret to a happy and healthy relationship is to go on a date. At flipping night.
But according to me (expert on nothing) this is rubbish. Here is why:
1. A 'date' suggests wearing something other than pyjamas. 'Night' suggests leaving the house post 7pm. With a baby keeping me awakeevery night I struggle not to pass out by dinner time. Therefore, the suggestion of a 'date night' fills me with dread even before I have left the house.
2. If you have children the chances are money is tight. Many of us just haven't the disposable income to go on regular nights out - unless your idea of a hot date is to go all freegan around the back of Sainsbury's.
3. Can you even have a 'date' when you are in a long-term relationship? Isn't the point of dating about getting to know someone - a chance to find out that you have the same fourth favourite film or both once went to the same BP garage on the A45? Isn't it an opportunity to say things like 'We are like, so soul mates,' when you notice you are both wearing shoes. Surely, once you are married or living together, it's not a date. It's just going out on your own.
4. You will eventually give in and go on the date and regret it. All the parenting articles in your Facebook newsfeed finally manage to brainwash you into thinking the only way to avoid a break up is to go on a date. So you bite the bullet and book the table. You are so tired you can barely get your shoes on, but you go out anyway. And... you are home by 8.30pm, £50 worse off and feeling more tired than ever.
5) The actual date night.
You have exactly four hours to be romantic, laugh, have fun, eat, drink some wine (but not too much as you still have to go home and tend to babies all night), have some sparkling conversation and, if you really, really care about your marriage, try to fit in a quickie on the way home. You must NOT discuss how tired you are and, under no circumstances, are you permitted to talk about the children, think about the children or look at pictures of the children on your phone. This is NOT what people on dates do.
6. The pressure is on. For some reason the pressure of knowing 'this is our one and only chance to enjoy a romantic date and save our relationship from impending doom' leaves you unable to think of anything interesting or funny to say.
Chances are you will end up with a conversation like this:
HER: So how was work?
HIM: Oh you know busy. That new project... bla bla spreadsheets... bla bla meeting... bla bla... network... bla bla... pricing.
HER: Oh sounds great.
HIM: How was your day?
HER: Errrr... well, I lost my phone today. But I found it. It was actually in my pocket the whole time.
HIM: Oh no. Ha ha. How were the kids?
HER: I thought we weren't talking about the kids? We are on bloody date night. Tell me more about that spreadsheet thingy?
HIM: You want to talk about spreadsheets on a date?
HER: Fair point.
Silence while we both struggle to think of some date-worthy conversation.
HER: Sod it...do you want to see a funny film of the toddler singing about cheese?
HIM: I thought you would never ask.
7) The date might go well. In which case, you could end up with a hangover - or another baby on the way.
Read more tales of tiredness and sleep-deprived parenting at www.emilyjaneclark.wordpress.com.