We have recently made the move back to South Carolina after serving for seven years down in the middle of South America. We didn't expect it, we weren't prepared for it, and we are still reeling from how quickly it happened. Extended family situations made it very clear that we needed to be back in the US about the same time I felt God shifting things inside my heart, and it was undeniable that He was going ahead of us to lead the way for our big move.
We left the US for Paraguay back in 2008 with 9- and 11-year-old girls, smack in the middle of homeschooling and community basketball league and children's church. My husband had a secular job in addition to being the youth pastor at our local church, and I was the at-home mom taking side jobs and short-term mission trips. We had no idea what the words free time meant. Our best attempts at date nights often looked like a bad sit-com episode where the sitter calls about the kid running a fever about the time we place an order at the local fast-food joint on our way to a youth rally.
Fast forward a bit to our years in Paraguay, when our girls were going through adolescence and we were learning two languages, adjusting to all the cultural changes, building a ministry, going through major health challenges and a serious accident, and continuing to homeschool. Free time was still this elusive concept, and date nights were a movie and popcorn after sending the girls to their room early for the night.
And now here we are back in the states. One daughter has graduated high school and is in a gap year, and the younger one is a junior in high school. They are old enough and in a safe enough area that we don't have to be near them at all hours here. We have a car that cranks when we turn the key and can drive around without the feeling that we may, at any moment, die. My husband is still looking for a job, so we are seeing a lot of each other every day. The modern appliances and giant, all-inclusive stores have simplified daily activities to the point that I feel like I suddenly have that thing I'd only heard whispered about in certain circles and seen played out in movies and books--free time.
And it hit me that we are now in prime position to have what I've always dreamed date nights should be. We can go out, just the two of us. We can wear decent clothes that won't be ruined on public transportation. We can choose from a crazy-huge selection of restaurants or activities. We can stay out late. We can find time on the calendar that isn't covered in commitments. I struggle with feeling guilty over such indulgences, or enjoying the convenience and pure joy of these sorts of things because, well, it's just strange and rare and odd and weird and different and…
So as we adjust to all the negative aspects of re-entry, I have this little thought in the back of my mind that makes me giggle and feel a bit like a movie star--I get to date my husband again!
Have you found ways to date your spouse on the field? How has your typical date night evolved through the different stages of your marriage?