Last Updated on March 21, 2018

It was time: My husband and I took a night away just before the new year. We needed to pray, to plan, to think—both alone and together. We needed to reevaluate and gather vision for so many things—in parenting, in our work here in Uganda, in our relationships, in our marriage. I found myself wishing it’d last more than a day.

Over dinner one night—tilapia for me, a burger for him—we talked about us. This past year has been remarkable for the two of us as a team. Seeing my husband in this place, seeing his generosity and care for people and courage, has grown my respect and admiration in ways that are breathtaking for me (excuse the gushing).

But being here has, for obvious reasons, increased our stress, too. And we relax in very different ways. Evenings often find us parting to our quiet spaces after the kids hit the sack, hoping for a little peace before it all starts again the next day. Kampala is not a particularly easy city for two mzungus (foreigners) to chill. Sometimes we find ourselves coiled so tightly that unwinding takes elaborate strategy.

But the rejuvenation we craved was sapping some of our only moments of the day for communication and quality time. As newlyweds, we’d been great at “playing” together—throwing around a football, jogging together, going for a late-night ice cream run, and other things young couples do when they aren’t toast from parenting four kids. Now, we slump across the table from each other in the daze accumulated from homeschooling, cross-cultural stress, and stuff that makes most of us parents wish the kids could put us to bed at 8 p.m.

So there at dinner, the two of us concocted a simple, doable plan of action. It looked something like this:

• “Back porch time” together in the early evening around dinner—just ten minutes or so to reconnect.
• Every Thursday after the kids go to bed would be our date in. We’d play a game together or something else we’d cooked up, and read some of a chapter book we picked out together.

The great part? When we got home from our night out, it didn’t take two days for my husband to ask for a date night in. It wasn’t even Thursday! We had a blast sitting on the bed in our PJ’s, laughing and slapping down Nertz cards together—I won—then cuddling together around the newest Grisham book on our e-reader. Two nights later, we did a repeat. Well, except he won. We’re on chapter 13 now, and the score’s three to one (him).

The kicker? Yesterday, my husband told his friend that he thought our marriage was doing better than ever. (We both won!)

What’s your hang-out plan for 2013?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


    1. Thanks, Jenn! You are always so encouraging.

  1. Janel, I love this idea! I can’t tell you how many times the kids have been in bed and I look up from my spot on the couch (his spot is on the other couch because he crowds and I think what are we doing? He might be on his iPhone and I might be on my e-reader and I think this is nuts!! I am going to suggest this!

  2. I totally resemble, er, resonate, Heather :). Hope it works for you guys!

  3. Thanks for sharing this great post! Simple but so important!! I’m inspired to make a plan with my husband!

    1. Super. So thankful, Iris.

  4. Melissa Hutsell says:

    Love this idea. Must admit that with teenagers this is very hard. they patiently wait while younger brothers sap all the energy in the house and finally make it to bedtime. They wait for their daddy’s time. They know he is a night owl. 🙂 But, me, I am waiting on BEDTIME..I am NOT a night owl and I am TIRED. SO, he goes his way to bond with teenage boys (very necessary) and I go my way to sleep. I think if we were intentional and said “_____ night is our night alone”…well, that would be great! Just might implement that! Because even though we make effort to get out of the house once a week or so, well…there are just some things that can only happen inside the home…if you know what I mean! 🙂 Thanks for the idea!

    1. This is SO funny, Melissa, and so true :). Glad you see your need for your boys to do the man thing. Hope it works to set aside a night! I’m just excited to get mine home from traveling…!

      1. Loved the idea too 🙂 In response to Melissa’s issue with the night owl and morning glory problem my husband and I faced the same thing (minus the teenage kids – we have 4 under the age of 10). We found that sandwich Saturday (or Sunday) was the charm. We served sandwiches and chopped veggies on a buffet then excused ourselves for mom and dad time while letting the kids watch an old favorite on DVD. They also ge treats like chips or cookies or popcorn after a healthy lunch to make their movie time special as well. We all enjoy Sandwich Sunday at our house and the kids really appreciate and respect our space (took some training but has been well worth the effort).

        1. Love this idea, Melinda–and so practical. Thanks for posting.