We didn't prioritize it for two reasons: our homebody nature and cost. We generally like to stay home, eat the food we cook, and go to bed early. Our kids' bedtime is around seven, so that gives us a couple of kid-free hours to read, talk, play cards, or watch the latest John Oliver show. Beyond our general enjoyment for staying in, we (I) got hung up on expense. It was (is) hard for me to swallow the cost, especially when it is on top of another activity that requires money. The fact that we like staying home made it that much harder to justify financially.
Sometime this spring I decided that our lack of babysitter was a problem that needed to be solved. We don't need to go out on a weekly basis, but I wanted to be able to say yes if an opportunity presented itself. We now have two sitters who can and have watched the kids.
If my parents or in-laws lived in town I have no doubt we would get out more often. It would be a win-win situation: the kids and grandparents would get opportunities to develop their own relationship without us around and we would get to go out. Alas, we do not live near family, so a babysitter it is.
So far we've (1) gone to food truck Fridays, walked around IU's campus, and relaxed in the park by our house, (2) gone out to dinner for our anniversary, (3) met up with three other couples for dinner and a concert, and (4) walked to the park for a free concert.
Now that we have sitters we are trying to go out at least once a month so the kids remain familiar with them and vice versa. When planning dates we are prioritizing unique events around town or opportunities to deepen relationship with friends. (It is so nice to socialize with other adults when everyone is not simultaneously parenting!) In the coming months I want to see another concert in the park, go to a musical, check out some of the world-class music at IU, and get together with friends to play cards.
Has having regular date nights drastically changed the landscape of our marriage? Not at all. Am I glad we are doing it anyway? Yes. It may not be necessary, but every once in awhile it sure is nice to skip the bedtime routine, have an uninterrupted conversation, and come home to a quiet house.