To help your marriage grow stronger and be filled with more enjoyment, couples need to have a regular date night. By regular, we don’t mean once a year, not even just once a month. We’re suggesting once a week. This has been our practice throughout our married life. Our date night most often is on a Friday night. It has been our salvation.
It’s getting national attention
We’re not alone in recognizing the value of having a date night. According to W. Bradford Wilcox and Jeffrey Dew, in what was known as theNational Marriage Project, “In the last year, a range of civic, corporate and religious organizations have launched date-night initiatives in towns and cities across the nation. From the Date Night Challenge in Palm Beach to Yelp’s Date Night Chicago to the Great Date Night in Chattanooga, these grassroots efforts represent a major new effort to improve the quality and stability of marriages and other romantic relationships in communities across the nation.”
Their research for the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia shows that date nights can strengthen your marriage in a number of ways; one being improved communication. “By removing distractions such as children and employment responsibilities, date nights afford couples the opportunity to discuss things that are important to them — from their shared dreams for the future to the state of their family finances.” Think about it. How easy is it to engage in deep conversation about your hopes and dreams with kids running around the house?
They also point out that a date night keeps the element of novelty in your marriage. They explain that couples can easily fall into a rut and begin taking each other for granted. “By contrast, a growing body of research suggests that couples who engage in novel activities that are fun, active, or otherwise arousing — from hiking to dancing to travel to card games — enjoy higher levels of relationship quality.”
The study also showed that feelings of romantic love can be enriched by these date nights. Commitment to each other, they say, is also strengthened. Finally, the study showed that dating each other is a great stress eliminator. All good reasons for keeping the courting happening in your marriage.
When our five kids were still at home, our respite was that weekly anticipated date night. During the early years of our parenting, we were struggling financially to make ends meet. That didn’t stop us. We found that going out for an ice cream cone can be a really fun cheap date. What matters is that you are together without the kids. So we didn’t spend much on a sitter we would keep it short. Even just an hour to ourselves was a big help. Whenever we could afford it, we extended it to include longer fun activities we both enjoyed.
Date nights can include a variety of choices. Here are a few ideas to consider.
1. Dinner out at your favorite restaurant
Be sensitive to your mate’s likes. If your husband likes a juicy steak, make that dream come true sometimes. If your wife likes Italian fare, make that dream come true sometimes. Or, find a restaurant that serves both so each can choose, and just have fun enjoying each other’s company and a meal you didn’t have to cook yourselves. At times, it’s fun to invite another couple along. Just make sure the kids aren’t included. This is adults’ night out.
2. A concert featuring performers you both enjoy
Sometimes it’s fun to save up and go to a celebrity’s concert. But you don’t have to wait for that. Especially if you live in a college town. They are always doing performances of one type or another. These can be a lot of fun, too, and not near as pricey. Most communities have musical events or plays that are really quite good. Remember, most of the famous performers began at such events. You might even see a future Celine Dion or Brad Pitt, and you can say, “We saw her/him at the beginning when ...”
3. Movies with a treat after
Sometimes after a movie, stop by an ice cream shop and dig into a dish of ice cream or gelato. As for the movies, trade off going to each other’s favorite kind — a little adventure never hurt anyone and a little romance can do a lot of good. Try them both.
4. Go for a walk together
. Find a place you both enjoy, hold hands as you walk, and talk about your hopes and dreams. Sometimes you can even take a little picnic to enjoy in a park along the way. We have a brother and his wife in San Diego who do this along the beach regularly. They have told us about some of the most beautiful sunsets they’ve ever seen. Take a picture to capture the moment. Or turn that walk into a hike up your favorite mountainside. Just do what you both enjoy doing.
You can think of many things once you put your mind to it. Dates don’t have to be fancy they just need to be. It has been said that “a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” Date nights can help make that happen.