How often do you and your significant other enjoy a true “Date Night”? I’m not talking about a night of sitting on the couch watching a movie. I’m talking about a real, honest to goodness, get dressed and put-on-makeup kind of date. The concept of “dating” is not just for teens, single people, or new relationships. It turns out that dating during marriage and long-term relationships is incredibly important for strengthening the partnership. See how that one date night can truly make a difference.
The National Marriage Project conducted at the University of Virginia showed improvements for married couples who go on frequent dates across categories such as happiness, commitment, communication, parenthood stability, and community integration. Not only were divorce rates found to be lower among married couples who devote time to each other at least once a week, but the perceived quality of the marriage is higher as well.
An article about the study highlights five reasons why date nights have strong correlations to healthy marriages: they provide opportunities for communication, novelty, eros (aka. “The Spark”), strengthening commitment, and de-stressing.
Think about all the distractions we have in our home: computers dinging with new emails to be checked; laundry begging to be folded; that pile of bills mocking to be paid. And that doesn’t include if your household includes little people who call you “Mom” and “Dad”. Getting away from these distractions just for a few hours can help reset the mind and bring more focus to your relationship and each other.
- Make it an Activity: Dinner and a movie is not only a snoozefest of a date night, but you’re being counterproductive if you’re putting yourselves in a situation where you can’t talk. Try these options for a more active and intimate time together:
- Visit the local wine store for an impromptu wine tasting
- Spend time in the daytime by going for a walk, hike, or bike ride
- Get a little culture visiting a local museum or historical site
- Pack up a picnic lunch and enjoy casually dining al fresco in a private spot. Don’t forget the wine!
- Take a long car ride – the destination isn’t important, but a great playlist is!
- Take a cooking class. Sure, you could do this at home. But a class not only will teach you something new, but the best part is NO CLEAN UP, so you just get to enjoy the fun parts of making a meal together.
- A Date IS NOT Multitasking Errands: You’ve probably heard this quote from Old School. A trip to the grocery store or Target is NOT a date. When you’re doing household chores and errands, you’re not completely detaching from your responsibilities at home, which is essentially the point of date night. Put the focus on each other once in awhile – it’s OK, I promise.
- Be Spontaneous: Some of the best date nights Mr E and I have had were completely haphazard. A few weeks ago, I was listening to the radio and heard a local venue advertising a Mini Kiss concert that night. I knew we had
nothing planned that day, so I asked Mr E if he’d be up for it. Tickets were purchased before I had even finished my morning tea. Social media has been a great tool over the years to lure us out of the house. We’ll see a delicious dinner special posted from a restaurant, or a whisky tasting, or bobblehead night at the minor league ballpark, and if we have nothing going on that night, then it’s on. Some days it’s better to just do than think. Your brain and relationship will thank you for the recharge.
- Create a Standing Date Night: Sometimes having a set date night on the calendar is the best way to ensure it happens. Reservations or tickets to an event helps to solidify the plan and prevent canceling at last minute. Remember, your significant other is just as important an obligation in your life as your job is, so don’t shirk on either. In the spring/summer, every other Thursday night is Date Night for Mr E and myself with tickets to the local minor league baseball team. Sitting on the grass, drinking $1 beers and watching the sun set over the ballpark can’t be beat. As soon as the schedule comes out for the season, those dates go on the calendar and are locked in.
- Make Date Night Your Tradition: Your relationship is your own unique culture, so let it grow and evolve. One tradition that has stuck with Me E and myself since the first summer we were dating is going out for local ice cream Sunday nights in the summer. A date doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to make it special. A walk on the beach at sunset is equally as special as a 6-course meal when it comes to a Date Night.
What are some of your favorite date nights? How do you make sure Date Night happens? Sound off in the Comments below.
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