Do as search for “date night” and you will get articles on date night ideas and places to go for a date. It looks like good information, but for many of the couples I work with it’s too advanced. We have to start with the Why of date night.
Most of us think of going on a date and having fun as a luxury. It’s something we do once all the important stuff is done. The trouble is, the important stuff never gets done; there is always more.
Besides, dating your spouse IS one of the important things.
“When was the last time you went on a date?” is a question I routinely ask couples in marriage counseling. I think it’s a reasonable question to ask. Unfortunately, the most common answer I hear is “we don’t remember”.
The purpose of a regular date night is to have fun, reinvigorate your relationship, and remember why you got together in the first place.
As far as I know, you guy ever got down on one knee, looked his girlfriend deep in her eyes, and said, “I want to spend the rest of my life working on issues with you.”
We got married because we enjoyed one another, had fun together, and couldn’t imagine being apart from the other. Discussing problems and resolving conflicts may be a necessary part of a relationship but it is not why we married in the first place.
Some couples have a hard time with the question. They’re not sure what a date is. Attending a child’s ball game is not a date. Grocery shopping together is not a date. Dinner out might be a date or it might not. Let me define the characteristics of a date.
A date is:
Just the two of you
No other agenda
No discussion of problems
The sole purpose is to have fun
Just the two of you. I love doing things with my family and friends. Family time is important even if your children are grown and have kids of their own. But it’s not a date. A date is doing the things you enjoy or trying something new together. A date is reminiscing about good times or creating new memories. Dates are for being a little silly or a little adventurous. Dates are for long comfortable silences or for dreaming about the future. Dates are for fun. You can’t do that in a crowd.
No other agenda. Like you, my life gets busy. There are some days where running errands together is the only time my wife and I will see each other that day. Spending time together is important and I’m not going to give up running errands with her. But it’s not a date.
No discussion of problems. Too many dates are ruined because one partner of the other believes they have a captive audience. If date night is the only time you have alone together then I understand the temptation to discuss issues and attempt to solve problems. If you fight every time you try to go on a date, then after a while date night becomes something to avoid. I understand why you don’t remember the last time you had a date.
The solution is to have a separate night for discussion of problems. Having a regular time to discuss issues allows you to relax and enjoy the date. Neither of you feels the need to “strike while the iron is hot” or to take advantage of your captive audience. The reverse is also true: it’s easier to get through a difficult discussion if you know you’re going to fun in a few days.
The sole purpose is to have fun. Dates are small exercises in remembering the exciting days of courtship. Dates are shared experiences designed to keep us from drifting away from each other.
Remember why you got married in the first place. Make a commitment for dating to be one of the important things.