May is right around the corner and happens to be “Date your Mate” month. Most couples realize the importance of date night in their marriage; unfortunately, life gets in the way and couples push date nights to the side. Soon date nights become family nights with kids in tow and that’s not the sort of enriching date night that fosters the intimacy that marriage demands.
Most couples want more from their marriage – more connection, more closeness, and deep conversations. They want to feel special, desired, and in love with each other instead of just parents and partners. Research has proven time and time again that intimate relationships contribute to our mental and physical health. Intimacy can buffer us from life’s stressors, such as losing a job, having a child, or suffering from illness. In the same way, a lack of intimacy leads to more conflict, more emotional distress, and chronic health conditions.
Creating and scheduling date nights into your relationship can help protect the intimacy in your marriage. Below are suggestions for you to begin practicing this May.
- Look at your calendars and schedule date nights. It’s crucial to make dates a priority and put them on your calendar. At least one date night a month should be going out. The others can be done at home but plan them for times when you won’t be distracted by children, work, or devices.
- Take turns planning date nights and make sure they are affordable. Date night should never cause financial stress. Something as simple as watching shows you’ve taped or making dinner at home with music and dancing in the living room is a great date. A moonlit picnic is romantic, inexpensive, and easy to create.
- Put your best foot forward on date night. No matter where you go on date night, you should look your best, smell your best, and use the time to escape with your partner. Date nights should not be a time to vent, complain, or halfheartedly engaged. Have fun with them; use them as a time to play, to be free with each other, and to restore conversation.
- Cell phones are banned from date nights. There are two exceptions to this rule: (A) you want to take a photo of the two of you on your date night, or (B) you’re a caregiver to a child or elderly parent.
- Date nights are about restoring conversation. It’s so easy to slip in to talking about everyday things like work or the kids. Having conversation starters in mind really helps. You may have difficulty thinking of things you’d like to talk about, so why not try writing a few down during the week as you think about them? Here are a few suggestions to get you started about my favorite date night conversations.
- In your opinion what was the best date we ever went on?
- What do you remember about our first date?
- What was your first impression of me?
- What’s your favorite memory of the past year?
- Do you remember a time you were really afraid? What was so scary about it?
- Where do you see our family in five years?
- What movie title best describes our marriage?
Marriage suffers if you don’t prioritize and nurture it, making communication more tense and increasing disconnect and isolation. Couples frequently take each other for granted. Date nights are a deliberate way of telling your partner, “I see you. I love you. I want to spend time with you.” In a fast paced, busy world, feeling special and loved by your partner is the greatest gift we can give to one another.