Long ago, when our 10-year-old was just a baby and his sister wasn’t quite 10, my husband Gregg and I were reading a book on marriage by a Christian counselor. In this book, it was recommended that a married couple have a date night once a week.
Once a week?
Our son had never been left with a babysitter. He’d had a rough start to life and spent his first four weeks in the hospital. We scoffed at the thought of leaving our children and going out together once a week.
Then we read another book that recommended the same thing. And another. Listening to a sermon on marriage, the same thing was recommended. “Married couples need to commit to each other to spend one-on-one, away from home time no less than once a week.”
We were intrigued and decided to give it a try. We didn’t manage the once-a-week at first. Gregg worked out of town and came home on the weekends. Family time was as crucial as married time to him because of that. When our third child was just 5 months old, he went to an Army school for several months, then left from there to Afghanistan. Johnathan, the baby, was 3 when he came home, Scott was 5, and Kaylee was 14 — old enough to babysit!
When he came home, we purposefully set out to have a date night once a week. We did big things — concert tickets, dinner theaters. We did small things — planetarium visits and picnics in the park. We did intimate things — getting a hotel room for a just a few hours. The actual plan didn’t matter — we simply wanted to get away once a week away from distractions of home and children and be married and together.
Gregg’s been home from Afghanistan for five years now. We moved a little over a year ago, and Kaylee is away from us in college, hindering a lot of our date-night freedom. We found another couple with children our kids’ ages and we take turns swapping kids in exchange for dates nights about once a month.
It works perfectly and we know our kids are in good hands. To make up for the lack of childcare in the evenings, we intentionally have lunch together as often as possible. Lunch breaks with a ticking clock hovering over our heads aren’t as intimate as nights out, but we do relish the time alone together.
Exactly why do weekly date nights work?
- One thing that improves a marriage is communication. When you have purposeful, non-distracted communication, your relationship is simply going to improve. Wives — husbands want our attention. They want to feel like they’re in our focus and need affirmation that they’re important to us. Husbands — wives want to be heard, valued, and know our husbands still desire us. When our attention isn’t pulled away from a dozen things going on in the household around us — children, chores, bills — then we can focus on each other, give all of our attention to the other person sitting across from us like we did when we started dating. According to a comprehensive report issued by the National Marriage Project, couples who enjoy regular weekly “couple time” are over three times more likely to be satisfied with the communication in their marriage than those who do not.
- Breaking a routine keeps couples from feeling like they’re just existing in a rut. When couples plan something new and exciting on a regular basis, then it energizes the relationship and brings a freshness to it. Gregg and I take turns planning what we’ll do. Often, the plans are a surprise to the other one until we get there. Adding that level of anticipation really brings an excitement to the week as the time for the date approaches.
- The more attention you bestow upon your spouse, the more intimate you two will become. Increased intimacy leads to a more fulfilling sex life. A man needs to feel wanted and respected, a woman needs to feel romanced and loved. Intentional time set aside for each other with purposeful and enthusiastic planning will increase both the want and the love in a way that drives the sexual excitement and satisfaction. According to the National Marriage Project, couples who enjoy regular weekly “couple time” are almost 3.5 times more satisfied with their sex life than those that do not.
- When you make your spouse your priority, it not only increases your feeling of commitment to the relationship, it makes your spouse feel your commitment, and in turns makes him or her feel more secure. When both the husband and the wife are embracing a regular date night together, then that just solidifies the marriage on both sides in amazing ways. According the National Marriage Project, couples who enjoy regular weekly “couple time” are “3.5 times more likely to report being ‘very happy’ in their marriages, compared to those who enjoyed less quality time with their spouse.”
- Stress can build up and destroy a person and a marriage from the inside out. Regular quality time spent together lessens the stress of marriage and in each other. If there are difficulties or problems, talking about them to your mate, your spouse, your “one” in an intimate setting can relieve stress inside of you.
When you start your weekly date nights, establish a few ground rules:
- No phones. Go ahead and take the selfie, then set the phone aside. Assign your babysitter a special ring tone that will alert you to that one phone call, then ignore every other text/call that comes in. This is your time. Don’t let the world intrude.
- Try to leave the stress at home. If it’s possible, establish the date with positive feelings, love, and a building of sexual tension. If this is absolutely the only time you can talk about it, then don’t plan an activity around it. Make the date in a coffee shop or even a hike – a way to talk without focusing on something else. Pray together before you begin talking about it.
- If you didn’t plan the date and it’s not something you would normally choose to do, chill. Enjoy your spouse. Find the joy in your relationship and give it your best go.
- Touch. Hold hands. Snuggle and kiss. Love your spouse.
- Take turns making plans. Don’t put all of the pressure for planning on one person, because then it will become a chore and it will lose some of its excitement.
As someone who has spent years planning date nights/lunches with her husband, sometimes coming up with something fun and exciting and NEW to do is daunting.
To help ease the burden, I’m giving away this book that will give you 52 ideas! The Little Book of Great Dates: 52 Creative Ideas to Make Your Marriage Fun by Greg and Erin Smalley.
I’ll mail it to anywhere in the world — so don’t hesitate to enter.
The only thing you need to do to be entered to win is to leave a comment on this post. What was your favorite date you’ve ever been on?
Maybe you can inspire some of us when it’s our next turn to plan the date night! The giveaway will end Monday, November 21st at 5PM EST.