When I work with married couples, one of the priorities, in addition to learning about their goals for counseling, is to learn how the couple would rate their friendship. Is there an ability to laugh and play together? Do they enjoy each other’s company?
Strengthening the friendship is one of the keys to longevity in marriage. One of the ways to build relational friendship is to have an ongoing ritual as a couple, such as date night.
I know a couple who has committed to a weekly date night since the start of their marriage. They both say it’s been a wonderful way to stay connected, and the simple act of seeing it on the calendar gives them something to look forward to during a stressful week.
Just how important is it to date your mate once you’re already married? What are the benefits?
Taking a break from the routine and responsibilities of the week can alleviate the day-to-day rut we sometimes fall into.
It’s an energy booster.
Some couples find that after spending quality time together, focused on each other, they have more energy to tackle the other demands in their life.
It diffuses tension.
It’s hard to be mad at someone while you’re having a good time!
What if a lack of affordable/reliable child care, unpredictable work schedules, or other challenges prevent you from making this a weekly event? If you can only do once a month, great—put it on the calendar and stick to it. Treat it as you would any other appointment. By doing this, you are sending a message to your partner that you are invested in the relationship. Of course, spontaneity is great too, but if you’ve been feeling disconnected from one another, spontaneity may be inhibited.
If finances are a concern, take advantage of some of the social media coupon deals to keep your dates inexpensive. If childcare is not an option, work with what you’ve got. Feed the kids at their regular dinnertime, but serve a special “grownups only” dinner for each other after the kids go to bed. Rent a movie or even better, turn the TV off, turn on some music you both enjoy and allow conversation to happen.
Don’t forget your appearance. Although your spouse loves you the way you are, being well groomed and wearing a nice outfit shows that you care. Remember the newness and excitement you felt when getting ready for a date with your sweetheart? Remind each other that it’s still worth the effort! Wearing something that makes you feel good often boosts self-confidence, which can have positive effect on your ability to connect.
If you haven’t spent one-on-one time together in a while, it’s normal to feel awkward at first. Couples who are also parents might feel like the conversation is centered on the kids. Don’t give up if talking about other things doesn’t feel natural right away. A simple conversation starter might be asking each other about the best/worst parts of the day or week.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried incorporating regular date nights? If you have kids, how have you gotten creative in carving out time for you and your spouse to connect? What changes do you notice in yourself and in your partner when you’re spending consistent time together? Leave a comment below or join the conversation on Facebook.
Are you and your mate struggling with the nuances of coupledom? Do you need help developing strategies for maximizing your relationship and the time you spend together? If so, contact The Stone Foundation at 410-296-2004 or visit www.thestonefoundation.com. We are a team of counselors dedicated to seeing you and your loved one live your best lives. Please know that this article is intended for general, educational purposes only. This article, and others like it, should not and are not meant to take the place of professional counseling services or medical care.
Elicia McIntyre is a licensed clinical social worker, and graduate of Smith College School for Social Work. She has over 15 years of experience providing counseling to adults, children and families in the Baltimore-Washington metro area. She has helped clients navigate life transitions, depression, anxiety and relationship difficulties. She has spent the past several years traveling nationally and overseas, providing education and intervention to military service members and their families.