Having a regular date-night is probably one of the most basic prescriptions given out by couple’s therapists, and it’s also one of the most commonly ignored. I think that’s because it’s so basic in nature that it leaves couples wondering how important it really is.
When it was just my husband and I, we didn’t really need a date night. Every night was date night. It was just the two of us, and not much really got in the way of us spending our evenings together. We’d have dinner together at home or out at one of our favorite restaurants, and even if we didn’t go out we’d do something fun together.
In the early days when we were on a tight budget and living in a tiny apartment, we’d play board games, play video games, and watch tons of shows on Netflix. Now that we have kids, I look back at those times and I honestly can’t believe how many shows we used to keep up with. These days I’m lucky to have one show!
When we had kids things changed dramatically! It was no longer just the two of us, and we started to get disconnected. Being a couple’s therapist, I was hypersensitive to this disconnection, and recognized that I had to practice what I preached so we started doing date-nights two times a month.
Our relationship had evolved, like so many couples that I work with. Adding children and businesses to our lives added so much richness, but it also added craziness, lack of sleep, and shifts in our priorities.
That disconnection that started to happen very subtly is something that I see so many couples experience. But they aren’t as sensitive to it, and it often goes unnoticed for long periods of time. The continual focus on things other than that primary relationship causes distance between couples. They stop connecting, laughing, and sharing their inner worlds with one another.
I recently read an article on Facebook about why date-nights are a waste of time, the author was a mom, and she listed all of the excuses that I hear most people give when trying to plan a date-night – the cost, the need for a babysitter, having to get out of your yoga pants, etc. and while I can attest to having those hang-ups myself, I have to call B.S. on those excuses!
When you stop dating your partner you leave the door open to lack of connection.
Date-night doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t even have to take place at night. It can be Sunday morning walk on a weekly basis, or a lunch together during the workweek – I’m actually an even bigger fan of those times because then no one falls asleep during a movie or on the way home.
The point of a regular date with your partner is the connection.
It’s talking and getting back to who you were before life got too busy. Even when couples don’t have kids, they often mistake time together as quality time. Just because you occupy the same space day in and day out doesn’t mean that you’re connecting. You could be in the living room, and your partner could spend the evening in the bedroom on their laptop, and do that for weeks on end. You’re experiencing two totally disconnected realities even in the same space.
Date-night is really that important.
It represents friendship. We often grant our friends an incredible amount of grace when it comes to disagreements and misunderstandings, and that’s exactly how we should treat our partners. But you have to have that relationship established in order to do so.
Here are my top tips for scheduling date-night successfully:
1. Choose a reoccurring day and time that works for both of you.
2. Get a shared calendar, and mark that day and time weekly or every other week.
3. Guard this date the same way you would if you had an important doctor’s appointment – it’s funny how we can leave work early, fight traffic, and do whatever else we need to do for such appointments – this is how you approach date-night as well.
4. Shoot for twice a month, or once a week if you can swing it.
5. If you don’t have a babysitter talk with other couple friends who may also be lacking a date-night, and offer to swap kids every other week.
6. Have fun planning. Switch off planning every other date, and surprise one another with an evening out, or even at home.
7. Be creative, and remember, it’s not about the cost; it’s about the connection!
And that’s that. Get your date on, start connecting, and remember that friendship should come first. If you get stuck and just can’t seem to get into the groove of dating your partner, feel free to reach out to me (909) 226-6124. I’m happy to help.