Most couples want to have more date nights, but life takes over, and it just seems like too much of a hassle.
What’s stopping you? Money? Baby-sitters? Too busy? Too much tension? Today, let’s talk about 9 ways to make sure that you do actually spend time with your husband–because maybe some of our reasons for not having date nights are actually easy to defeat.
1. Don’t over-hype a date night and think it has to be super romantic. Just spend time together.
One reason we don’t do date nights is because we picture candlelight and long dinners and looking into each other’s eyes. That’s what a date night is supposed to be, right? And if that’s not where you’re at as a couple, that can seem intimidating. And what’s the point? Your life is stressful and busy, and you’re supposed to take time where you could be making it less stressful and pretend to want to sit at a restaurant and talk for two hours?
Now, for some of you two hours at a restaurant seems like bliss!
But I know that for many couples that seems silly. You aren’t feeling particularly romantic, and too many other things need your attention.
That’s why I think we need to start seeing date nights as just spending time together. Take the romantic pressure off! Romance will naturally follow when you’re connecting emotionally and when you’re laughing together. But if you haven’t been laughing together or connecting, you can’t expect to suddenly be able to conjure up romantic feelings.
So take a look at my list of hobbies for couples and choose one to start doing! Even if you’re in a stressful period of your life, finding something to do that you enjoy that can rejuvenate you is so important. And the more you just plain spend time together, the more the romance will start to come (and then you may want to have those romantic date nights!)
2. Give yourself a break when the kids are little.
This week a few people wrote on my hobbies for couples post that their hobby is going grocery shopping together, because at least they get to talk, and the kids are fairly good in the cart!
I’d call that a success.
Sometimes all we really need is to spend some time talking and sharing when the stress is lower, and it doesn’t really matter how you do that. Maybe it’s taking a long walk with the kids in strollers, or a long drive with the kids in strollers.
Here’s the big thing to remember: even when the kids are little, you still need time as a couple. You really do. That may not be a romantic date night, but it may mean that you figure out a hobby you can do at home as a couple, or you take more walks together.
And make it a priority to teach your kids how to go to sleep on their own at a decent time. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, the kids will complain. But you really do need your evenings back! And your children need to be able to self-soothe. Some kids with ADD or sensory processing disorders can’t do that well, but most kids just need the chance to learn. If you always nurse your nine month old to sleep, for instance, or give your 13-month old a bottle of water when she wakes up in the middle of the night, then she’s going to wake you up every time she wakes up because she’ll need you to get back to sleep! But if you teach her to sleep without an aid that you need to give her, then she’ll learn how to go to sleep by herself–and you’ll have your evenings back to spend with your hubby!
3. Have a Baby-Sitter Plan
But what about actually getting out as a couple? Don’t we have to do that sometimes?
Yes, you do. Every couple does need an actual date night, every now and then. I just don’t think you need that “one date night a week” thing that people always talk about. One a month, or even one every two months, is likely okay, as long as you are regularly spending time together on hobbies or talking. Not every couple can hire a baby-sitter and get out to do something special every week! (and not every couple can afford it, either.)
But sometimes you need that special time. And so have a plan to make life easier when the baby-sitter comes.
Here’s an awesome baby-sitter binder from The Dating Divas; it’s everything you need for your own peace of mind. You’ll know the baby-sitter has all the emergency info at her fingertips, and you can leave special things to help your kids behave (if that’s necessary).
And here’s another brilliant idea. Sometimes the problem with baby-sitters is that you’re afraid they’re going to come over and then spend the entire night on their phones, ignoring the kids. But if you have something pre-planned for the kids and the baby-sitter to do, that’s a lot more fun for the kids, but it’s also more fun for the baby-sitter (who may not relish the thought of having to figure out how to entertain kids for a few hours). The Dating Divas have two cute Baby-Sitter Adventure Bags that you just download and print. Here’s one I especially like of how to go on an indoor “camping” adventure:
4. Consider some group date nights
I love the Dating Divas website; they have so many great ideas to make date nights fun and build romance in your marriage! And they have two products that can help make group date nights super fun.
I love the idea of group date nights because as adults we simply don’t spend enough time with friends, and we do need friends to support our marriage. Besides that, baby-sitting can sometimes be easier because you can stick all the kids at one house and hire two baby-sitters to handle them all. The kids have more fun and it’s just easier on everyone.
If you want to have a monthly group date night with a few couples, here’s a way to share the workload and make sure that you all have a great time each month! It’s a year’s worth of group dates, and there’s everything you need in there to make them super fun, including menu ideas, game ideas, and more. Check them out here!
5. Take advantage of kids’ club nights/youth groups to time your date nights
Keith and I always had “date nights” on the nights when our kids went to church club night, or, as they got older, when they went to youth group. We had to drive them in anyway, and it usually gave us an hour and a half to two hours to ourselves, when we knew the kids were safely looked after. That’s when we often went out for dinner. We’d feed the kids earlier, and then we’d have our own romantic dinner. And we didn’t have to pay for baby-sitters!
6. Join a gym and create active date nights!
It’s actually pretty sexy to sweat and work out together. And if you both like doing that, consider paying a little extra for a gym membership that offers free (or inexpensive) baby-sitting. I once went to a gym where they had the most awesome baby-sitters that my girls just loved. So going on a “date night” to a gym wasn’t hard on the kids, so it made it easier on us, too. If you enjoy going to a gym together, and you’re able to do it once a week, compare the cost of a gym membership and the gym baby-sitting with going out to dinner four times a month. It may actually be cheaper!
7. Take conversation starters to make date nights more natural
Always run out of things to talk about? I’ve got a list of 50 conversation starters you can use with your spouse! Or you can simply download them to your phone or tablet to take with you on a date right here.
8. Know what to expect on your date night with your husband
The worst thing is sitting in the car when one of you says, “So, where do you want to go for dinner?”
And then you get in that whole silly discussion where you say it really doesn’t matter to you, and then he picks the ONE place you don’t want to go (you would have been fine with the other twenty restaurants he could have said), and then the night starts out badly.
Don’t do date night on default. Plan it beforehand. Know where you’re going to eat, what movie you’re going to see (if you’re going to see a movie), and what the expectations are. Is this for you to simply reconnect? Or is it supposed to be a sexy date?
9. Don’t expect a date night to solve all your problems.
Finally, sometimes we build up date nights in our minds so much, thinking that a date night is the answer to all of our problems. And that inevitably sets you up for disappointment and failure because a date night is simply an opportunity to spend time together and concentrate on each other. So the quality of the date night really relates more to the quality of your relationship. It can’t fix anything; it can simply make it easier to address real problems.
Here’s the idea: when you spend time together just talking and laughing, you bring the tension level in your relationship down and you start to break down walls. Sometimes those walls are there not because you’ve done anything particularly wrong; it’s just that you haven’t had time to connect in a while so you don’t really know what’s going on in each other’s hearts, and so you’ve become a little guarded. Date nights are great for this!
You’re building goodwill.
Now, let’s say that there is something a little testy in your relationship right now. Maybe you’re disagreeing on a major issue, or maybe you have money issues or sex issues or there’s been some trust broken. To address anything rough like that requires some goodwill to begin with.
A marriage is like a bank account: deposits are all the things that make you feel close. Withdrawals are all the things that strain your relationship (like those difficult conversations you need to have to resolve some conflicts).
So if your marriage is in a position where you’re going to need to make some withdrawals (like addressing your husband’s porn problem or actually sitting down and writing a budget), then you need to make sure your marriage bank account has a positive balance in it. You can’t go into overdraft.
The date night, you see, doesn’t solve the money problems. It just puts you in a safer position so that now you can tackle it.
Let’s talk in the comments: How do you make date nights less stressful? How often do you have a “date night”? Let me know!