One of the most common pieces of advice I hear from the marriage community is to have a regular weekly, or at worst, monthly, date night. A regular night where you get out of the house and spent time together with just the two of you. Some will say that they are critical, that your marriage can’t survive without them. In fact, some will say that once a week you need to have date night and once a quarter you need to get away for a weekend. But, I disagree. Today is our 15th wedding anniversary, and for perhaps the second time in the last year, my wife and I are going to be able to get out and have a “date” without kids, and I think we’ve only been able to get away without the kids overnight once or twice in our entire marriage (though one was for a couple of weeks on a mission trip). Keelie over at LoveHopeAdventure.com and I were discussing this one day, and she thought it would be a good post topic.
So, if having a regular weekly or monthly date night is so critical, how do we survive?
Because we incorporate those things that a date night is intended to promote into our daily life. By doing this, you can grow, you can build a deeper relationship, even when regular date nights are impossible. So, let’s go through some of these things that date nights promote and discuss how to accomplish them in daily life.
Date nights are great for being able to give your spouse your undivided attention. In fact, their so good at it that often couples get to a restaurant…and then don’t know what to say. They’re so used to having their attention divided that they struggle to be fully engaged in conversation. That’s one of the reasons I created the 37 Questions for Spouses to ask each other about sex, to both help you start deep conversations for those times when you don’t know how to start a conversation.
But, you can do this at home. You can take the time for it to just be the two of you. For us, in this season of life, it’s when the kids go to bed. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, because the little one isn’t on a schedule yet, but often enough, we have time when it’s just us.
Date nights are good at promoting open communication. I mean, if you’re sitting together at a meal with no distractions…you have to start talking, or else it gets really awkward. In fact, talking about sex is preferred to silence in most cases.
But, this can be done at home as well. All it takes is being intentional about carving out time together to talk. When the kids were younger, we’d spend a lot of time talking in the vehicle while driving. It’s getting harder to have really deep conversations these days in the van because the kids are getting older, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find other times to have them. Often we talk while in bed, or while doing the dishes, or whenever the kids are off doing something else. My point is, you can find ways to carve our space to have these conversations, without leaving the house. Now, many will say don’t discuss sex in the bedroom, but I disagree. I think after sex is the best time for these conversations, because you have a ton of Oxytocin in your body making you more willing to be vulnerable, because you feel emotionally secure and bonded in your relationship.
Modeling for your kids
They say date night models for your kids that you are intentional about your marriage and take the time to invest in it. I agree, it does. But, I think you can also model for your kids that you are intentional about your marriage without leaving the home. Our kids know that our marriage is very important to us, at least the ones who are old enough to understand. Often when they ask why they need to go to bed, the answer is so that we can have time together alone. So, you can manage to do this without a regularly scheduled date night.
Now, I’m not saying date nights are bad, when we do go on them, we are sure to tell the kids that we’re going together, and that no, they are not invited, because we want time for us. I’m just saying it doesn’t need to be that blatant every week.
Date nights are stress relievers
No argument. But, I worry that too many of us are not learning to manage stress in our daily lives. If you need to escape to manage your stress levels, then something is wrong with your life. You need to find ways to increase the margin in your life, or find the joy in the things you are doing. If the only way you can function is to check out for a while, then something is very wrong.
Instead, find ways to relieve stress while at home together. Play games together. If you want to play sexy games, check out our Truth or Dare game for some quick fun, or if you want something that will spice things up a bit more, check out our Spice Jar printable.
Or, check out Melt, a couples massage course, and learn to give each other amazing massages that have a great potential to lead to my favorite stress reliever: sex.
Or just find some funny YouTube videos of comedy, or improv. Have a laugh together, because laughter is great medicine for stress.
Or go exercise together. Exercise has an amazing ability to decrease stress levels. Plus, exercising gets your blood pumping, which is great for some … post workout exercise. In fact, women’s ability to be aroused and orgasm are increased dramatically for 30 minutes after cardio, and for an hour after cardio and strength training. Plus, lifting weights boosts testosterone, which helps men get stronger erections that last longer, and help women be more sexually engaged.
My point is, you can find a lot of ways to relieve stress without leaving the house.
Date nights aren’t bad
Now, again, I want to say that date nights aren’t bad. I think they’re a wonderful thing. But, I know that for some of us, date nights would be near impossible, if not impossible, to manage on a regular basis. There aren’t a lot of people willing to babysit 5 kids and put them to bed, including a 14 month old that’s breastfeeding and won’t take a bottle. That’s our life right now, and it has been for the last decade (though the number of kids wasn’t always this high). Plus, babysitting is expensive! And so are dates (though you can manage cheap dates, and some can manage free babysitting regularly). So, we’ve learned to survive, and even thrive, without date nights.
So, do you need regular date nights? No. But you do need to be very intentional about carving out space for the two of you to increase intimacy on all levels. Civilization has managed without regular date nights for centuries, and you can too. It just means you have to find ways to fit intimacy into daily life.