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.
9 thoughts on “Do you need to have regular date nights?”
I agree. My wife and I have been married for 23 years and every time we try date night we are just too exhausted to enjoy it. When we do go out we would much rather join some friends as a larger group seems to energize us. Most one-on-one date nights for us have been a series of yawns followed by time checks as we both can’t wait to get home to sleep!
Having said that, what seems to work for us is not date nights but date days where we either ski or mountain bike together. Those activities energize us and provide time to talk- less about eating and drinking extra calories we don’t need and more about bonding while also using the time to exercise and recreate.
Great post! When my daughter was young she had seizures and we were unable to leave her with anyone that was not able to handle them. We needed to spend time with each other and started doing what we called date night in. This was not a big deal sometimes just putting all the kids to bed early to be alone in our room or sometimes I would fix dinner for us and we would retreat to our room. We loved it so much that even now (10 years later) with not having a medical reason to not go out and older children to watch our younger ones we still often choose to retire to our room for what everyone in the house calls date night in. We do enjoy going out but I think you hit it right. Find time for each other whether it is in the everyday of life or when crisis hits and you feel all spent.
Thank you for this. Date night out feels impossible for us too right now. We have three young kids, the youngest is still nursing and has some sensory processing issues which makes her VERY difficult for other caregivers that aren’t in her very small circle of accepted people. My hubby and I finally went out to dinner last night alone for the first time in ages, and while it was lovely, the restaurant alone was $50 when it was said and done. That is a TON of money for us. To do that every week? That would be 200-250 bucks a month, and that is if we can find free babysitters! I guess we could just go to McDonalds? Besides, there wasn’t a ton of talking last night because I am all, “Oh my gosh, HOT food that I don’t have to cut up for other little people until my food is cold!” And I start inhaling so fast there is little time for chewing, let alone talking. Ha!
But we try to be deliberate about spending time together at home. We have “Friday night fun night” at home which is usually pretty frisky and then sensual Saturday where we are more romantic, but both times we spend time together to talk and/or goof around that ends up in the bedroom. We talk the most when we are doing other things around the house. Most of our best talks are on his lunch break during his commute home and while making lunch together.
It is always frustrating to see the posts about the importance of date night when it feels impossible to us right now. Instead we try our best to connect in the every day moments as well as making time together a priority… from home.
With little ones and no family nearby to act as free babysitters, date nights out are rare. But we do spend time alone together nearly every evening and even more on the weekends. We love to spend time together and just talk and do things together. We make our marriage a priority without having to go somewhere on an official date. We’re introverts anyway, so staying in and watching a movie on the couch after the kids are in bed is at least as fun as going to the movies in town and way cheaper. I even make better popcorn. Or we’ll play a game or read a book together or just talk while cuddling in bed. There’s lot of ways to solidify our connection and keep our relationship strong that don’t involve leaving the children, spending money, or having to go somewhere.
My wife and I didn’t have formal date nights very often when the kids were little, but we spent time together. With the kids older now I think it is more important to have some kind of formal, predefined time for doing something as a couple.
Raising kids caused us to work together, but without them needing us so much now it would be easy for each of us to slip into focusing on our own personal hobbies and interests at the expense of spending time together. Having a predefined time for a date makes sure we both reserve that time for each other and don’t fill it with something else, and our other interests don’t take over and cause us to drift apart.
Having a date night of some kind early on can help make sure the habbit is there before impact of not having date nights becomes a factor, so it may seem unimportant now for a couple, but in the long run it could make a big difference.
And date night doesn’t have to mean babysitters and going out. It can be watching a movie at home and talking about it after. As long as it’s time you reserve for each other.
I agree that you don’t have to have Date Nights to survive, and you can work things into other parts of your life. We have 8 children and there were many years where we didn’t have the extra money or support to go out much. That being said, I feel like often a Date Night can be really helpful especially for stay at home Moms. Dad is often out of the house working and talking to other adults, while she is not. It makes a woman feel special and love to get dressed up and go somewhere alone with their spouse. I’d just like to see a little more balance on this site about a woman’s needs as well. Sex is great, but for women, there are other things that can be more important and can then lead to good sex for her as well.
Yeah, I agree, it’s incredibly important for stay at home moms to be able to get out.
As for more balance on the site…well, I’m a man, so it’s a bit easier to figure out my needs. I’m working on trying to figure out my wife’s, but it’s a longer process 🙂
Great points! I think that what is needed is that intentional interaction that you talked about. A lot of people don’t have the resources it takes to go out on dates a lot (money, time, nearby family to watch the kids, etc.). We’ve dealt with this a lot over the years.