Don't Forget a Weekly Date - Dating - Married Fun!
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When I was a child, I remember my little sister asking my parents why they always got to go out and "have all the fun" while we had to stay home with the babysitter and just go to bed. My wise parents explained to us that we should be happy they went on regular date nights because it made their marriage stronger. They told us that they best thing they could do for us was to love each other and have a strong and lasting marriage relationship. And after almost 40 years of marriage, they still continue to go on dates with each other and they still swear by this simple secret to a happy marriage.

Even though I was taught this important lesson at a very young age, I sometimes find myself forgetting to implement their advice in my own marriage. Life and its many demands can easily get in the way of dating your spouse, especially when children enter the picture. But no matter what life throws at you, it truly is important to prioritize a weekly date night of some kind with your spouse. Research shows that couples who spend alone time together every week have greater happiness in their marriage, better communication, and even a more satisfying sex life!

Scheduling and Planning Dates

Having a date with your spouse doesn't always have to mean leaving your house, and it doesn't have to be on a weekend night. Depending on your work and family schedules, the best time for you might be during lunch hour or after the kids are asleep on a Thursday. The important thing is to schedule time together each week and then don't let any other activities take precedence over it. It might be helpful to plan a regular time when you do actually go out together. For example, you could schedule your evening out for every first and third Friday night of the month. Make it part of your regular routine. If events that cannot be rescheduled come up on your regularly scheduled night, make sure your date is moved to a different day and time and not cancelled or skipped entirely. Make weekly intimate time together a priority for both of you. The important thing is not the actual day and time, but making sure you get time together alone and uninterrupted. 

Some couples like to plan dates together and some like to divide the planning. Do whatever works best for you. You can take turns being in charge of planning the date and/or getting a babysitter for the kids, or you can plan every date together. You could also put together a list of restaurants you would both like to eat at and/or activities you would both enjoy doing together, then select something from the list at random or take turns choosing something from the list. Occasionally allowing the opportunity for one spouse to surprise the other with the plans is also something that many couples enjoy. 

Making Dates Affordable

It's important that having a regular date together doesn't cause financial stress in your marriage. If you can afford to spend more, that's great. But not being able to afford fancy restaurants and big ticket activities shouldn't stop you from going out and spending time together. There are lots of great ideas for cheap dates, some of which you can even do at home. Some simple ones include playing cards or board games, cooking a meal or baking a dessert together, going for a walk or bike ride, going swimming or to the beach, going stargazing, going hiking, taking a picnic to the park, volunteering for a service organization together, going thrift-store shopping or window shopping, or doing a puzzle together. You can also check your local city's website or facebook page for free events in your community. 

What NOT to Do

The purpose of date night is to allow the two of you to connect as a married couple. You need to have fun together and keep the romance alive. If all you do is drive somewhere and barely interact with each other, then you're not doing it right. So here are a list of things you should NOT do on your date:

Talk about "administrative stuff" - Talking about the kids, the schedule, the house, the chores, and the finances is not good date conversation. That doesn't mean those conversations are not important, because they are, but they belong in other times and places. Dates are the time you set aside to talk about the two of you and connect with each other on a deeper level. Those other things might come up, but they shouldn't be the main focus. Instead, ask each other questions and learn more about each other. Find out how your spouse feels about things. Talk about memories you've made together or defining times in your lives before you met. 

Be on your phone - Yes, there might be a situation where someone actually needs to get in touch with you - your babysitter about the kids or something urgent. But you can find a way to filter your calls and texts to make sure you're only answering something that truly can't wait. Dates are a time to be together and you need to be present in the moment. Actually be there with your spouse and don't let anything on your phone come between you. 

Have high expectations - Dates are not always going to be the most romantic or amazing night of your life. Sometimes the food will be terrible or the service at the restaurant bad. Occasionally you may get lost while driving or be late to a show or you just won't really enjoy your chosen activity. Your spouse can't be expected to wow you with surprises on a weekly basis. Keep your expectations of dates reasonable and realistic. Laugh about things that go wrong together. Learn to simply enjoy dates for what they are: an opportunity to spend time together and make memories together. This deepens your bond and keeps your marriage strong. 

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