Not since the Rolling Stones sang “time is on my side” in the free love age of the 60’s has time been on our side. In the miasma of commitments to work, family, scheduling the kids stuff, camps, birthday parties, field trips, visits from relatives, getting in exercise and the more than occasional trip to the doctor for a kid’s sniffly nose or worse, time for “date night” never gets any attention. But here’s the thing. Time slips by. A month turns into a year, the kids go into the next grade, dates fill the calendar for everything but you and your significant other.
The experts all agree date nights are important to preserve, and protect a relationship regardless of whether you’re married or single. Dr. Bonnie Jacobson warned that parents’ over-committed busy lifestyles can cause marital conflicts. Of it, he says: “date night is as essential as oxygen for a marriage.”
A recent study revealed that new mothers who spend less time with their husbands than before they had children are more dissatisfied in their marriage. The touted study “The Date Night Opportunity,” revealed that couples spending time together at least once a week made a big difference in their ability to experience enjoyable and quality relationships.
Few and far between, are couples who have eked out date nights. “I forgot about how we met and fell in love through all those picnics on the beach he used to plan–he always surprised me with a perfectly adorable and delicious basket…I forgot until we managed to put it back into our lives as a weekly date. That man can make me laugh, just like he used to.” So said Marta, sighing over something valued that she managed to put back into her life.
So how do people do it?
Think about a date that allows you to connect and relax. Connecting helps to revive your intimacy. To bring that connection back, Family Counselor, Ziva Abrams, recommends a daily date for just a 10-20 minute conversation at an agreed upon time. Talk about light things, observations, experiences, and not disappointments or criticism. Each person takes a turn talking while the other just listens, enjoys, and relaxes.
Couple Gail and Mort offer their own plan of action: We decided to make a date night every Saturday night, with a part 1 and a part 2 because we realized two things we were missing. Part 1 was something physical and intimate, and part 2 was something enjoyably interesting or fun for us both. Now, admittedly, we’re not always able to do both parts, but as long as we get to one of the parts, it keeps up going—and wanting more! Gail plans a great play date for their children on Saturday that goes on through dinner, so dinner time is perfect time for us for part 1, and then, after the kids are asleep, we have part 2 at home. Many times we’re lucky to get a sleepover for the kids, and then we get to go out for part 2.
Some moms schedule regular play dates with another couple at alternating homes so that each couple has the opportunity for a date night.
Just remember that a date night (or day) doesn’t have to be dinner and a movie. Have a jar of all the wild and silly things you once loved to do, and explore some ideas of new experiences you’d like to get to. Whether it’s going to a painting class or joining in on a chocolate or wine tasting, the secret is making time for a good time with each other.