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Read almost any article about ‘How To Have a Happy Marriage’ and you’ll find advice saying you absolutely must have a date night, and that date nights are the crucial element to making a marriage work.
But the reality is, for many couples, date nights aren’t possible… so does that mean their marriage is doomed?
I’m here to tell you that date nights aren’t required for a happy marriage, I promise.
The Idea Behind Date Night
The idea behind a date night is completely valid. For a lot of couples, it’s easy to fall into a routine when you’re married, you become complacent, you find the daily to-do lists get longer, general stress starts to take over and your routine can soon become a rut.
Then when you have kids it becomes even more difficult to find a few moments alone together let alone being able to have a conversation about anything other than children and their needs.
Compare this to before you were married (or in a long term committed relationship) and you spent your time trying to impress each other, making time for each other, and going out on date nights on a regular basis.
The idea of a date night is that you take time away from whatever is happening in your life, and you make a scheduled and committed time to be together, as one. It sounds amazing.
The Reality Of Date Nights
But here’s where it falls down…
For many couples, the process of trying to organise a date night is even more stressful. IF you can find a sitter, there’s the worry of if the sitter will be okay, the guilt of leaving the kids, the hassle of having to make dinner for them anyway and don’t even get me started on the stress of trying to go out on a school night (because that’s the only night a sitter was available).
By the time you get to do your date with your husband, you’re flustered and you check your phone to see if you’ve had any missed calls. Your mind wanders, you worry that you’re spending too much money, and really all you want to do is cuddle up on the lounge and watch a movie.
But, all the articles have said you have to have a date night otherwise your marriage is doomed… so you persevere.
Maybe this isn’t the reality for you for date nights and maybe you love that chance to get away. That’s okay. Actually, that’s awesome. You keep doing your thing.
But for those of us who struggle with the concept of date night, and you’d much rather stay at home, I’m here to tell you that you can do that too and your marriage won’t fail because of it.
What’s More Important Than A Date Night
Too easily people get caught up in the idea of ‘date night’ rather than the actual meaning behind it. They take the ‘date night’ part literally and feel that the only way to do date nights properly is to leave the house, at night, go to dinner and a movie or whatever traditional date idea they had in mind, and leave the kids behind.
Sure, if that’s what you want, then go for it.
But, there’s something more important than a date night and it’s so simple…
Make time for each other.
It doesn’t have to be at night, it doesn’t have to be extravagant and it doesn’t have to cost you a cent. You just need to make a conscious effort to spend time together, make time for each other, and make it happen regularly.
Want to have more fun in your relationship? Grab a copy of our free Mini Relationship Planner, including the 55 questions to ask as conversation starters.
How To Make It Work For Your Marriage
Every relationship and every marriage is different. We all have different things that are important to us, things we like and don’t like, and things we want from our relationships. The key to making time for each other is to communicate these needs with your spouse.
If ‘spending time together’ for you means being in a quiet space, able to talk and chat, whereas for your spouse it means just physically being in the same room regardless of what you’re doing, then there’s going to be some disappointments as needs aren’t being met.
No one understands your marriage as good as you do, so be sure to make this work in your own way. Here are some ideas to help you make the most of your new interpretation of ‘date nights’.
1 – Schedule Time Together
When you schedule an appointment you make sure you get there, it’s in your calendar, you set reminders, you know it’s happening. When it comes to spending time together, you need to treat it like any other appointment.
That means it doesn’t get cancelled, it doesn’t get forgotten about and you both show up.
Sometimes you may only be able to schedule 30-minute blocks, sometimes you might be able to schedule a whole day together. The point is that you schedule time together and you make it happen on a regular basis.
2 – Create A List Of Things You Want To Do Together
Instead of getting to your scheduled time together and then spending the whole time trying to decide what to do, come up with a list of things you want to do together first. This might even be what you do in your first scheduled time.
We are great at coming up with ideas but not so much when we are put on the spot. So create a great big list, make sure you add in things each of you wants to do so it’s not all just from one person, and then use it like a to do list.
You can then allocate activities to your scheduled times based on how much time you have available or what else is going on in your life at the time and you’ll never have a ‘boring’ date again!
3 – Find Out What Is Important To Each Other
Do you know what activities your husband enjoys? Do you know what he likes doing with you? Do you know what is important to him?
There’s a great book that suggests we each have a different love language – that is a different way of expressing and way we like to receive love. Some people prefer to spend quality time, others like words of affirmation and our ‘love language’ can determine how we show our love for each other.
But, if you and your husband have different love languages, you may be expressing your love to each other without the other realising it, because it’s like one is saying I love you in Spanish and the other only understands French.
Take some time to find out your love language with your husband, and have a chat about what this looks like for both of you. You’ll be amazed at how much it can transform how you express your love to each other.
4 – Talk To Each Other
No marriage can be a happy marriage without communication. It is so important for you to talk to each other and to communicate your expectations, needs and desires. You’re not mind readers, a marriage isn’t a game or a competition, if you want something in your marriage you need to ask for it.
When was the last time you sat down and had a good conversation with your husband (that didn’t revolve around children, poop or Lego)? If it’s been a while, then you need to schedule one in. If you don’t know where to start, check out these questions you can ask your husband to get the conversation flowing.
5 – Listen To Each Other
Even more important than talking to each other, is listening to each other. Is your husband trying to talk to you, but you’re too busy trying to tell him something that you’re not listening?
I’m sure you’ve seen before when people ask a question and you can tell they aren’t even listening to the answer because they’re either too distracted, or because they’re already thinking about the next thing they want to say. It doesn’t make for a good conversation.
When you talk with your husband, be sure to stop and listen to him. Regardless of whether you’ve been able to communicate well in the past, and without saying anything like ‘but he never listens to me’ (remember, it’s not a competition) – just listen. Change starts with one step.
And perhaps you’re doing all of these things already, and your marriage is actually going along really well but you feel like it’s failing because you don’t get that elusive date night in.
Don’t feel like you have to stick to a set of rules (including these ones) to have a happy marriage. You get to determine what makes your marriage successful, date night or not.
If you need more inspiration, check out our Relationship Planner – filled with tons of pages to help you have more fun in your relationship!