Over the years I’ve worked with countless couples married 10, 15 and 20 years who tell me they feel distant. They don’t communicate or no longer have anything in common. I always feel sad when I hear this because with a little coaching early in the marriage their relationship never needed to take a backseat to raising a family and building a career.
DATE NIGHTS are an investment in your relationship!
When you want to be good at something you invest time, energy, and sometimes money.
If you want to become good at golf or playing the piano you spend time learning the skill and then practicing it.
If you want to have a great garden you water and feed your plants. Without this nurturing the plant will wither and die.
A committed, on the calendar time, at least once a month, preferably twice a month, says you are invested in your relationship and your partner matters!
3 Cardinal Rules for Date Night
#1 Do NOT Talk about Parenting, Finances, or other Problems!
Those topics are for your Business Meetings not for Date Night. (I recommend couples have a business meeting to handle budgeting, tasks associated with shared parenting, household chores, schedules, etc. These meetings might need to be held weekly to stay on top of things. BUT not on date nights!)
#2 Reminisce about the good times!
The best possible way to nurture your relationship is to make eye contact, remember and talk about why you married in the first place. Spend some time remembering your time together pre-married. What did you talk about then? What were some of your favorite dates? What did you enjoy about each other? What hobbies or activities did you enjoy together? Research supports: sharing positive memories rekindles the feelings associated with the memories.
#3 Date Nights are for refreshing your RELATIONSHIP!
This is your chance to relax, rekindle, and renew your relationship. When we feel connected, romance becomes a natural by-product of feeling close to each other. Keep date nights for these purposes and you will stay positively connected a lot longer.
Bonus: Your Kids (AND Friends!) Are Watching
Keep in mind your children(AND friends) are watching. Even if they complain about having a sitter, you are showing them how much your spouse/partner matters to you. The couples I’ve seen who quickly work through issues that brought them to counseling have had positive relational role models growing up and need only a little tweaking. Date nights are good for your kids and they refresh you for the times you spend with them.
Patti Bitter, MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist in St. Louis, MO. You can read more about her practice @ www.tapestrycounseling.com