In a Marriage Memo on the value of date nights in marriage, we asked readers to share comments and ideas. Here are their responses.
1. Oh I am so, so, so very sad to hear that so many couples are not finding a way to create regular date nights … and by regular I really believe that two nights a month is the absolute minimum! And to achieve that I think a couple has to shoot for weekly date nights so that we can have at least two a month.
My husband and I have been through every financial cycle imaginable in the past 27 years … yes I'm 52 and have been around a few bends in the road. We gave birth to 3 kids in 3.5 years … ouch! So I know a thing or two about juggling schedules and fighting hard for date nights.
And no … we never had family around who could/would baby sit for us … ever. I remember when my two oldest were tiny and I was hugely pregnant with #3 … waddling shameless into the street and literally flagging a poor unknown high school girl down on her way home from school. We had just moved to Dallas and knew no one that would baby sit. I think this poor girl thought I was a crazy woman but that started a wonderful relationship that lasted 9 years, and even though we now live in Washington, DC we still exchange Christmas cards with her entire family. We hired her for a "standing date night" every other Saturday or Friday depending on her schedule and I was never disappointed. Later when we could afford it we used her every weekend.
It was always worth cutting other things out of the budget to have a date night with my hubby … it was my sanity check on more than one occasion.
Fast forward to today … Our oldest was married this summer and moved a continent away … our middle child is 8 hours north of us in college and we just drove our youngest 5 hours south to college. So I was just a little nervous to be an "empty nester" … would my husband and I have enough conversations to fill the silence? no children to juggle … no games to rehash … no kid problems to solve (wait who am I kidding … there are still plenty of those!).
However, three weeks into this new phase of life we are dancing like the stars! We quickly realized the fruit of our labors is being harvested. We are madly in love and having a blast. Why? I believe with all of my heart it is because we kept our relationship fires tended to. When the house cleared out and the constant roar of sound was muted, we discovered there was an us hiding under all the wonderful chaos. The way my husband kissed me good bye this morning would make my children blush. (grin and sigh)
So as my hubby and I celebrate our anniversary this week, we indeed have a lot to celebrate. God has been good and I think we were obedient to keep our priorities clear. It was never easy, but oh my it was so worth it! And yes, we still have date nights!
2. My husband and I, before we were married, made a commitment that we would do date night at the very least every other week. My husband has two younger children that are with us every other week. So the weeks they are not with us is our time. Some weeks we have more than one day night. My children are older and the week that we have the little ones my kids offer to spend an hour or so since that know that date night is non-negotiable, so on those weeks we go out for dessert only after we have dinner with the little ones.
Some date night outings consist of dinner, movie, dessert only, just alone time, even if it is for 45 minutes to an hour we both feel it is one of the most important things to do together.
In our pre-marriage agreement we decided to have date night (weekly or bi weekly), marriage conference (once a year), but prayer every day no matter what. We have both been married in the past and knew that if these things were not part of our future we would not agree to marry. We both give God the glory and know the need for Him to be in the center even in our date night time.
3. We swap with another couple whose children are friends with our kids. They go out one month while we watch their kids, and then we'll switch the following month. It gives the kids a play date, doesn't cost anything for babysitting, and it gives us something to look forward to! I definitely recommend finding another couple you can swap with.
4. My husband and I once led a couples ministry at our local church; and there we would take various trips. We would hear how they would be so excited to be able to get away for just a day. We would have chartered bus rides to historical locations as well as mini cruises, trying to set the atmosphere for them to have a one-on-one moment. In our teaching we would stress that you don’t just wait for our ministry trips, but you should plan and do them on your own. If not weekly, biweekly.
My husband and I [do] date night, which may consist of tickets to a jazz concert or a packed lunch at the fishing hole. During the spring/summer we would take rides to nowhere every Sunday. We often laugh and say we would write a book on how to travel on a dime!
5. My wife and I try to have a date night a minimum of once a month … and shoot for going every two weeks or more when possible. We do have two children, ages 3 and 6. We are blessed to have [someone] not too far from our home that enjoys keeping them.
The reason for my writing is to direct you to a website I found about a year ago (I have no affiliation whatsoever with the site or people that run it) from the ‘about’ page I leaned that it is run by a group of Christian married women that encourage creative date nights with their spouses. The site is stock full of creative fun date ideas. The site is called www.thedatingdivas.com I can’t recommend them enough!
6. We believe in date nights and do not miss one week. We've been married for 35 years and together for 42 years. After our first 6 years of marriage ministry and children became the priorities. Dates were few and far between and with that so was our communication which was in the toilet. Things got so bad, we planned to divorce. Some close friends of ours invited us to a married couples retreat and that weekend we repented to Our Lord, to each other and started all over again. At the retreat we were very much encouraged to have a date night a minimum of one per week and to pray together every day.
We immediately did just that. To my surprise my husband declared our date nights as Friday nights. He told all the family, friends, ministry leaders and church friends that Friday was our date night and he is committed to date night with "his bride". That blessed me more than words can ever say. That was 29 years ago and we have not only had date nights (sometimes all day dates) every Friday. We also, in addition to our family vacation, take a vacation together every year for a week. It's Jim, my husband and me, on vacation just the two of us for a week! It's exciting and we cherish our time together. What we have seen is our kids think it is great and as we prepare them for their marriages, we know date nights will exist for them and so we are leaving that, along with other things, as a legacy for our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and generations to come.
We have fun spending time together. On one date we were both tired but we went to Barnes and Nobles anyway. We had hot tea and went back to sit in the comfortable chairs to talk. We held hands and to our amazement, we fell asleep holding hands. Little did we know we became an example for the employees. Afterwards we came home opened the moon roof to the car and sat in our driveway looking at the stars and moon while talking. We have a rule no discussion about the kids (now adults), and no finances, just time to talk about us and our Lord.
So our date nights vary from getting take out and a movie, going to the library and getting books and movies, having dinner at Sam's Club, dinner on Valentine's night with an overnight stay, a picnic in the park and feeding the ducks, spending a night driving around to see Christmas lights/decorations, enjoying an upscale dinner for two "just because" and many, many other dates throughout the years. It's a beautiful thing and we cannot imagine not having our special time together on a date day, date afternoon or date night. They all work wonderfully!
7. Just wanted to let you know that a date night or date day is a necessity to every marriage no matter how long you have been married (40 years for us this past August). It hasn’t been a smooth road but only by God’s grace, she has put up with me. We try to do something as often as we can, and spontaneous seems to work the best whenever possible. Saturday we got up and decided to go for a bike ride and it was so much fun that we did a different one in the afternoon. So yes, it doesn’t have to be an expensive date just meaningful to both.
8. As a Pastor my time is pulled in many directions and can be limited if I am not careful. Every Monday is my day off and since my wife, as I like to call her, is a Home Economics Engineer, also known as a stay at home wife/mommy, we take Mondays as our day together. We have from 8:15 a.m. till 2:15 p.m. to focus on each other, before our two children begin coming home. On our date day, we talk about life, read the Bible together, take walks, laugh, cry if in a tough conversation, have lunch and reconnect. After a crazy week and a fulfilling full Sunday, Monday's are refreshing. We are protective of our Monday—no kids, no work and minimal use of phones.
I have found that this time has continued to strengthen our marriage, allowing us to talk without “Mommy, I need … ” or “Daddy, can you … “ We love our children deeply, but my wife and I agree our marriage is a priority. Once a month we go on a "fancy" date which is always fun but we truly look forward to our day together to learn more about who we are.
9. Just a thought: Date night does have to cost anything. My husband and I rarely leave the house for a date. We have five boys, ages 5-12. Getting a babysitter can be difficult and expensive. My parents do babysit whenever we ask, but they have 22 grand kids in town so we would be selfish to ask too often or even monthly. However, almost every Friday night we let our boys watch a movie and we go to the front porch or couch and talk. It is a necessary time. Just the two of us, focused on each other and our week and our weekend and our marriage and our struggles and stresses.
It is valuable and I hate to miss it. Unless we actually are going out on a date, I don't like to do anything else on Friday night. The boys get a break from school with the treat of a movie (our TV is never on except on Friday night and Saturday cartoons) and we get focused time for usually two hours. No interruptions. After the boys go to bed we usually conclude our evening with a movie or TV show and snuggle in bed while watching something. All very important to our intimacy--conversation and non-sexual touch.
Thought I'd share because I am passionate about the importance of focused time with your spouse.
10. One solution we found that helped the cost a little: We would go out after the kids went to bed; babysitters were willing to accept a lower rate if they did not have to actually take care of the children. Coffee and a shared dessert in a usually pretty empty restaurant makes for some nice connecting time.
11. We have to be intentional and put our time alone on our calendar and think of it as a doctor's appointment we would not dare miss! If we plan to go out for dinner we seek to support a family owned restaurant that has recently opened instead of a mainstream one and one we have not tried yet. We then can recommend it to others and feel good about helping them get established in the community. Or often times I will plan an intimate meal for just the two of us to eat together after our kids have gone to bed.
12. We are blessed to have my in-laws living only two miles from our home. Since our son was about 12 (he's 17 now), they have kept him every Tuesday night. So, we claimed Tuesday as date night.
I never realized what we were missing by not doing a regular date night. Since we've been doing them, we've definitely become closer. We communicate more & argue less. I actually miss him if our schedules are hectic & I haven't spoken with him all day. We have merged our parenting styles rather than playing "good cop/bad cop". We work together as a team more easily. And we have made a conscious effort about spending quiet time as a family. Need I mention, our intimate moments have increased as well?
I made my husband a Date Night Calendar for our anniversary a couple of years ago. It included 52 different date night options of which he would choose by placing on the calendar each week. We have a limited budget so it was mostly inexpensive dates such as: test driving our dream cars, a scenic drive & picnic, cooking an ethnic meal together, candle-lit dinner in front of the Christmas tree, enjoying a bonfire w/ foil dinners & s'mores.
My favorite however, were when we did a six-week Bible study on how to be parents to teenagers. It gave us the opportunity to learn new things about one another by discussing our teen years. We were also able to get an idea for each other's parenting styles w/o getting defensive.
Another great thing about Tuesday's being date night is that there are less crowds & better deals on meals.
13. My husband and I will be celebrating 50 years of marriage in December, and believe me you still have to make an effort to show each other the love and respect you have for each other. Do not assume the other knows. Words and actions play a big part in building each other up.
We try to do something every week to get away and just enjoy private time together. When the weather permits we get outdoors and go to a park, walk, talk, sometimes just be silent and be. When the weather is not so good we go somewhere indoors; there are many free things to do. We go to the budget theater to see not-so=new releases, and take advantage of senior discounts everywhere. My husband has to twist my arm (not) to go to Chick-fil-A.
If we are out running errands or doing nothing in particular, our way of always connecting is to hold hands. We never leave each other to work, etc., without giving each other a kiss and a hug, you never know it could be the last. Each day in some way we say I love you and mean it! We do not have much money and still work to supplement what we do have. It is amazing the small acts of kindness you can do not just for others, but each other. No, life is not worry free, but that is why the Lord gave us each other. He meant us to be a team through all the ups and downs, not just the good times.
It is so very important to take your vows seriously and appreciate what is right beside you.
14. Our children are 16 and 21, so it's not as hard as it used to be to find time to spend without interruption. We manage a date night at least a couple of times a month, sometimes more. On the weeks when we don't leave the house, we'll go for a walk together or sit on the porch together and talk. And we don't mind finding a movie on Netflix and trading foot rubs while we watch together. It doesn't have to cost a dime to make time for each other.
One of our favorite things to do is pack a picnic lunch and go hiking to area waterfalls near our home. We are firm believers in date night, whether it's out of the house or in … shut off the TV, computer and all the rest and just talk. It really does make all the difference. Soon you'll wonder how you managed without it!
15. When our daughter was six years old she begged to have swimming lessons. Another friend of hers joined in lessons with her. Every Friday night the girls would take turns to sleep over at each other's homes. So, once a fortnight, we had a date night!
16. Every second week, one of us plans and arranges a date as a surprise. Anything is possible, and early on in the evening we inform the other about the dress code or the location. Last date night we sat in big cozy chairs in front of a fireplace at a local hotel bar and ordered sushi!
It's my turn next and my plan is: get dressed up and drive separately to a restaurant or so, and pretend we are on a blind date, meeting for the first time.
17. When our kids were small, elementary age, and we were still paying off student loans, my husband and I would get up extra early one morning a week just to be together. Our splurge was instant cappuccino. If tiredness overruled, we mandated the kids play outside while we indulged in our cups of cappuccino together for an hour after school. My husband taught high school. Cappuccino Tuesdays.
With high school kids and my husband's career change into a pastor, our on-demand evenings mean we carve out time in the afternoon. We often grab a to-go drink from the house and drive to a small pond with a fountain. Simply watching the water spray and talking for a while is calming and bonding.
18. This made me really sad to read [about couples who do not take time for date night]. It takes me back two years ago at church when a group of us were struggling. At that time I was a single mom and also needed time away.
Our solution was we have four families in a co-op. We each have a Saturday each month where we host the kids in our home. This allows for three free Saturday nights for couples to re-connect for 5 hours. Within the five hours many things can be achieved.
We have not only found that this is wonderful time for the parents, but also for the kids. The kids have grown together as a small group mentoring each other, helping out where needed, bonded close friendships, done local missions together and much much more. People see us out in the community with these kids (nine total) and they know who they are and if not it gives us a chance to minister how this has benefited our lives.
God provided for all of our needs when we formed this co-op. We give Him the glory for putting us all together. As we start our third year, we are praying for many others to find a group they can connect with to allow for this quality time of togetherness.
19. This email absolutely broke my heart. If we didn’t “date” I don’t know where our marriage would be. Life is soooo stressFULL. It is too easy to forget all of the wonderful things you love about each other.
There are seasons where we can go out every week, but more often we are able to go out about once or twice a month. We also have two events every year that my husband and I go out of town for without the kids, one is our alumni weekend at our alma mater (we graduated from the same university) and the other is a Winshape Marriage Retreat.
I’m guessing that people have the biggest problem with getting someone to watch their kids so they can go out. Here are some ideas for getting help with the kids so you can get out on a date!
- We also ask grandparents and other family, when we can.
- I would suggested contacting a local daycare for a list of sitters. Our local daycare, keeps a list. They are already trained, CPR certified, and love kids! I have never had a problem getting someone to watch four kids at a time, aging from <1 to almost 6 years old. We have used several referrals from the daycare. I don’t think public schools can make recommendations, but private daycares and school can.
- I love the babysitting swap idea … have at least one from the neighborhood, at least one from school, and at least one from church! We have at least four families in our neighborhood that we swap sitting with regularly. You might be surprised if you make the offer to another couple that they excitedly accept!
- Our neighborhood has a Facebook page, and people post all the time to find or get babysitting jobs. Some are younger girls, but some are “grandmother” types, and some a stay-at-home moms that want to make extra money.
- We get referrals from our small group. We all have children about the same age, and we really trust each other’s recommendation
- Our church doesn’t have a babysitting list, but we have asked the Sunday School teachers for ideas and suggestions. There are several teenagers who help out in our children’s ministry that I would not hesitate to leave my kids with, especially if they have parent’s home at the same time they are over. If I am ever nervous about teens, I build a relationship with their parents first, and only have them over when their parents are home in case they need help.
- We have built relationships with all of our neighbors. Any babysitter gets several items when we leave: an information sheet, a credit card, and an insurance card for the kids. In case of emergency, I want them to have as much information as possible. Our information sheet has information about where we are, how to contact us, neighbors information, closest hospital with directions, etc.
Ideas for date nights:
- Many websites have listings of free or cheap things to do in your city! Just Google “free dates in CITYNAME.
- We love playing games, so sometimes we will take a board game or cards to a local place (park, coffee shop, or restaurant) and have fun for hours. Travel Scrabble is a favorite of ours! Keep it in the car for unexpected date opportunities!
- We have downloaded some lists of questions and quizzed each other. You can Google fun ideas like, “first date questions”, “questions to ask your husband”, etc. You have to filter for appropriateness sometimes, but it will get you talking. If you don’t talk regularly (about anything other than the house and kids) you may need some help getting started.
- We have a state park pass, and we really enjoy doing day dates to visit parks and monuments, just to see something we’ve never seen before together. It is always fun to bring a picnic. It is too easy to run by the grocery and pick up a loaf of French bread from the bakery, some cheese (like Alouette so we can dip the bread), and grapes (you can wash them in the water fountain at the park!) … that is like $6 tops! If we are really hungry, we grab a rotisserie chicken too or some chicken salad from the ready-made area. Or, if we feel like it, we grab a pizza carry out for cheap! Little Caesar’s is only $5! The park pass is also a great item for family fun too!
I hope some of this helps someone rekindle fun and passion in their marriage!