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Wifey Wednesday: How Important is a Date Night?

It's Wednesday, the day when we talk marriage! I introduce a topic, and then you follow up either by commenting or by writing your own post and then linking up!

Date Nightphoto © 2008 Colure Caulfield | more info (via: Wylio)

I have a confession to make. My husband and I don't actually have a regular date night. That doesn't mean that we don't spend time alone together; it's just that it's not a regular day of the week.

Now, I've been a big advocate of date nights. I've told you all that you need to schedule time to connect, and time when the kids can't interfere. I've told you to save dinner until after the kids go to bed, or to find a way to be romantic even if it doesn't cost a lot of money.

And it's not that I don't believe that. I do. It's just that there's a bigger issue to me, and it's this:

The reason we need date nights is to find time to actually talk, connect, and share what's going on in our hearts and our lives.

Most couples do not talk about non-logistical things on a daily basis. They may talk about who is going to pick up the kids from soccer, or what camp they're going to this summer, or does that rash look bad, but they don't talk about heart issues. They don't share what they're feeling. Even though they may live under the same roof, they lead almost two separate lives. They don't necessarily do things together. They don't have common interests. And so if they don't carve out that time during the week to connect, it isn't going to happen, and distance will increase.

On the other hand, I've heard people with awesome marriages saying that date night isn't important to them. It's not that they don't believe in dating; it's because they live their lives as if they are one big date. They talk to each other when they see each other the work day. They hug. They kiss. They know what is going on in each other's lives and they ask about it. They text during the day.

That's how my husband and I live. Sure, we may goof off on computers and ignore each other for an hour or two at night occasionally, but we also walk together every night. Spring is now here, so we'll be renewing our membership in the tennis club so we can play tennis several times a week. We bike together. We cook together. We just plain talk.

And if you're doing those things on a regular basis, I'm not sure a date night is the end all and be all.

The question really is: do you enjoy being together? Do you talk about things? Do you know what is going on in each other's lives? Do you each feel valued? If you can answer yes to those, then you're doing great! Don't beat yourself up over a date night.

But if you can't answer yes, then a date night is a good place to start. You just need to rediscover that you enjoy spending time together and talking together. And I think the more you get in the habit of doing that--of actually talking--then the more you will do it in the rest of your life.

I think it is far more important to find activities that you enjoy doing together than it is to go to a restaurant to have dinner once a week. The activities are fun and keep you motivated to be together. The dinner together can feel contrived. And many men find it easier to talk when you are doing things together.

I asked a question on my Facebook page a few months back, "what hobbies do you and your husband share?" One woman wrote back that she took up fishing for her husband's sake, and it saved their marriage. I was intrigued, and we emailed back and forth, and her story made it into my upcoming book, The Good Girl's Guide to Great Sex.

Let me summarize it here. Basically, they had been married for twenty years, and were seen as leaders in their church. But their marriage had slowly been going downhill. He spent all his time at elders' meetings and at the gym. She was with the kids. And she was fed up and ready to leave. They had nothing holding them together anymore. No shared interests.

That weekend, after she had made the decision that she would go, the church announced their annual fishing tournament. And Kendra decided that she would go with her husband. So she did. And she caught the biggest fish! But the most important thing she discovered was how much she liked fishing. She liked just sitting there, peacefully, and chatting with her husband.

fishingphoto © 2007 mdemon | more info (via: Wylio)

And now they fish together all the time. When they go into a tackle store to buy stuff (I don't even know what the proper term would be), other men whisper, "I wish my wife would fish!" And her husband beams with joy.

Do they have a date night? I'm not sure. But they do things together, and that leads to talking together, and feeling as if your lives are intertwined.

Many couples say that the biggest problem in their marriage is communication, but I'm not sure that's true. I think communication is often the sign of a deeper problem, not the problem itself. And the deeper problem is that you haven't spent enough time together to build goodwill and to understand how each thinks and feels. Spend time together just doing something--anything--that you enjoy, and communication problems will often get better on their own.

That's why we don't have a date night. We do things together, and so we already feel connected. We don't have to go out to dinner to prove that. So if you aren't communicating with your husband, and if you feel distant, the answer, I believe, is certainly to carve out some time just to talk and have fun. But the more important solution is to find things that you enjoy doing together so that you naturally spend time together, without it having to be forced.

Does that make sense?

Now, how do you keep your relationship alive? Do you shared interests? Or has this been a struggle? Or do you have something else to tell us? Write your own Wifey Wednesday post that links back to here, and then leave the link of THAT POST in the Mcklinky below. Thanks!

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At 10:31 AM , Blogger J said…

For those who want a date night, I strongly encourage churches to provide a babysitting ministry. Our church had a babysitting co-op where couples took turns caring for kids, while others went out for some alone time. Yes, sometimes we went to Wal-Mart instead of dinner, but the "us" time was wonderful.

I agree entirely that the important part of dating is time together to connect, not a specific destination. In fact, many couples go on dates to movies and don't end up talking. A walk around the neighborhood could be a better glue for that marriage bond.

Thanks for the reminder, Sheila!


At 10:39 AM , Blogger ET @ Titus2:3-5 said…

I've always been a big advocate for the "date night" concept, because I see too many couples drifting apart and living as roommates. I agree that it's more about having great communication than the date, but there's also that element of courting. What woman doesn't like to be taken out, doted on, wooed?

Like J, our date night has often been shopping for groceries together or something equally normal. But a few times a year, I want the fancy dinner with wine type date. :)

Pat and I don't share a lot of common interests, so we both spend a lot of time compromising and doing things we'd rather not. :) But, since we're both not in the shape we'd like to be, I'm trying to get us doing some fitness stuff together. I'm hoping it can be a shared interest that we enjoy together and eventually become a family activity.


At 12:16 PM , Blogger Elizabeth said…

Pretty much our only natural common interest is Jesus. That works out fine because we both like to talk about God. There don't need to be a lot of common interests if you keep open communication and ope hearts with each other.

But common interests do help. I never touched a video game in my life until I married my husband, but now I play sometimes because he likes to play. Conversely, my husband sometimes helps me cook - not because he likes to cook, but because he knows I like to cook.

Mostly, though, we spend time doing nothing much. We have a leg up on a lot of couples in that way, though, because we both work from home for the same company, so we're with each other pretty much 24/7. The sheer quantity of time we spend together almost inevitably leads to quality time.


At 1:48 PM , Anonymous Annie said…

I desperately want a date night!!! We just had our third child and the "us" time is infrequent to say the least! I totally agree that alone time is crucial to a good marriage, so we definitely make an effort but it would be wonderful to have a bit more. Since it's so difficult to be alone these days, we quite often go for a walk on the nearby trail or into town to get a slushie.
Thanks so much for the encouragement and the gentle reminder that we don't have to "go out" to go out!


At 2:29 PM , Blogger Shaun and Holly said…

I got married young (19) and have been married for 18 years. When we were first married and had 2 little ones, we just we not able to date (financial reasons) so we would put the kids to bed early and have a special dinner at home. We also went for walks along the water so we could chat as we walked.
When the kids got to school age we would go out for lunch every once and awhile. Lunch is cheeper than supper. Other times we would meet up at noon and go for a walk.
Now, we have teenagers and have much more time together.
Date nights have not been really important to us in our marriage but "hanging out" and talking has! :)


At 2:42 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I totally agree that we should try to get involved in our husband's hobbies. My husband is a computer guy, and he thinks it's so awesome that I enjoy playing PC games with him. He often says that all geek guys wish they had a girl like me. :) But it's not always easy to get involved in his hobbies. He would love for me to learn how to program, understand computer jargon, and talk with him about all that computery stuff. But I don't have the same knack for that stuff that he does, so I don't know if I'll ever understand it all. But we compromise: I try to understand his computer jargon and he listens to me describe every detail of whatever book I'm reading at the time (even though he hates reading).


At 4:47 PM , Blogger Nylse said…

Date nights do feel contrived. We'd rather hang out doing something we both like and having good conversation.

However, it is nice to go out on a real date ever so often, just because....


At 5:35 PM , Blogger Terry @ Breathing Grace said…

We used to do date nights years ago. When we stopped it, I didn't mis it much and I think that's because we try to carve out time to be alone and connect withe each other around things not connected to bills, carpool, and kids.

Right now we're combining our fitness efforts and working out together. But one of the little things we do is go into our room and shut the door not long after my husband gets home from work. No kids can enter for at least a half hour while we just hold hands and catch up on the day before dinner.

Little things like that go a long way towards keeping your relationship a top priority.


At 5:39 PM , Blogger Cara said…

It's so nice to read this post. Over the years, I've felt sort of badly that my husband and I don't have regular date nights. We have three children and not many babysitting options. I realized, however, that we don't "need" a regular date night! You are absolutely right. :) We love to go on dates, but...well...every day sort of feels like a date. We talk all the time, we make a point doing things together and we don't plan lots of evening activities. After the kids go to bed, that's our time together! We keep our kids on a pretty strict bedtime schedule, especially when they're really little, because we need that time to hang out just the two of us. :)


At 6:19 PM , Blogger Kari said…

Thanks for this post! I, too, have always felt a little guilty that we don't really do regular date nights. But with three kids four and under and an illness that makes doing activites almost impossible, our favourite times are just spending quality time together once the kids are sleeping! :). My husband and I really enjoy each other's company, and we spend time catching up every evening, plus I get to see him when he comes home for lunch every day. Date nights are definitely appreciated when we have the chance, but we are both really happy with the way things work right now! :)


At 7:24 PM , Blogger Renee said…

This year two of our girls have dance lessons Tuesdays over the supper hour, and the other daughter teaches piano at that same time, so we have been going out for dinner - it keeps the house quiet for the piano lessons. I think it's the first time we've been so regular with a date night. I love it!


At 8:20 AM , Anonymous Tom said…

I think that when most "experts" suggest a date night it's because the couple has forgotten to find/make the time to have time just the two of them. So a regular/required date night is an easy way to start the process and to show how important the relationship is.

I do also agree that "couple only" time is ABSOLUTELY critical to the long term success/blessings/bliss of a marriage. So, however you get to that couple time, DO IT!

Remember, the best time to tell your mate that you love them is...... before someone else does :)


At 12:23 AM , Blogger The Happy Domestic said…

You know, my husband and I instituted a weekly "date night" (just time alone together) when we first got married. Back then it was almost redundant, since we had no children and spent lots of time together, but we wanted to set a precedent for the rest of our marriage. After having kids, it became a real luxury (since I was housebound most of the time) to get out of the house with my sweetheart. Now with a house FULL of kids we have to work together all the time just to manage our many responsibilities, and often date nights are a bit of a letdown since it's our one chance to sit down and strategize for the coming week - not really romantic time together. That being said, we also have a weekend away from all our kids once a month, and that tends to be when we really connect and do fun things together. I think when our family life is less involved we will have less frequent getaways, and date nights will be more about us.

The crux of all this, in my opinion, is to have some fun time together, however that works for you, and to make it regular enough that you can stay close. Treat marriage like a friendship that takes top priority and you just might find that your spouse is your best friend - with benefits! :)


At 1:34 AM , Anonymous Kate said…

We have four kids who are all teens now. We didn't really start date nights till our oldest who is now almost 20 was about 13 and able to watch the younger ones while we went to a quick dinner and maybe wal-mart. We talk each day when my husband comes home from work and spend as much time together as we can but we still love our weekly Friday night date. My husband is quick to tell people who ask us to do something on Friday nights that we can't cause it's our night together. Sometimes we have a more expensive dinner (which is about $30) and other times it might be a cheap taco or burger. It doesn't matter where we go it's having uninterrupted time to talk that is important to us.


At 11:07 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I would love a date night...The problem is more about the lack of common interests. My husband and I got married because we got pregnant. We're working on being in love and we're getting there. My husband became a Christian a little over a year ago, (which has helped our relationship a great deal) and I was already a Christian, though fallen, when we met (I got pregnant 6 months after we met).

It's still very hard to even find things to even talk about. We have so much trouble just having a conversation, and, as I said above, we can't seem to find common interests - or at least ones that don't cost any money (we have a total of 5 kids - 2 per from previous marriages and our daughter - and one income).

If anyone has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.


At 3:23 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I agree that just spending time with my husband hanging out, doing non-date like things is nice. Tonight tho, I realised I actually do like going OUT with him on a real date, getting dressed up, the excitement of going out, being in a new place, a new environment, a nice change from the same old everyday. I hope and pray my marriage contains lots of dates. This is what I like and it looks a bit humdrum to me to face a life of just staying at home without dates out with my husband, my love.

Before we were married, he was awesome at organising great times out for us both. Now that we are married, I am the one who seems to drive it, which I don't like as much. It doesn't seem important or so desirable to my husband. Tho I still prefer to go out. I think it's important that we both make the effort to go out.

Has anyone else found that since being married the dating has dropped right off?

We are soon to have our first baby, and I pray we will have times out, just the two of us, on enjoyable dates. I really miss this from our pre-married days.

Please pray for our marriage, I really see the spark is so important to bring life to a relationship, and I hope and pray God fans it into flame again.

Thanks for the post, the comments and for reading


At 3:28 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

To anonymous who got pregnant, would you enjoy taking all the kids out to a park with your husband and throwing or kicking a ball around?

Could you google cheap date ideas on the internet? I have looked for date ideas and inspiration on the internet, and there are some good suggestions. You could even search for ideas appropriate for your area and conditions.

Hope this helps. God bless

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Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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