We said it was coming. We talked a bit last time about Date Night – what it is, why we think it is a great thing to keep relationships healthy, and what we’re going to do about it.
So before we get into some of our dating
misadventures, we want to lay down some ground rules. Some are self-explanatory, some less so. We’ll go into a bit more detail after the list.
1 – No kids
It’s not a date if your kids are there. If you have kids, it’s going to be tough to get a babysitter and go out every Date Night, so think of things you can do in the house. Just make sure the little ones are tucked up in bed, and let them know they aren’t welcome to join you.
2 – No chores
Date Night is not there for you to look at your budget together, or do laundry, or sort out your blog header. Those things might need doing, but Date Night exists for you guys to spend time together, to remember all the things you love about each other. The laundry will wait.
3 – No social media
No tweeting. Or quickly checking your Facebook. Or texting. Or calling your mum. Tonight is about you and your spouse. Nothing says, ‘I’d rather be elsewhere’ than engaging more with your phone than the person next to you.
4 – Talk to each other
Now that you’ve removed some of the barriers, get to talking. If there’s any night of the week to talk about your feelings, hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, whatever, then it’s Date Night. Sure, it’s nice to relax and catch a movie together sometimes, but if you aren’t talking then you aren’t dating.
5 – Do something different
So, you like eating steak and watching movies? Great, we all do (except vegetarians). But there are a million and one other dates out there. Doing something that’s new for both of you creates a shared experience that’s all yours. And planning something a bit out-of-the-box shows your partner that you’ve put in a bit of thought and effort, which makes them feel special. Win.
6 – Take turns planning
This gives you both a chance to make the other feel special. It also reduces the chance of one person feeling like they’re doing all the work, and it increases your chances of having a varied date repertoire.
7 – Put it on the calendar
Serious. Get the calendar. Put it on.
We sit down at the start of every month and put in our Date Nights. We aim for one a week. Then we fit everything else in around it. By doing that we’re saying to each other, ‘Yes, we have loads of stuff to do, but we are both committing to put the health of our marriage before all the other stuff.’
8 – Don’t cancel
Conversely, cancelling Date Night says, ‘Having a strong, healthy marriage sounds great, but it’s not as important to me as going to the pub with my friends.’ And we don’t want that, right?
Sounds harsh, I know. But we try not to cancel Date Night, even for things which are really good. Because then it gets easier to cancel for things which are just pretty good. And then for things which are just kind of good. And then for anything at all.
9 – Save conflict for tomorrow
Airing your grievances, and handling conflict maturely and sensitively, is super important in marriage. But it’s not usually fun. You can schedule in another time to argue and talk about what’s bothering you about your spouse (I’m serious), but tonight is Date Night.
10 – Have fun
Because marriage should be fun! It isn’t fun 24/7, but if you’re going to be married to this person for the rest of your life (and we’re aiming for our 80 year anniversary), then you should invest in having fun together.
And there you go. Those are some rules we’ve come up with, based on wisdom we’ve gained from friends and mentors, and a few that we’ve nicked from The Marriage Course, which we’ll talk about another time.
We don’t always get it right, but we’re committed to keep trying because we think Date Night can make a huge difference to how our marriage is doing.
What do you guys think? Too harsh? Any we’ve missed?
Let us know in the comments. And happy dating!