“Date nights are so important for your marriage.”
If you’ve been married longer than a minute, you have probably heard that slice of advice before. When the kids come along, you hear that date night prescription even more.
Date nights for married couples ARE important. Dedicating time for the two of you can help you focus on each other when life gets crazy and busy. It’s an extremely beneficial practice for maintaining a healthy marriage.
It’s not easy.
First, there’s finding the time! With responsibilities inside and outside the home for both Mom and Dad, finding a time for a date night is challenging!
Then, there’s the childcare. Of course, you’ll have to budget the funds for the date AND the babysitter. And then there’s the question of what to do.
Maybe you decide to go the traditional route. You find yourselves sitting across from each other at an actual grown-up restaurant…wondering what in the world to talk about.
Believe me, after 13 years and 4 kids, my husband and I have been there. We LOVE to spend time together but date night is hard to manage!
Recognizing the importance of prioritizing my husband and our marriage, I put together a gift basket for him–for both of us really–that will guarantee that we spend at least 12 wonderful evenings together this year.
A Date for Every Month!
Since dates can be budget-straining, babysitters aren’t always easy to come by, and often they need to leave earlier than we are ready to go home, I planned for us to have:
4 At-Home Dates
4 Leave the Kids with a Babysitter Dates and
4 Send the Kids to Grandma’s Dates
I pre-planned each date, purchased any materials that would be needed, and packaged it up in an envelop to be opened each month. Now all we have to do is coordinate calendars each month and activate the plan!
Make Your Own Year of Date Nights
Dating is unique for each couple. What works for us may not be exaclty what works for you, but I am sure this concept will benefit you as well! Here are some ideas to get you going:
Build a Fire in the Fireplace or Outdoor Fire Pit. Pour some wine. Discuss your goals for the next year.
Put Together a Puzzle. When your hands are occupied, it’s easier to talk. Put on a great podcast to get a conversation going and then switch to music you both love.
Adult Coloring Books. These are all the rage! Channel your inner child and destress with some contemplative coloring. Put on the music from your high school years and reminisce.
How Well Do You Know Your Spouse? I love these little books. They’re way cheaper than a night out and loads of fun! There’s 100 questions on both trivial and important things. I say, work through 10 questions, see who got the most answers. Winner gets a 10 minute massage! Then play again.
Game Night! Pull out those board games collecting dust in the closet. Need a game for two? Check out this post of 20 Great 2-Player Games.
Wedding Romance. Watch your wedding video or look through your photos. Serve foods that were served at your reception. Talk about how you would do it differently now. Bonus points if you wear white!
Photo Session. As a photographer, this sounds more like work to me now, but there was a time when it was a blast! Plan your photo shoot, pose your subject (each other) and take turns modeling for the camera.
Massage at Home. Watch the free lesson on Melt and practice your new and improved massage skills with each other. Plan two date nights–one for his massage and one for hers!
Going Out Dates
Sushi and Shopping. Try one of our local sushi restaurants. Then browse your favorite store together. As lame as it sounds, I have heard from so many couples with kids that a trip to the grocery store is fun when it’s just the two of you! Stop in Fresh and pick up a pastry to end your date with dessert…or breakfast.
Target Challenge. Grab a latte and hit the aisles in a crazy couples scavenger hunt! Or buy a gift for each other, but it has to be something they would use/wear/eat right away and under $10.
Get Active. Try an active date like bowling, golf, laser tag, or iJump! Get your bloodflow going.
Visit the Planetarium. Check out this Valentine’s day event! Or art museum or symphony. Get your culture on!
Traditional Dinner and Movie. There’s no shame in taking this classic out for a spin.
Fancy Dress Date. Put on your finest clothes and go to town! Try one of the area’s top restaurants. Pretend you’re a Food Network critic and discuss your opinions.
Theatre. There’s nothing like the stage. You’ve probably thought about attending a live show but never gotten around to it. Plan it. Do it!
Double Date. Plan a photo scavenger hunt with another couple. Each team (couple) has to complete the list before meeting for dinner. First to the restaurant wins! Loser buys dessert!
Couples Massage. Enjoy the benefits of massage and the skilled hands of a massage therapist together for a relaxing way to connect.
Coffee Shop. Sometimes all you have time for is a cup of coffee. Try out one of the local coffee shops. See who picked the better beverage.
Sometimes we have a plan for an at-home date that needs a little more time than we get after the kids go to bed. Sometimes we want a night away.
Total Trilogy Time! Have you ever wanted to watch the entire trilogy of your favorite multi-part movie in one day? If it’s something you both love, why not go all out and make a date of it!
Slumber Party. Bust out the sleeping bags and popcorn! Set up camp in your living room. Put on your pajamas and get ready for the best game of Truth or Dare you’ve ever played.
Get Away! Plan a date away from home. We take an overnight trip about once a year even if we can’t go anywhere far. Staying in a hotel really clears your head of your daily responsibilities.
Glow-in-the-dark Party. Save this for when the kids are gone or they’ll get jealous. Bust out the glow sticks, necklaces, bracelets and more. Try a black light. Challenge yourselves to eat dessert in the dark. Put on some dance music and go crazy.
Movie Theme Night. Pick a movie and go all out with the theme! Cook the food from the country where the movie takes place. Decorate your room. Costumes? Up to you! Go as big or small as you like. The point is to make it special and fun. Do the planning, shopping, and cooking together for an even closer experience.
What Makes a Great Date?
As you put together your 12 Months of Dating, there are a few things to consider for a successful evening. Your date should include:
An Activity to Enjoy Together. Ideally, something you both like to do, but there’s nothing wrong with sacrificing a little for the sake of the relationship. If he loves golf, maybe you could suffer through a few holes. If you love art, drag him to the museum! 🙂 Sharing our interests with each other is one way most couples connect in their pre-marital dating, so it makes sense to try it out after your walk down the aisle.
Something to Talk About. Planning a conversation starter in advance can really ease the awkwardness of married dating. Yeah, I said it. It can get awkward. This person that you count on like your right hand is suddenly commanding your undivided attention. And you aren’t used to having their full attention. Break the ice with a pre-planned question or topic and you’ll soon find yourself deep in conversation with the one you love.
A Transition to Married Time. As a woman, a date without an enjoyable activity or a connecting conversation is a total drag. It’s unimaginable. Being together and talking and laughing and sharing IS the date. That’s what makes me feel connected to my husband. For men, it’s not the same. Your man needs to feel loved through the physical expression of your marriage. You may plan the perfect outing, talk for hours, and feel like you’ve got the best marriage in the world, but if you come home exhausted and collapse into dreamland, your husband is going to be irritated to say the least. Think ahead! For women, we (sometimes) have to consciously make an effort to think about sex before the date in order to be excited about it. Plan that transition into your themed dates so you are both satisfied.
Date Nights ARE so important for your marriage!
Maybe the advice is true, but it doesn’t sound fun when you think of it as “so important”. Let go of any guilt from that statement. Forget about “prioritizing weekly date nights” and just plan some fun together! Remember, this is not about checking off some box on your Good Wife card. It’s about you and your husband. It’s about how you’ll have fun together and what you like to do!
I have made it easy by including these printable cards that you can use as they are or customize to suit your plans.
There’s a blank one at the end of those for you to customize or you can access it individually here.
Print them out and package them up with the necessary items for each date, and you’ve got a truly memorable Valentine’s Day gift.