What is the key to marriage? The answer, according to John Mordecai Gottman, a professor emeritus in psychology who is known for his work on marital stability, is friendship. Therefore, you might ask yourself, “How can I keep, build and maintain friendship in my marriage?” One method is to make time for each other with date nights. Here are some things to consider when planning a date night, based on discussions I have had with couples I counsel.
How often should you go on a date?
Some couples may prefer frequent, short dates (about a half-hour) to reconnect instead of a longer date, which might be a few weeks away.
Discuss with your spouse how often you want to plan date night and make it an appointment on your calendar. I find that couples who establish date night as an appointment are more likely to keep the time set aside for themselves. I explain to couples: “Just like you don’t cancel a doctor’s appointment, you need to ensure you keep this appointment, too. Your relationship is just as important as any appointment.”
How can you ensure the date is productive to the relationship?
I recommend that couples turn off their cell phones because then they can focus on each other without interruption. If children or someone very important needs to reach you, I suggest setting up a code ahead of time to indicate that the call is urgent, such as texting “311.” (“I can’t find anything I like to eat in the house” is not urgent.)
Also, I recommend that you plan the date, so you can have fun and connect. When couples get in the car and start discussing where they want to go, this can lead to frustration. Stay away from: “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know.” “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know.”
In addition, I suggest that you agree to leave the business issues at home and make your date a time to bond.
Some of the biggest challenges on a date are time and expense. Babysitters can cost an average of $10 per hour. When added to a $30 dinner, a date can be cost-prohibitive. Ideas?
To save money, find a friend that you trust. They can watch your kids twice a month, and you can watch their children in exchange.
Also, not all fun costs a lot of money. Go on a hike or take a long drive. The possibilities are many.
The bottom line is that you make your marriage a priority by taking time to nurture it.
Lisa (Elisheva) Rabinowitz is a local licensed clinical professional counselor. She can be reached at 410-736-8118 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her suggestions are for couples in healthy relationships and exclude those in abusive relationships.