The other day, Pearson and I were watching The Dating Divas' free webinar, Divorce Proof Your Marriage (an introduction to their Reclaim Your Marriage program). During the webinar, Tara talked about how she had quit dating her spouse and created The Dating Divas during the process of getting back into the habit of dating her husband.
At that point, Pearson asked, "what constitutes a 'date'?" And I have to admit, it was a difficult one to answer. I told him that I think a date has to be planned. But that brought up the question, "how far in advance does it need to be planned?" We had gone to Walmart to run an errand together that Saturday and then went to Arby's for lunch on the way home. We considered whether that would be a date or not. My first reaction was no because it wasn't planned. But then I said yes because I could have gone to Walmart by myself but I asked him to come with me and he stopped playing his video game to join me. Also, we were on a mission together, we had fun, and we stayed at Arby's longer than usual just talking.
A few days later, we went to Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream. We were trying to find something to do and decided to try a different Jeni's location that we had never been to. We drove out there, got some ice cream and sat down to eat it. We talked and connected and then we walked around the area a bit before getting back in the car to drive home. Neither of us even had our phones with us. I considered that a date too, even though it was planned very last minute.
There's nothing wrong with spontaneous date nights. And there's nothing wrong with simply "hanging out" or having a "date lifestyle" as Amberly talks about in her post on my blog today. But I think it's so important to plan a regular date night.
In my opinion, here are four characteristics that a date should have for it to be considered a date!
It's different from your everyday routine.
A date needs to be something to look forward to. I think it's ok for a date night to become somewhat of a routine, as in every Friday we have a date. But it needs to be different from what you did on Thursday.
It's perfectly okay to stay home for date night, but like I said in my last point, you shouldn't be doing the same thing you did on Thursday (or any other day of the week). So if on Thursday you made a special dinner and watched your current Netflix binge, maybe on Friday you'll take a break from your current binge and watch a fun, romantic movie. And maybe you'll eat dinner before turning the TV on so you can have a deep conversation. A date doesn't always have to mean getting dressed up, going out and spending tons of money. Although, those kind of dates are important too.
You focus on each other.
That may look different for everyone, but for me it means minimal distractions. Specifically, no phones. Even when we're watching Netflix, I usually have my phone or computer out, but not when we're watching Netflix as "date night". Regularly dating your spouse gives you the chance to connect on a deep level. it allows you to grow in your relationship and not fall into a rut.
It breaks up the monotony.
Date night allows you to break up your routine and opens up more conversation. I love trying new things with my husband. Learning together and discovering together brings us closer to each other.
So the bottom line here is that for something to be considered a date, it needs to be different from your normal routine and planned at least a little bit in advance.
I always say you need to write down date night in your planner in pen and treat it like a business meeting that you would never flake on. I know that's difficult sometimes. Especiallly when your husband has irregular hours an you don't know when he'll be home until he calls you from the car on the way home (like mine). But it's still so important that you both put importance on date night and make it happen even if your specific plans need to be flexible.