We've made date night a priority in our marriage, but if I'm being honest, our date night ideal has been on the back-burner for the past few years. My schooling, our home renovations, two different pregnancies, the newborn stage twice, a premature infant, struggles with feeding my children, trying to grow a business, etc. There are so many things that we have come through together, and although we've been successful with our date moments and even having date night while in the NICU with Emmy, date night isn't as much of a habit for us as it should be.
Some weeks still go by when intentional quality time doesn't happen, even if I've been thinking about it all week and working to come up with ideas of what we could do together. So I've decided that we need a date night reset, to reevaluate what we're doing and if we have one activity each week that meets our date night standards.
How to Make Date Night a Habit in Your Marriage Again
After we've completed and discussed our evaluation, we're going to do the following:
Set a Goal
Goals are so motivating to me, especially when I set them with my husband. Deciding together that we want to make date night happen is so empowering. The important think to remember about goals is to make them S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time based). An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal for date night might be: We will plan and go on two kid free date nights each calendar month. For us, this goal is S.M.A.R.T. because it's very specific in the number and type and time frame; we can easily measure whether it's happening or not; it's achievable based on babysitting availability, our schedules and the budget we've set; it is relevant to what we are trying to do and we have a point where we can sit down and determine whether or not the goal has been met.
After we've achieved this goal for a few months in a row, we can evaluate again and determine your next goal based on your needs. Some other goals that we've thought about setting for the future are planning date a month that doesn't include food, using a coupon any time we go out, trying restaurants outside of our norm 50% of the time, etc.
If date night isn't already a regular tradition in your marriage, setting a huge goal to go on a four hour date every single week and hoping to accomplish that right away is going to lead to some disappointment. By setting a S.M.A.R.T. goal, you will (hopefully) maintain realistic expectations and not give up on date night when you don't meet your own expectations right away. Start out committing to one more elaborate date night plan a month and work your way toward whatever that ideal date night schedule looks like.
Maybe your schedules are opposite and out of control, so you can only really commit to one date night a month, but you make a point to find time each week to do something fun and simple together each week. Playing games, making a dessert, or any other activity that you plan for intentional quality time can be a date.
Communication is key with anything in marriage, even something fun like date night. Sit down together and talk about your expectations for date night, how often it should happen, what "rules" you will have and what your date night activities will look like. If you are on the same page, it will be easier to achieve your date night goals and you'll have more fun in the process.
The best thing that I ever did for date night was planning our activities in advance. Every month I sit down and plan out what we want to do each week for date night. This allows us to get sitters lined up early, we have something to look forward to and we can go into each week with date night in mind. The weeks when we don't have a plan are usually the ones when we find ourselves asking each other, "What do you want to do?" at 8pm after the kids are in bed. And those nights turn into just another night, and we end up doing the exact same thing that we do every night.
If you're really set on being intentional in dating each other throughout your marriage, you need to plan. Spontaneous dates are fun, and we have our fair share of those, but you can expect every week to be spontaneous and exciting. If you do, date night will more than likely not happen. Planning ahead will also help you reach your date night goals! If we plan, we can pick our kid-free-date activities and make sure that we have our schedules free. Sometimes our plans change, but we have that night set aside for each other and that's all that matters.
When your scheduled time for date night arrives, be sure to have lots of fun! Set your phones aside, forget about the stresses of life, hold hands and just enjoy being together. If date night doesn't go exactly as planned, don't worry about it! Planning is helpful, but in cases like this, trying to hard to stick to the details of your plan can make things more stressful. As long as you have a babysitter, the kids are in bed and you're doing something intentional together, you're set!
Date night and quality time are so important to a marriage. When you work to make your dates more of what you want them to be, they will come easily and it won't feel like a challenge to make them happen. The ideas for what to do while you're together will flow freely, you'll know where to look for all of the fun events and you'll never run out of things to make date night exciting. Even if you're on a budget, have kids that you can't leave, or feel like you're never home at the same time, you can make date night a habit. If it's important to you, you will make it happen.
What are you doing for date night this weekend?
Photography by Emily Jane Photography