When Joe and I first got married, our work schedules were completely opposite. I worked 8am-5pm at the office as well as eight to twelve hours at the salon on Saturdays. Joe worked mid-day shifts, usually from 11am until 8 or 9pm. He was also growing his lawn care business so he spent his mornings, his days off and a few evenings mowing lawns and doing other yard work. We were busy and only home and awake at the same time for a couple of hours a day.
By the time we were both home at the end of a day, we were tired and most date night locations were closing for the day. Finding time for date night seemed difficult, if not impossible. It took us a while to make intentional time together a priority, but once we decided that our date night habits needed to change, it happened. With a little bit of creativity, we were able to come up with ways to make more time for each other, and looking back, I feel silly that we weren't doing those things sooner.
I've heard from many couples that their current circumstances make it difficult to find time for a weekly or even monthly date night together. In my research while I was writing my date night book, I found that couples of every stage benefited from regular quality time and monthly date nights. So, just for you, the couple with the busy schedule, I have three tips that have helped us and that I know will help you to make date night happen more on a more regular basis in your marriage.
One of the biggest things that gets in the way of our weekly quality time/date nights is the fact that we don't have a plan. The week ends and I realize that we never set aside intentional time to work on our marriage. At the beginning of every week, during our family meeting, we talk about the week, set aside a tentative night for our date and discuss a few ideas if we don't have anything specific in mind. Some weeks we'll know exactly what we're doing because we have an event that has been planned for months, and other weeks our plan is set in stone a few minutes before our date starts. Having some semblance of a plan ensures that we spent intentional time together on a regular basis, no matter what our lives look like at the moment.
Keep it Simple
When I started writing my book, I had grand ideas of what date night should look like in our marriage. But a few months into my research, the way that we did date night changed. I used to think that date nights had to be big chunks of time spent doing something exciting. Whenever I made big plans, I usually came away feeling disappointed because my expectations weren't met, kids got sick so date night had to be cancelled, or one of them wouldn't fall asleep which interrupted whatever we were doing at home. We still make a point of spending one night a month out together, away from home and our kids, doing something that we wouldn't normally do together. But now, the rest of our dates are simple and our focus is on building our marriage rather than the grandness of the event. We might curl up on the couch to watch a movie together, spend some time dreaming about our future, or sharing a milkshake. Our date night activities are still special, intentional and something that we don't do every other night of the week, but by keeping things simple, we find more opportunities to date each other on a regular basis.
Take Advantage of Moments
When your schedules are busy or you rarely see each other, finding three hours each week to plan a date can feel impossible. With that obstacle, date night in general can seem impossible. I like to look for date moments in every day. Five minutes to sit out on the porch and look at the stars, half an hour to make and eat a treat together, an hour to relax in a warm bath or 15 minutes to play a quick card game. Find those moments in your lives every day and seize them! If you still don't think you have that time, spend a day tracking how much time you spend on your phone browsing social media. Your marriage relationship is more important than staying caught up on those status updates, give up some of your phone time and give it to your spouse to work on your marriage instead.
I always go back to the same quote that if it's important to you, you'll find time for it. If you are really determined to make your marriage a priority and spend time with your spouse, you will make it happen. Sit down together and talk about what things can be eliminated from your lives, what can be shifted to other times so that you have a greater block of time together and how you can make those moments that you do have count.
What will you do this week to date your spouse?