Date Night

• 23 January 2012

Have you ever noticed that the longer you are married or in a committed relationship, the messier the bedroom becomes and the less frequent you find yourselves out on a date?  Isn't it ironic that the most important relationship gets more or less tossed to the back burner and less pressing matters take center stage?  This is an interesting phenomenon I've thought a lot about in the past few years as I've observed couples pay less and less attention on each other (and more on hobbies, work and their children).  I've learned that scheduling time for date nights makes a sizable impact on the happiness and satisfaction you feel within your married relationship; this is particularly true if you have children.

If you have a trusted babysitter or family member nearby, why not call or text them right now and schedule a night out for the upcoming weekend?  If you don't have either, perhaps consider a babysitting swap with a friend.  Often good friends are just as helpful as family and chances are you have a trusted friend in the same boat.  Maybe one weekend night you tend her kiddos and then she tends yours on the other.  We actually participate in this type of babysitting swap at least once a month.  Date nights are far more relaxing when we don't have to worry about forking out $15/hour!  That being said, even if you don't have the opportunity to participate in a babysitting swap, "...recognize that a babysitter is cheaper than a divorce" (source).

Frequency of date nights is also important.  Making time for two dates each month is typically ideal for most couples.  If you have children, allow yourselves to spend some time discussing your children and their needs on one of the two monthly dates.  Then be sure to make that second date all about you and your spouse.  No kid talk allowed :)  If your spouse works extremely late hours and/or travels during the week, then you may want to consider upping your dates nights from twice monthly to once a week.  If you have budget constraints, then plan a date night "in" every now and again.  A movie and takeout enjoyed after the kids are in bed can be a lot of fun too! 

Here are some fun date night ideas beyond dinner and a movie, (which have their place mind you!), to jump start your next date night:

1.  a music-themed evening--the symphony, a jazz club or an outdoor concert are all interesting and provide a change of scenery. 

2.  hanging out in a bookstore together--I love the idea of holing up in the dark corner of a locally-owned bookstore, but often the only ones open at night are Barnes and Noble so we typically head there.

3.  dance lessons--I actually bought these on Groupon (which for the record has encouraged me to do so many things out-of-the-box), because I don't feel like my dancing skills have improved since middle school (shuffling around in a circle doesn't count as dancing, right?).  Deals on Living Social or Google Offers often offer similar activities. 

4.  stay outdoors--night skiing, a bike ride, a walk along the beach, a picnic on the lawn, and a carriage ride downtown, to name a few.

5. double dating--it's not just for high-schoolers :)  Especially when it comes to bowling, which we can technically make #6 :)

What are some of your date night ideas?

image snapped on an iPhone outside Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco's Mission District


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