After the bloom of first love, we often stop putting our best foot forward--and that includes making time for our partner. We become bogged down by the rigors of everyday life. We forget about the relationship that brought us together as a family.
According to OxfordDictionaries.com, date night is a prearranged occasion on which an established couple, especially one with children, go for a night out together. But can one regularly scheduled night out with your partner really make a difference? Perhaps.
1. The marriage or partnership is the foundation of the home:
A report released by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia in 2012 proposed that date nights are an important way for couples to spend much-needed time by themselves. The report goes on to say that date nights “may be particularly valuable” during this day and age when couples “expect high levels of intimacy, communication and personal fulfillment” from their relationships.
By using date nights to strengthen or rekindle the romantic spark, we are building upon the foundation already established when we initially committed to our partner.
2. Both partners need it:
We need to remember why we came together as a couple. We need to connect-- emotionally, spiritually and physically. One day (perhaps in the not-so-distant future) our kids will be grown and we will be sitting next to someone that we may not know very well unless we are constantly in contact with one another.
Recently in Norway, the new Minister for Children, Equality and Social Inclusion, Solveig Horne, said the government needed to cut the 40% divorce rate and that encouraging couples to try date nights was a good place to start: "It is important to find small pockets of time where parents can be lovers," she said.
The day-to-day measures of family and work life don’t give us the opportunity to engage in deeper conversation, to connect as people that are both lovers and friends nor to embrace each other as companions with hopes and dreams. Use the date night for just that purpose.
3. The kids need to see it:
Our relationship sets the example for our children. They see it. They learn from it. The habits that we develop and put into place are becoming part of our children’s existence as well. They watch our commitment and see it in action. Therefore, when we prioritize the marriage, they learn safety and security and embrace that lesson in their own lives. In the words of Robert Fulghum, “Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
4. Fight boredom:
Boredom is an oft-given reason given for divorce. It’s a result of being uninterested and uninteresting. But it is also a common refrain that can be overcome by getting out of your rut. Make time for fun! Date nights that involve a special occasion, extra grooming time or a surprise event garner extra anticipation, an antidote to boredom. The investment need not be monetary. Elaborate entertainment is a temporary fix. Plus, the worries of spending exorbitant amounts of money can cause concern. Don’t focus on the expenditure. Focus on breaking the routine.
5. We deserve it!
The rigors of real life get old. Working, shopping, cooking, lawn care, parenting, bill paying and all the other chores involved in daily life become mundane in time. We all need time separate and apart from the pressures of ordinary life. It’s the same theory as a vacation. No one disputes the benefit of a regular vacation. It refreshes and reenergizes you. The same can be said for a regular date night. It’s a time to relax and enjoy adult companionship.
The 2012 National Marriage Project Report mentions date night initiatives launched by numerous civic and religious organization in communities across the United States. Even in my own community, churches have gotten involved by providing babysitting services so that couples can enjoy a night out. Don’t be scared off by the idea of expense. Low cost and no cost options exist. Often recreating a date night from dating days past is a low cost and sentimental way to make partners feel important and worthwhile.
Essentially, it is not necessarily the when or where of the “date night” that is essential to its success but rather the commitment to the partnership that brought you together as a family. Surprise one another. Stay within a budget. Do something you both enjoy. Most importantly, put it on your calendar.