A while back we were asked if we had some guidelines for marriage dates posted on the Marriage Missions web site. This wife wrote that she thought some guidelines would help her and her husband enjoy their date nights better. So I put together a few guidelines for her that have worked for Steve and me.
However, in praying about it, I felt nudged to put more effort into finding out what has worked for others, as well. Above all, we want to encourage and make it as easy as possible for married couples to keep dating each other. We believe it’s that important! So here goes!
Reasons for Marriage Dates
Before we go into the guidelines we will give you two reasons that marriage dates are important. On this noteworthy issue, marriage experts, Dave and Claudia Arp write:
“Show us a marriage that is faltering, and we’ll show you a marriage where the fun is gone. And where the fun is gone, there is a good chance they don’t date their mate! Dating is something they did before they got married. It’s not in their marriage vocabulary today.”
However, it needs to be. It’s important to keep creating and stockpiling good memories together as a husband and wife. It’s something that can help us to get through the tough times. Additionally, here’s something that Lee Wilson says on this issue:
“Married life obviously brings stresses that dating life does not. You might even say that dating life is more like a dream and married life is the real world. It’s true we can’t keep everything that we liked about dating in a marriage. But we can keep many of the things that led us to marriage in the first place. …After all, that’s what won the heart of your spouse. And that’s what will probably continue to win their heart. If things aren’t going well in your marriage, try going back to the beginning. You might be surprised how much your relationship improves.” (From the article, Marriage: It’s Not Dating Anymore)
So here are a few guidelines to help you as you build good memories together in continuing to date each other:
GUIDELINES FOR MARRIAGE DATES
First of all, realize that these guidelines are not commandments. So, read, glean, and see what you and your spouse can use. The purpose of these marriage dates is not to be legalistic and formal in how you approach these important events. If these guidelines help… GREAT! If not, then do what DOES work for you. And if you can pass along any tip to help others… that would also be great! Just post your tips on this Insight on this web site. Next:
♥ Be intentional in finding a way to date each other.
“Spouses can give all kinds of excuses as to why they can’t date each other after marrying. ‘We can’t afford a babysitter, and we can’t afford to go to dinner once a week.’ It’s easy to conclude that if you can’t go out often, you may as well not go out at all. But once a month is better than never. Look for creative ways around your tight budget. For instance, choose one night a week to get the kids in bed early, put a pizza in the oven, and enjoy an after-dinner bath together. Ask the church youth director to organize a free babysitting service project for students. Pick up dinner at a fast-food restaurant and head to the local park. Time together doesn’t have to be expensive.” (Mitch Temple, an author of the book, The First Five Years of Marriage)
FYI: If you need it, here’s a link to an article that could help you to find a babysitter:
♥ Take turns being the one in charge of planning your marriage dates.
Here’s what Joe and Amberly Lambert say about this guideline:
“We sat down and took time to map out who was in charge of date night every week for a year. It was simple really—we just put two recurring events on our Google calendar and scheduled them for every other week. One event said, ‘Joe in charge of date night’ and the other said, ‘Amberly is in charge of date night.’ They popped up with a reminder on our phone in the middle of the week so we would remember to start planning. We paid special attention to things like our birthdays, anniversary and Valentine’s, and shifted things accordingly.” (From their article, Guidelines We’ve Set to Make Our Date Nights Count)
Furthermore, Wesley Wiley adds this insight:
“One spouse shouldn’t carry the weight of planning date night every time. Taking turns will keep it fun for both of you. And make sure to plan ahead…5:00 pm the day of is not the best time to start planning. I have been guilty of this and it makes a fun process stressful.” (From his article, “The Five Rules of Date Night”)
FYI: We have numerous ideas posted in the Romantic Ideas topic of this web site, which we keep adding to regularly, for the “romantically challenged” spouse.
♥ “Don’t put too much pressure on your marriage dates.”
“Weekly date night is not the time to make (or expect some grand gesture). The purpose of date night is to get out of your home and reconnect on a very basic level. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the planning, execution or expectation of a spectacular night of surprises and big events, that the actual date can overshadow the most important part: connecting. Plus, the more effort you put into planning every detail, there is more than can go wrong. Take the pressure off…” (Joanna, from the article, “5 Important Rules of Date Night with My Husband”)
It may be that:
“One spouse thinks dates are unnecessary, while one wants the special time together. Some people get hung up on the term ‘Date’ thinking its hokey. Some husbands and/or wives can even dig their heels in and refuse to play along. This is when you must study your spouse more to know how to enjoy time together on their terms. If the phrase ‘date night’ is a turn-off for your spouse, call it something else. The point is to make time to make time together as a couple. This is the friendship side of your relationship that holds all the other sides together. Do something you both enjoy on a regular basis and watch how it supports you both when things are hard.” (Debi Walter, from her article, 4 Tips to Avoid This Frustration)
♥ “Ban all distractions.”
“Friends and children (however much we love them) do not belong on date night. Neither do mobile phones, Blackberries or anything else that will interrupt your time together. Even if you are staying in for your date night at home, make sure the computer is turned off and the mobile phones are put away. Just for a few hours, make your time together sacred. Your relationship will thank you for it.” (Emma Merkas, from the article, “How to Do Date Night Right”)
Guidelines for marriage dates from The Dating Divas:
“Take your phone along if you have kids and need to stay in contact with them, but under no circumstances are you allowed to use your phone for other types of calls, texts or emails while you are on a date! Plan your date so that you can devote 100% of your time to each other and not worry with work or other distractions.” (From: “Date Night Rules”)
♥ “Bring your ‘A’ game.”
“This is a date with the most important person in your life! It deserves your full focus and best effort. Imagine how you felt and prepared when you were first dating years ago. Comb your hair, brush your teeth, and get ‘ready’! Plan for it to be a good time, as much as it is in your ability, and make it fun. Romans 12:10 says to try to outdo each other in showing honor. Try to outdo each other in giving each other a good date!” (Becky, from the article, “Making the Most of Your Marriage Date Nights”)
♥ Mix it up as to when you schedule your date.
“The idea of date night turns off many early bird couples. If mornings suit you better, make plans earlier in the day — like a leisurely breakfast out or a sunrise walk in the park.” (Good Housekeeping Magazine, from their article, “8 Great-Date Guidelines”)
♥ “Date night does not have to occur at night.”
“While I personally like the way ‘date night’ sounds, date night can actually be in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening. A morning date may be a cup of coffee together, an afternoon might include a walk in the park, and an evening date may mean dinner. Pick a day and time that works well for you and your spouse.
“Some of my favorite dates with my hubby is an afternoon drinking coffee and reading. It’s a joy of ours to read ‘alone but together’ and occasionally glance at one another, touch each other’s hands, share a new snack, or talk about something interesting from the book. And, when we leave the coffee shop, we often talk about something meaningful or interesting from the book. For us, reading is a great way to pave the way for greater connection.” (Dr. Jessica McCleese, from her article, “How to Have a Great Date Night”)
♥ Marriage Dates can be planned for going out somewhere or staying home together.
You can enjoy your marriage dates together at night or during the morning or day. You also can enjoy going out together, or planning your time together at home. We have ideas for different ways you can plan both in the Romantic Ideas topic.
♥ “Issues are off limits.”
“Date night is not time for ‘discussion’ or therapy. It is not a venue to air your grievances. It is a time to enjoy each other’s company and get to know each other more intimately. No hot button topics, no finishing fights. It is tempting when you get so little time alone together to use date nights as the time to make decisions and talk things out, but avoid the temptation.” (Sharla Kostelyk, from the article, “The Date Night Rules”)
♥ “Keep it light.”
“Conversations about housekeeping (whose car needs new tires) or problems (‘What’s up with Mikey’s math grades?’) are off-limits.” (From the Good Housekeeping article, “8 Great-Date Guidelines”)
Here’s what David and Claudia Arp suggest:
“Don’t talk about your kids. Chances are you already spent more of your other time together talking about them, so temporarily forget about the kids. Don’t chat about the in-laws who are always a potential subject for a fight. Don’t go there. And don’t discuss money. For a lot of couples, this is a tense topic. Avoid it on dates!” (From “The Complete Marriage Book”)
Becky adds this tip:
“Let this be a time to enjoy each other and to have fun! Hard conversations should take place at another time. No lists of issues, complaints or nagging. Focus on the good, on ideas for your future, about what’s going on in your life. Use the time to express your love and encourage each other. Leave little issues at home.” (From the article, “Making the Most of Your Marriage Date Nights”)
♥ “Focus on Fun on your marriage dates.”
“Date night is NOT the time to deal with ‘issues’ in your marriage or with the kids. Keep your date night sacred…if it’s not a fun conversation it’s off limits…period.” (Wesley Wiley, from his article, “The Five Rules of Date Night”)
♥ “You must communicate with each other during the event.”
“You might think this goes without saying, but how many couples think dinner and a movie is a great date night. Don’t get me wrong; we do it too. It is easy and there are so many great movies out there we will never have time to see them all. Once in a while I think it is okay to see a movie. But you have to admit there is not much interaction that happens between spouses during a movie. Interaction and conversation is a must for date night to be fulfilling. …We need to re-connect with each other. Strengthen our bond and support each other during this special time together.” (Kelly Hutchins, from the article, “Marriage Essence: Date Night Rules!“)
♥ “The date doesn’t end at the front door.”
“Let this be one perk of being married—there’s never a dilemma as to whether or not to let him in at the end of the date. Go ahead and finish off the date through the next morning! Wake up the next day gleaming over how great the date was and talking about how much you look forward to the next…for old times sake. Then…back to reality!” (Ari, from her Lovepeaceandtinyfeet.com article, “5 Rules for Date Night”)
We hope those guidelines will help you as you look to date your mate. Remember, the purpose is to enjoy, enjoy, enjoy each other during these marriage dates.
In closing we’ll leave you with one last thought, and then two links to marriage dates that you may want to use. First, if you have children, here’s something to prayerfully consider:
“A long-term benefit of dating your spouse is the model you set in place for your children. One of the best ways we can demonstrate love to our children is by expressing affection to our mates. When children have observed their parents placing priority on dating and romance, they will carry that expectation into their own significant relationships. Kids need to see quality, loving relationships in a world where those aren’t the norm.
“It’s not uncommon for kids to fear their parents will get a divorce —half of their friends are children of divorce, and many kids think it’s only a matter of time before it happens to their family. Your dating can relieve a tremendous amount of pressure from your children and most of all set an example they will never forget.” (Doug Fields)
Lastly, for your marriage dates:
Here are links to a few dating ideas you may enjoy using on your marriage dates:
In addition, here are a few more games you can enjoy: Steve and I enjoy playing the Farkel Game, and the Phase 10 Card Game together. We aren’t competitive people, so for us it’s a casual, relaxing and fun time for us.
We hope you find all of this helpful so you can enjoy your marriage dates to the max!
Cindy and Steve Wright
— PLUS —
We talk about the marriage dating issue and so much more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:
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Filed under: Romantic Ideas