Friday, December 16, 2011

Why Date Night Is Important

Tonight is date night. Once the brownies are out of the oven, we'll be off to dinner and a movie (Mexican and the new Sherlock Holmes to be precise.) I'm excited. I worked extra earlier in the week so I could take the afternoon off and be able to rest before we headed out (we took a nap together, which we both desperately needed). So back to the excited thing, as I told my coworkers about my plans for the evening, I think I got a few sly looks. It seems as if they didn't understand why I would be so excited and insistent about leaving on time for date night.

Every couple needs date night. If you and your spouse don't do date night, you should. Here's why.

Research shows that a large portion of marital satisfaction can be traced back to two broad areas:
1. Does the couple spend time together outside of the tasks of marriage (maintaining the house, work, child-rearing, and sex)?
2. Does each spouse believe that they are important to and a priority for the other?

If the answer is yes to these questions, the couple is more likely to be satisfied in the marriage than if an answer is no. (This is a summary of several different theories/research.)

This is why date nights are so important. Here are the keys to a successful date night (from my perspective):

You must engage in something that you both enjoy. If it's one person's hobby and the other is just tagging along, that doesn't count. If you go out to eat at her favorite restaurant, and he can't stand it, that doesn't count. For instance, tonight we're going out for Mexican. Now, I usually do not like Mexican food all that much. However, I've really wanted a steak quesadilla all week. So, I suggested a local Mexican restaurant that I know Philip likes. He gets to eat someplace he really likes, that we don't go very often, and I get my quesadilla.

The next important aspect of date night is intentionality. Philip and I spend plenty of time together and we often go out to eat or do something with one another, but on date nights, we specifically set that time aside just for the other person. We naturally answer yes to that first question and date night helps us to show one another the answer to question two is also yes. It's not date night if I open up the meat for dinner and it smells bad. It's date night because we decided ahead of time that that evening was reserved for one another. Unless an emergency occurs that stops you from having date night, it does not get cancelled, ever.

For those who have children there's always more to consider. If you can, get a sitter. If not, bring the kids with you. Nothing will be a better lesson for your children on how to treat a partner, or be treated, then seeing you and your spouse having a good relationship. Your children should see that you and your partner love one another and how you show that love. This teaches them (stronger than any words or lessons at church camp) how they should treat others, and how they should be treated.

One thing I hear a lot is that people can't afford a date night. I don't buy that. If you can afford to eat, you can afford date night. Have date night at home. Watch a movie and each frozen pizza. If you are spending time together and being intentional about it, that's date night.

So, the brownies are out of the oven. I'm going to get ready!