The Simplest Way to Reconnect in Marriage
Last night my husband and I went on a date. Our marriage mentor once said to us, “Go on a date every week of your life. The busier life gets, the more of a priority it needs to become.” As my husband and I have walked through so many changes, including moving to a new country and back, having two children, and renovating our home into a duplex, I’m so grateful we took that advice. In four years, we've rarely missed our weekly date night. Yes, there were short seasons were it simply could not be done, like freshly postpartum and in the midst of moving. But there was always the assumption we'd get back into our routine as soon as we could manage it.
It's tempting to think, "My spouse will love me no matter what, whether we go on dates or not." While this is true, relationships are not inert. They are growing constantly, whether it's growing in health and connection, or growing in disconnect and misunderstanding. We'll never know everything there is to know about any person, even our spouse. Marriage is a beautiful opportunity to continually pursue and learn about someone else for the rest of our lives.
Or you may be thinking, "We can stay connected, we'll just have talks after we get home from work or after the kids go to bed." But I think we all know that doesn't usually go according to plan. It's much easier to get into a robotic routine of chores and distraction after an already long day. Intentionally setting time aside for one another breaks the daily tasks cycle and gives us time to see the other person's face, hear their voice and their heart, and rebalance our communication. It also indicates to the other person that they are valuable, much more important to you than a hurried, "How was work today?" conversation over bath times and dirty dishes.
Sometimes our dates have been thoughtful, romantic and fancy. And sometimes, like last night, we go for a drive and talk about nothing important. When we first got married we wondered how we'd be able to afford a date every single week. Dinner, babysitters, movie tickets... that can really add up when it's happening four times every month! But I can assure you not every date needs to be expensive. Here are some ideas that turned out to be some of our most memorable times together.
If babysitters can't be procured:
Bring the kids to a restaurant with a playplace. They can play while you chat!
Go on a bike ride. Tuck kiddos into a trailer and pull them along behind while you get the chance to converse separately.
Consider swapping childcare with another like-minded couple. You can take their kids one night while they go out, and they'll take yours another night so you can have the same opportunity!
If eating out isn't feasible:
Make dinner beforehand, or use a Crock-Pot recipe early in the day, and pack dinner to go! Find a fun spot to dine like a park, or at a scenic overlook in your car.
Plan to eat dinner at home either before or after your outing, then use your date time for an activity or to get something small like dessert or a drink. One of our favorite spots is a late-night coffee shop where we get a pot of tea and play a board game.
Rework your budget and see if you can transfer eating-out funds from other family outings into your date night budget. It might be worth it to miss out on restaurants on other occasions so you can prioritize date nights!
If costly activities are out:
Think about what you might enjoy doing together in the great outdoors, or in a pretty area of town. One of our funnest dates was during the 2020 pandemic when most businesses were shut down. We took stale bread to a pond and fed the ducks! What a delightful memory.
If you're near a larger city, there's a good chance someone has written a blog post or newspaper article on some great, free activities in your area. Search "free date night ideas in [your home city]" and see what other people have found!
Drive. This is our go-to date when our budget is low, or when we simply want to talk uninterrupted. And there are lots of fun things you can do in a vehicle besides drive! Wink!
If going on dates regularly hasn't been on your to-do list for a long time, try this method out and see how your marriage will thrive. You'll find yourselves more connected, more interested in one another's dreams, goals and challenges, living on the same page about how you want to do life, and with that romantic spark rekindled. If you have kids, they'll notice the difference, too. When mommy and daddy's relationship is at its healthiest, children experience more stability, safety, openness, and joy.
Do you still date your spouse? When was the last time you took a drive and talked about nothing? Share this blog post with your spouse and start a new adventure today!