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Date Nights Can Strengthen Relationships

Posted on July 13, 2023 in: Marriage

Date Nights Can Strengthen Relationships

Several years ago, I heard a wise Catholic priest tell a group of married couples, “Marriage is a Sacrament, parenting is not. Focus on the Sacrament first, and the children and the family will all fall into place.”

That thought has stayed with me. Yes, there are times in the lives of all parents when their children have to be their main focus. But too many couples build their world around the needs of their children at the expense of their relationship. They wake up one day and discover the intimacy they once shared and the long conversations they once had have been replaced by plans for who is driving which child where, or what to have for dinner.

Making your marriage relationship a priority is not being selfish. It is critical to keeping the family unit together. As the old saying goes, when the marriage falls apart, so does the family.

One way to make your marriage a priority is to incorporate a weekly or biweekly “date night” into your schedule. “Date night” affords a couple quality time alone together without any distractions in order to reconnect and focus on one another. When a couple deviates from their usual routines to do something fun or out of the ordinary together, they make an unspoken statement to the other: “You matter to me.”

In a study by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia entitled The Date Night Opportunity: What Does Couple Time Tell Us About the Potential Value of Date Nights?, the authors concluded, “Couples who devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates, compared to couples who do not.” The study showed “date night” can foster better communication and commitment between couples, rekindle romantic sparks and reduce stress levels.

Summer is the perfect time to incorporate some “date” activities into your couple routine. It’s a more leisurely time of year and the warmer weather is ideal for enjoying many inexpensive outdoor activities. Some suggestions include: a relaxed bike ride, a walk along the beach, a hike in the woods or a wine tasting tour at a local vineyard or craft beer brewery. Go out for an ice cream or a burger and fries at an outdoor diner. Wake up early to see the sun rise together and then head out for breakfast. Surprise your spouse with a spontaneous picnic dinner at the beach or lake and watch the sunset holding hands. My favorite is a moonlit walk in the woods behind our home or enjoying an adult beverage while stargazing in front of a backyard campfire.

Set up a hammock in your backyard and spend time cuddling together talking about your dreams or hopes for your relationship. Go shopping together at a local farmers’ market, selecting some fresh vegetables and herbs as the centerpiece for a meal you both prepare. Pull out your favorite board games to play while sitting together on your back porch strung with twinkling lights and some soft romantic music in the background. Go for a leisurely drive through the area’s quintessential New England towns and stop to stroll through some of the quaint shops and boutiques. Pack some snacks and enjoy a double feature at a local drive-in theater.

Whether it comes after the sun goes down or in the glow of sunlight, “date night” doesn’t have to be expensive or require that you even go somewhere. What it requires is spending quality time together alone, away from the children, the telephone and technology. Make the time to do something out of the ordinary with your spouse, unwind, talk about something other than work and family and gaze into each other’s eyes. It will be fun, you might find yourself smiling more and, without realizing it, you will be reaping many long-term benefits for your family by strengthening your marriage.

By Mary-Jo McLaughlin

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