Dr. Gregory Popcak
I often joke that I’m on a mission to stamp out date night. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting one-on-one time with my wife and as a marriage counselor, I would love for you and your spouse to get more regular time alone together too. I just find myself a little discouraged by the number of couples who save their entire marriage for that ever elusive date night. I see these couples every day–in life as well as my practice–as they power through their week like it is one, long, interminable chore. Couples like this may be highly efficient machines when it comes to getting things done, bussing kids to their various activities, and checking “to-do’s” off the list, but they never stop to enjoy the life they are creating together or connect in the middle of the life they have created. They’re always wistfully dreaming of simpler times with fewer kids and fewer responsibilities and more…date nights.
There Is More
The even greater irony is that when these couples finally do get a date night, they often don’t know what to do with it. Not having taken any regular and consistent time to talk, pray, play, or work together when date night finally arrives, they either sit in an uncomfortable silence, talk about the kids, or argue. When we save our whole marriage for date night, there’s just too much pressure to get everything we need out of the 2, 4, 6 hours we’ve managed to squeeze out. The time becomes too loaded with expectations to be everything we want it to be. Again, my point is not to convince you to give up date night, it’s to realize that there can be so much more to your marriage. Here are some suggestions for getting the most out of date night, and rest of your life together besides.
1. Bond Over Everyday Life
Life isn’t a series of chores to power through. All those chores and activities represent the life you’re building together. Do some of those things together. When my wife and I were dating in college, the dorms were separated into men and women, but the laundry room was co-ed! I’m no great fan of laundry, but all of a sudden, doing laundry with my girlfriend was a great opportunity to connect. I think couples need to hold on to this. Use some of those chores; cleaning up after dinner, folding laundry, grocery shopping, as an excuse to be together and talk. The kids won’t voluntarily be within 100 miles of a chore so you’ll get that time to catch up!
2. Do Things You Already Enjoy Separately…Together!
When I suggest that couples do more together, many times couples respond, “but we don’t enjoy the same things.” So what? My RX? Remember the times it didn’t matter WHAT you did with your partner as long as you got to do it together? Cultivate that!.
3. Pray Together
Make a daily appointment to pray together. Marriage isn’t a finish line. It’s just the beginning where we promise to spend the rest of our lives learning what it really means to love someone. God wants to show you the steps. Give him the chance to teach you by meeting together everyday. Isn’t it time to make a regular commitment to creating daily opportunities for connection? It will make all your days and nights–including date nights–that much more precious.
For more information on cultivating a passionately-loving marriage that will stand the test of time, check out For Better…FOREVER! A Catholic Guide to Lifelong Marriage. Don’t wait, give everyday of your marriage the romance and spark of a date night with this helpful resource!