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The importance of date night to married couples

Elise Stephens blogs about relationships, life, and inspiration at www.elisestephens.com. She received the Eugene Van Buren Prize for Fiction from the University of Washington in 2007. Her novel Moonlight and Oranges was a quarter-final...

Fresh alternatives to popcorn and a movie

You've likely heard someone tout the absolute necessity of married couples having a weekly date night. Dates nights are easy to slack off on, and many of us need help with a few alternatives to the DVD and popcorn route. Learn to focus your date night for fun and romance, and be inspired by some fresh ideas.

Married couple on playground

If you have kids, date night means finding a babysitter. If you both work full-time, it means you both have to clear your schedules for that evening. Either way, highly prioritizing time for a fresh and fun date night is essential.

Why we need date night

My husband and I began our marriage with plans for a weekly date night. We were successful until I filled our schedule so tightly, date night was often missed altogether. Then when we did find time, he and I defaulted, through exhaustion, to a rented DVD and microwave popcorn.

Don't get me wrong, dinner in your pajamas and snuggling up with a movie is wonderful. But if this sounds like the majority of your date nights, they will start to feel bland. Think of Date Night with Steve Carell and Tina Fey in which they always go to the same nearby restaurant. It doesn’t lead to much romance.

Perhaps you and your spouse want to be together, but are tired and just not sure what to.

First, what not to do

  • If you're attending your date night like a business meeting, it's not really a date. This evening should be about fun, romance, friendship, growing closer together and no worries.
  • Plan your dates. A date night that is planned ahead of time makes you and your spouse feel honored and loved. Don’t leave strategizing till 5 p.m. on the night of. If your work week is busy, plan your date for the following week on the weekend.

Date ideas

Be kids again

Get tickets to your local zoo or aquarium and watch a prowling leopard or listen to screeching spider monkeys while you hold each other's hands. (You can find discounts in places like the Entertainment book). Buy Nerf guns and have a battle full of laughter or build a tent in your living room and camp out. We’re only as old and stodgy as we let ourselves get.

board gameHave a game night

Play cards or checkers or any two-person games you both enjoy. My husband and I love Mille Bornes, an exciting car racing card game.

Conduct an interview with your spouse

Learn new things about the one you think you know so well. Draft a list of unusual questions (for example: If you added any kind of room onto our home, what would it be?) and perform the interview over cocktails or appetizers. Be sure to take notes and ask follow up questions!

Then, use what you gathered from the interview to make a list of outing and/or gift ideas. For example, when asked about what pet he'd love to own, my husband responded that he wanted a velociraptor as a pet if he could find one that wouldn’t eat him. I might buy a plastic model velociraptor, just for fun, or I might plan to visit Universal Studios in California to go on the Jurassic Park ride.

Remember, it's just the two of you

Date night is the time to rediscover each other and let the rest of the world go on without you. If you don't already have a weekly date night, I highly recommend you start one. If you already practice this tradition, I hope this encourages some fresh ideas.

Dating doesn’t stop when we get married -- it just gets better.

For more date night tips

Date like a star! Celebs reveal their date night advice
Date ideas for any occasion: Romantic, creative & budget-friendly
5 Date ideas for new parents

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