Last night, Michael and I had our first date night in a long time. Last year, we vowed to make it a weekly occurence and we did a great job sticking to it. But, summer came along with fundraising traveling and vacation and our regular sitters being gone for summer, and date night went out the window. We got an occasional one but, nothing regular. It was really tough on us and I know we both felt the effects.
I’m writing this post to encourage all of you (married or dating) to make date night a priority. Mark Driscoll said this, “If you don’t date your wife, someone else will volunteer for the job.” Nothing speaks more to your wife’s heart, men, than you putting her first and making time spent with her a priority.
Here is a simple list of things Michael and I have learned and used in the implementation of date night:
1. Make date night a priority. Schedule it.
Sit down with your spouse and determine what is realistic for you all as a couple. Can date night happen every week? Every other week? Once a month? What night of the week works best for you? It doesn’t have to be Friday or Saturday!! Things tend to be more expensive and it can be harder to get a sitter on the weekend. If you have children, how often can you get/afford childcare? What we have found most valuable is putting date night on the calendar. Last year, we chose Monday night as our date night. We found a student who could commit to babysitting each Monday night at the same time. We then vowed not to schedule work, activities with friends, or other things on that night. Of course, things came up but, overall, we protected that night.
2. Date night does not have to be expensive!
Finances are tight! We have a line in our budget devoted to date night which we are very protective of. But, heck, it’s not that big!! Some tips are—trade off childcare services with another couple so neither of you has to pay a sitter. Or enlist the help of a friend who doesn’t have kids (but loves them!) or a grandparent or family member who would love to be with your kids weekly! You don’t have to go out to dinner every week. Sometimes, we plan our date night for after dinner. We eat at home with Michael Paul and then head out to a dollar movie or a cup of coffee. Once a month, have date night at home! Turn off the TV, phone and computer and devote time to your spouse playing a game or watching a movie. If you do go out to dinner, pick somewhere cheap or share an entree. Order water! It’s about spending time together, not getting fancied up and spending a fortune.
3. Be creative.
Especially if you do date night every week, the same old dinner and a movie can get pretty boring! Take advantage of your town and things that are offered there. Try trading off who plans the date so the husband (or the wife) doesn’t always feel the burden to do the planning. If you’re doing the planning-try to plan something you know your spouse specifically would love to do! Be sure to make a plan though. Nothing upsets me more than when date night time comes, we get in the car and Michael says, “So, what do you want to do?” That’s why taking turns planning works so well. You can have a plan but without one spouse feeling all the pressure.
4. Give your spouse your undivided attention during that time.
In this day of technology, it can be easy to be physically present on your date but not mentally. Michael has (admittedly) a harder time with his phone than I do. So, on our date nights, his stays at home, so he’s not even tempted to look at it. I bring mine for the sitter to be able to call, but it goes on vibrate.
If you’ve never had a regular date night, you are truly missing out. I assure you your marriage will be richly blessed. If you have kids, it will mean so much to them knowing that you put each other first (even before they realize it.) Michael Paul will ask Michael where he and I are going. He tells him, “I’m taking your Mommy on a date.” MP always says, “Why?” and Michael responds “Because I love her and she’s important to me.” He’s 2. This probably doesn’t mean much to him but, when he’s 15 and hearing the same thing it will. And when he’s 25 and married himself, I hope he will remember that and implement it in his own marriage. And–if you don’t have kids, take advantage of date night NOW cause it only gets harder!!!
Here is a great blog full of tips from Pastor Mark Driscoll:
Also–Michael and I have been truly blessed by North Point Church (Atlanta) and their “Great Date Experiment” found here: http://www.marriedlifeonline.com/greatdate_np.jsp
This is especially great if you a. Are at a loss for what to do on date night b. Are particuarly in need of dates full of substance and time to talk. This resource maps an entire date out from start to finish and includes tons of great discussion questions.
To end, here is a list of some of my favorite dates Michael and I have done over the last few months. These will be helpful for Tallahasseeans or you can adapt to fit your own town:
1. Go see a play at TCC. They have plays all the time and they are usually either free or just a few dollars.
2. Go to a more expensive restaurant (we love Carabba’s but can rarely afford it), share an entree and order an extra salad and 2 waters. We can get out of there for $25.
3. Movies 8. (no longer the dollar theater!) or go to AMC on a weeknight (only $4.50 a ticket).
4. Take your favorite game for 2 to Starbucks. We spent a couple hours there one evening. So much fun.
5. Take a walk around Lake Ella.
6. Get ice cream and go sit on the swing at Dorothy B. Oven Park.
7. Date night in-Take out from your favorite restaurant. One night-Michael brought home cupcakes from Cake Shoppe and a movie from the Red Box. If it’s cold, light a fire in the fireplace and sit on the living room floor with a blanket. If you’re feeling really romantic, hubbies, do a candlelit dinner at home and dance with your wife.
8. At the holidays, get hot chocolate to go and drive around looking at lights.
9. Take advantage of FSU and go to a sporting event. I usually afford Michael at least one basketball game date/season. 🙂 (even though I hate basketball!)
10. Do a date DAY! When Grandma’s in town, take a whole day together. Do something you can’t do on your date nights like take a picnic to the park or go to the beach.
I hope this helps and….happy date night!