Build a Better Date Night
By Sarah Mahoney
Whether your trysts are regular or once in a blue moon, you can rev up your romantic routine. For more great dates, check out these 7 fun ideas.
Tell the truth: Did your date nights vanish years ago, along with sleeping in, Sunday brunches, and reading the newspaper over coffee? Or have they become as stale as, well, 15 years of the missionary position?
In either case, you're due for a refresher. Couples should give special time together a high priority, because it not only helps you stay connected, the latest research reports, but it also makes both partners happier. "Date night is one of the best ways couples have to pull back from the fray and remember there's an 'us' hidden in the swirl of their daily lives — and really focus on maintaining and celebrating their connection to each other," says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a sociology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle and relationship expert from perfectmatch.com.
To help keep your marriage strong, date night should be fun — of course — but you should also make it novel in some way, or you'll grow bored with your time together and, possibly, with each other, says Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the State University of New York at Stony Brook who researches couples' interactions. That doesn't mean that you have to give up your beloved French film nights or ballroom dancing sessions and start bungee jumping just for the sake of novelty. Rather, you should simply make the effort to think creatively about how to spend your time together. "My wife and I love the ballet," says Aron, "and my sister gave us a backstage tour at the local dance company, so we got a different perspective on something we already enjoy."
To discover how to spice up date nights, we found three couples who faced challenges and asked them to road-test expert fix-it advice. Read on to see what worked — and why.
The Kitchen Cure
Names: Nina and Jayme Deibler
Married: 4 years; she's 37, he's 38
Kids: A daughter, 2
Their challenge: Making date night happen at all
"My husband and I used to have great dates," Nina says. "We both love good food, and we'd often spend five or six hours cooking and experimenting with different wines."
But since their daughter was born, finding couple time has gotten harder. "I travel frequently for my job, and Jayme often works evenings and weekends," she says. "So when we do have a few hours, we usually want to spend them with our daughter."
"Working parents worry that time spent as a couple subtracts from time spent with their kids," explains Schwartz. "But when couples feel guilty leaving a child with a sitter, I tell them, 'This isn't selfish, it's protecting both your marriage and your family.'"