Are you skipping date night with your mate? Do you find yourself spending less time with your spouse because of everyday responsibilities, work and children? A recent study shows you may want to rethink the amount of time you rendezvous with the one you love.
According to a study from the National Marriage Project, The Date Night Opportunity Report, couples that spend more one-on-one time together are “less prone to divorce” and “report higher levels of sexual satisfaction, communication and commitment.” What better way to have one-on-one time than date night?
“I am a big believer in date night. I tell all my clients and students in workshops that it is essential for keeping romance alive,”says Linda Bloom, relationship counselor, seminar leader and author. “What happens to a lot of couples is that they drift into becoming roommates, business partners and co-parents. It’s not good to let those important parts of the relationship get emphasized while the romantic part is malnourished.”
Do you want to rekindle couple time with your mate, but can’t think of a date other than dinner and a movie? Hire a sitter or trade child care with another couple and try one of these 50 ways to date your mate:
Stargaze. Find a spot away from city lights and look at the Milky Way, Orion’s Belt or possibly a shooting star. Go to a local wine-tasting or coffee-tasting. Rent bikes and ride around town. If you feel really adventurous, try a tandem bike. Test your knowledge by participating in a local trivia night. Before making a debut, check out sporcle.com or funtrivia.com to play games that challenge your trivia knowledge. Visit a local pool hall. Shoot pool and play darts.
Make your most exquisite meal at home. Use silverware, China, cloth napkins and light candles. Take a cruise on a dinner yacht. Dine at a restaurant that has live entertainment like jazz, blues or theatre.
Make popcorn the old-fashioned way, with an air popper, and enjoy a romantic movie like Casablanca, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Sleepless in Seattle or The Notebook. Play a board game for couples like Scene It? Squabble or Battle of the Sexes. Share pictures and home videos from before and after you became a couple. Prepare to laugh and maybe even shed a few warm tears. If you have a fire pit in the back yard, build a roaring fire, make s’mores and snuggle in front of the fire. Share letters describing what you love and admire about each other. Write why your mate is so important to you.
Take a hot-air balloon ride. Visit an amusement park and ride all the roller coasters. Race go-carts at a track.
Take a helicopter or airplane ride. If you really want a thrill, sky dive out of a plane.
Take SCUBA diving certification classes together. Plan a trip to an exotic place to scuba dive.
Hold hands and wade in a creek.
Canoe or kayak. Go spelunking. Find out where cave camping is allowed. Pack your gear and spend the night in a cave. Go on an outdoor treasure hunt by geocaching. Using a GPS, treasure seekers enter a specific set of coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden container at the location. To find out more, check out geocaching.com.
Grab life jackets and inner tubes, and spend a lazy afternoon floating down a river.
Visit your local planetarium. There is something romantic about viewing constellations in the night sky. Audition for a part in a community theatre production. Attend a gallery hop, an event where several art galleries open their doors for free viewings on the same night. Take a self-guided tour of your town. Check out shops and attractions, and to mix things up, eat appetizers, dinner and dessert in three different restaurants. Pack a picnic and attend a live outdoor concert.
Socially conscious dates
Volunteer at a community garden. Grow your relationship along with some vegetables and donate your harvest to a soup kitchen. Love animals? Volunteer at your local humane society. Serve at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter.
Volunteer as a docent, greeter or server at one of your favorite charity events.
Buy tickets to a charity gala. Dress up in a tuxedo and an evening gown, have a glamorous night and help others.
Book lover dates
Buy a book you both want to read. Take turns reading and write notes to each other in the margins. Read a relationship book. Try to outdo each other following its advice. Visit a bookshop/coffee house combo. Peruse the bookshelves and then sit, sip and read together. Take a class at a local college or community centre. Start your own book. Take turns writing in a journal about your lives together. If you have children, they will cherish the book one day.
Dates that make you feel like a kid again
Go to a carnival, fair or festival. Ride the rides, visit booths and eat food on a stick. Go putt-putting. Go to a roller rink and skate.
Visit a farm and take a hayride.
Go to the zoo.
Physically fit dates
Take a dance lesson. Whether you pick a steamy salsa, intimate tango or flirty cha cha, it will be good for your hearts both physically and romantically. Run a marathon and cross the finish line. Take aerobics, yoga or Pilates. Lift weights. Take a karate class.
Seven secrets of a great date
Relationship therapists Charlie and Linda Bloom, authors of Secrets of Great Marriages: Real Truth from Real Couples about Lasting Love, give the following advice for how to have a great date:
1. Do make date night a priority. “Schedule it. Recognize the need. It is part of your responsibility in a relationship,” says Charlie.
“When you do, you are saying, ‘I value you and our relationship,’” says Linda.
2. Don’t make it a ‘to-do’ list. “Every couple has budgeting, bill paying or issues with children,” says Linda. “Don’t desecrate date night. Have another meeting to deal with issues.”
3. Do set an intention. “Make the date something you are both excited about,” advises Charlie. “Both people should articulate what they are hoping they will experience together.”
4. Don’t bring your own device. “Shut the cell phone down and really be together,” suggests Charlie. “Couples need to experience each other’s physical presence. They need to experience each other’s touch and look into one another’s eyes.”
5. Do make it a part of your daily life. The point of date night is to deepen your bond with the one you love, so caring for the relationship should be a daily goal. “A relationship is a living entity. It requires maintenance,” says Charlie. “Really integrate date night into your life.”
6. Don’t make one person shoulder all the responsibility for the date. One person shouldn’t be planning the date, making the reservations and arranging the child care, advises Linda.
“Usually it falls to the woman to take care of the relationship,” says Linda. "It is a great gift to the relationship if both people take responsibility.”
7. Do remember why you got together in the first place. “Acknowledge one another,” says Linda. “Say, ‘[This] is what I love about you, [what] I appreciate about you or [what] I have learned from you.’”
Linda and Charlie Bloom are also the authors of 101 Things I Wish I knew When I Got Married: Simple Lessons to Make Love Last.
Janeen is a freelance journalist, and mom to Andrew and Gracie. She has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Multitasking Mom’s Survival Guide and GreenPrints: The Weeder’s Digest.
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