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Keeping Love Alive Through Good and Challenging Times

No matter how long they have been together, couples need sparks, creativity, and fun in their relationship. As the years pass, they need it even more. Regular meetings are required in order to talk, have fun, and spend time together. We know that friendships survive on shared interests, yet as soon as we partner up with our very best friend, we tend to settle into domestic boredom and let the shared interests slide. 

Every relationship has peaks and valleys - moments where love is overwhelming and moments when you seriously wonder why you are still with your partner. Couples need to remind themselves about the qualities that they saw in each other at the beginning of the relationship, and what they still love about each other. This is even more critical when mortgages, pets, children, jobs, laundry, broken appliances, normal conflicts, and elderly caretaking occur alongside the couple relationship. These are normal stresses, but they can be overwhelming in a relationship without some nurturing buffers, such as date night and time together.

Date-night rules

Together, choose an evening of the week for date night, but make it consistently the same day of the week or it gets left by the wayside. If you have children, hire a standing sitter to come each week at the same time. Try to get a sitter who drives and pay the sitter well. If finances are a problem, join a babysitting co-op and trade tokens. If separation anxiety is a problem, plan date nights at home when the children are asleep.

Each partner takes a turn planning the date, executing, driving, and paying. The other partner is the guest. Then, the next week, switch roles. It’s more fun to keep plans a secret until you are both in the car when it’s time for the date. Surprise is part of the fun!

The planner should hire the sitter and feed the kids before you go out. Look your best, even for home dates. The only information the guest needs to know is what to wear and if they should eat before going out. Try to plan an evening without friends, so that intimate subjects can be addressed, if need be. Some subjects are difficult to bring up, but with time and space, it’s better to broach the subjects and give it air time than to bury it. Couples who bury critical conversations end up with nothing to talk about in the later years and drift apart. Be tolerant and enjoy the evening as much as possible, knowing that your partner put a lot of effort into making date night special for you, even if they didn’t quite nail it that week.

Date-night-out ideas:

  • Go out for a coffee or a beer at your local pub

  • Dinner crawl - go to several restaurants for an appetizer, salad, main, and dessert

  • Visit the Zoo, a museum, a library, or science centre

  • Live theatres (high schools and smaller troupes have cheap or no-cost nights)

  • Concerts (check out university and community bands)

  • Wine tasting events

  • Couple’s massage

  • Pottery painting

  • Art classes

  • Friend’s house party

  • Go out for breakfast or meet for lunch

  • “Lovers” or “couples” trade show

  • Fitness: gym date, bowling, rock climbing, yoga, pilates, rowing

  • Lectures (check at libraries, the university, and bookstores)

  • Volunteer together, such as working at the food bank and places where you can talk and have fun

  • Window shop

Date-night-in ideas:

  • Snuggle in bed with a movie and a picnic of wine, bread, and cheese

  • Enjoy dinner and a movie at home with a theme such as French night - have crepes and watch Chocolat

  • Board or card game night

  • Dance

  • Bake cookies

  • Play video games

  • Relax in the bathtub with candles, salts, and wine

  • Pick up books from the library and have a read-in around the fireplace

  • Sit around the fire pit outside and make marshmallows or hot dogs

  • Relax in the hot tub

  • Bring out photo albums or watch photos and videos on the big screen at home

Date-night-and-no-sitter-available ideas:

  • Car rides and walks (kids will either fall asleep or be entertained by the DVD player you bring).

  • Go to places like IKEA or McDonald’s or the mall. Grab a coffee and a bench and utilize the play places to keep your kids entertained where you can talk but still keep an eye on the children.

  • Go to Chapters or other bookstores and plunk the kids in the kids section with an assortment of books. Grab the in-house coffee and find a nearby seat. 

Happy dating!

Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE (Certified Family Life Educator), teaches parenting at the University of Calgary, Continuing Education, and has taught for Chinook Learning, Families Matter, and Alberta Health Services for over 13 years. Judy is the author of the international bestseller, Discipline Without Distress: 135 Tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery, and Parenting With Patience: Turn frustration into connection with 3 easy steps.For more information, contact 403-714-6766 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To join the list for monthly notification of her free parenting webinars, proudly sponsored by Calgarys Child Magazine, visit


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